Periodic checks on a property during a managed tenancy are often called “property inspections” but Property Managers are divided about the use of this word. There are those who chose not to use it as it can sound quite intimidating to tenants! Many chose to use “Property Visit” or “Property Check” instead, but there are of course compelling arguments for the use of “Inspection” especially for those tenants who may not be keeping the property in the best of conditions! Whatever the terminology, this is a task which is crucial to the successful management of a tenancy.
Another area which regularly causes concern is a landlord’s expectations of what can be achieved during an inspection. From the outset, it should be explained that these visits are not detailed surveys but an overall, purely visual, internal and external check on the condition of a property. An agent’s terms of business should fully explain the parameters of inspections.
How often should you check on your client’s property? The industry norm is every 3 or 6 months, depending on what exactly you have agreed with your landlord in your terms of business. If your landlord wishes to increase the frequency of these visits then the tenant’s legal right to Quiet Enjoyment needs to be considered. Too many inspections could be deemed as harassment and don’t forget to give the tenant at least 24 hours’ written notice!
What to look for
The purpose of periodic inspections is to check on the overall condition at a particular point in time. This includes looking for evidence of any additional unauthorised occupiers, any damage which may not have been reported by the tenant and other issues which may need to be addressed such as condensation due to poor ventilation.
How to report
A written report on a standard template is always best but, depending on what is found, you may also wish to telephone the landlord immediately after the inspection - especially if there are any urgent causes for concern which need prompt attention.
Turning a negative into a positive
If the news is not good and you find evidence that tenants have been breaching their tenancy or mistreating the property in some way, do not despair! This is when a really good Managing Agent comes into their own. Your client relies on your professional advice and expertise in these situations and the steps you recommend could help you retain their loyalty for several tenancies to come. So see this scenario as an opportunity to shine instead of a management headache – this is the key to retaining more business!
Author: Caroline Kenny AssocRICS DipRLM FARLA(retd) a freelance residential lettings consultant as well as a Business Development Consultant to the UK Association of Letting Agents (UKALA) email@example.com.