When you own a rental property, regular inspections are a crucial aspect of maintaining its condition and keeping it in the best shape possible.

Even if the property is being occupied by excellent tenants who treat the space with the utmost care and respect, accidents can happen and sometimes things go wrong without warning.

Regular property inspections can help landlords and property managers catch small problems that may arise early and help protect your revenue streams. This will ultimately prevent these small problems from turning into larger, more costly issues down the road. 

Frequently checking in on the state of your property is an incredibly important part of protecting the condition of the home and staying on top of your maintenance responsibilities as a landlord. 

Additionally, regularly scheduled property inspections can help you show your tenants what exactly your standards are in regard to the condition of the property, helping them take the best possible care of the unit. At the very least, you should perform an annual apartment inspection. 

In a positive landlord-tenant relationship, there is strong communication and healthy cooperation involved. This dynamic helps keep the rental property in good shape, as both parties are working together to make sure that it remains well maintained. 

Two people sitting at a wooden table smiling and talking

This cooperation includes regular property inspections. While inspections are beneficial to landlords to help protect themselves and their assets, they are equally beneficial to tenants. 

A high-quality tenant is more likely to stay long-term when they know that the property they are occupying is well-maintained and that the owner of the property is dedicated to keeping it in top condition. This lowers the landlord’s vacancy rate and ultimately is largely beneficial to their business and income. 

In this article, we will provide tips on when rental property inspections should be conducted, how to perform them while respecting your tenants’ privacy, and all the other things that you should keep in mind when you are performing an inspection of your rental property. 

What Is a Rental Property Inspection?

A rental property inspection is the best way to keep track of the condition of your rental property. This means the landlord or the property manager is frequently inspecting and reviewing the condition of the property in great detail, assessing all aspects of the home. 

When doing so, it is important to be very detail-oriented and not miss any early problems that may eventually turn into larger issues.

The tenant should be present at the time of the inspection to make sure that they can are informed of any issues or concerns and to give them the opportunity to repair any damage they may have caused to the property. 

Person holding a key over their other hand being clasped by another person’s hands

A walk-through inspection before the tenant moves in allows the landlord and the tenant to evaluate the state of the property. This also sets the standard for what condition the landlord expects the property to be in once the tenant moves out at the end of their lease.  

A walk-through inspection gives the landlord an opportunity to repair any issues that may have previously gone unnoticed prior to the tenant moving into the rental home.

This is sure to start the landlord and tenant’s relationship off on a good note, ensuring that the tenant is comfortable in the rental unit from the moment that they move in. 

Why Rental Property Inspections Are So Important

When you perform a thorough inspection of your rental property on a regularly scheduled basis, you will be able to adequately keep track of the condition of your property. 

This comes with many benefits, including being able to clearly assess if there are any damages to deduct from the tenant’s security deposit. It also ensures that you can catch potential problems early, making your tenant happy and ultimately saving you money on large repairs. 

Additionally, when it comes to move-in and move-out inspections, having a clear understanding of your rental property’s state before and after a tenant’s lease is a great way to ensure that you are protecting your property. Improving your property after an inspection is also a reason for a potential rent increase.

When You Should Conduct a Property Inspection

We recommend four different kinds of inspections that you should periodically schedule for your rental property.

Two people with their arms around each others’ backs looking at a the exterior of a home

Move-In Inspection

It is a good idea for you and your tenant to conduct this inspection together prior to the tenant moving in. It may also be helpful to have a rental property inspection checklist to work off.

A rental house inspection checklist will make it easier to document any problems with the property that you may have, then ask your new tenant to sign and date the list. 

Move-Out Inspection

This inspection will help you determine the state of the property after your tenant has moved out. It is best to schedule this on the day of the tenant moving out.

If you conduct the move-out inspection too early, tenants could cause damage while moving out. If the inspection is done too late, tenants may claim that the damage was not caused by them. 

Routine Inspection

This kind of inspection is best to be performed once every three to six months to make sure that the property is well maintained. This allows you to keep up with how your tenants are treating the property, and stay on top of your maintenance responsibilities as the landlord. 

Drive-By Inspection

While the above inspections require landlords to provide a 24-hour notice to enter letter to their tenants, this one doesn’t, since you won’t be entering the property.

A drive-by inspection is simply taking note of the condition of the outside of the rental property to determine if it’s necessary to perform a more thorough routine inspection soon. 

Smiling person in the back seat of a car holding a tablet

How to Properly Inspect Your Rental Property: What to Do and What Not to Do

There are many different landlord inspection laws that are put in place to protect the rights of tenants when it comes to the inspection of a property. As a landlord, it is important to familiarize yourself with these rules and regulations so as to not accidentally find yourself in legal trouble. 

Before conducting any kind of inspection of your rental property, make sure to consult with a knowledgeable attorney or property manager in your area to avoid potential problems. 

The following list of tips will help you keep your tenants happy, increasing your chances of keeping long-term tenants and lowering your vacancy rates. Here are some things that you should consider when it comes to rental house inspections:

  • Always give your tenants prior notice before an inspection. Familiarize yourself with the rules in your area that determine how much notice you are required to provide your tenant with before entering the rental property. If you’re a new landlord, consider speaking with a licensed attorney.
  • Encourage your tenant to be at home during the inspection. It is recommended that you have your tenants sign a document confirming the condition of the property. This will let you inform your tenant of any damage that they may need to be aware of or fix before the end of the lease. 
Couple looking at a document in their kitchen with their property manager
  • Explain to your tenants the importance of apartment inspections. It is important to provide your tenants with a concrete reason for your visit to the rental property. This helps them know that the inspection is for both the landlord’s and the tenant’s benefit. 
  • Don’t photograph tenants’ personal items. While it can be useful to document the condition of your rental property using photos, it is recommended that you do not take photographs of any personal items or features in the home that belong to the tenant.
  • Don’t confront or upset your tenants. It can be hard not to get upset when you notice damage or neglect when you inspect a property. However, it is important to always remain professional. Any problems that you and your tenant may have should be addressed in writing.

Regularly walking through the rental property with your tenant allows you to provide advance notice or any deductions that you may be making from their security deposit. Alternatively, it gives your tenants time to repair the damage before the end of the lease.

Make sure to look over a list of repair costs that are allowed to be deducted from a tenant’s security deposit, as well as familiarize yourself with the legal differences between damage and normal wear and tear

Happy couple in a bedroom next to moving boxes 

The Bottom Line

The biggest reason that any landlord or property manager should be conducting regular and thorough rental home inspections is to protect yourself, your property, and your assets to the best of your ability. 

It can help you stay on top of maintenance and also determine whether or not you need to deduct funds from your tenant’s security deposit to pay for any repairs at the end of their lease. 

While owning a rental property comes with a multitude of risks such as property damage, problem tenants, evictions, vacancies, and much more, there are ways to prevent these issues from happening.

One of the best ways to avoid damage to your property is to conduct thorough and effective tenant screening. When you understand how to effectively screen tenants, you will be able to choose high-quality renters and ultimately avoid potential damage to your rental property. 

However, we all know that even when a rental property is occupied by excellent, high-quality tenants, things can happen and damage may occur. That’s why conducting regular and detailed inspections on your property is always a good idea.