Being a landlord can be an extremely rewarding job however, it can also be a challenging one as well. There are many tasks that need to be undertaken, as well as legal responsibilities that need to be upheld to ensure you provide a duty of care to the tenant.
Once a tenant has moved into your property, the best way to make them aware of their responsibilities and make sure that they are following the rules set out in the tenancy agreement, is to set up regular property inspections.
At Boxall Brown & Jones, we are proud to be members of The Property Ombudsman, The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), The Association of Residential Lettings Agents (ARLA) and with the Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme. This means that every inspection we do for our landlords are completed to the highest of standards and safety, so that the property is fit for tenants at the beginning and throughout their tenancy.
If you are looking to conduct your own inspections, today we will be providing a thorough guide of all the things you must look out for in an inspection, to ensure you are compliant with current legislation and maintaining the standards of your property.
Before we begin, the Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 clearly states that landlords have a duty of care when it comes to meeting their existing responsibilities with regards to the stand and safety of their property, and that their residence is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout.
There are particular things landlords must be mindful of in relation to the Act above, plus other factors that should be carefully inspected to save money and time later down the line.
There are three areas that should be covered in a property inspection. The key one being a statutory inspection which includes gas safety, fire safety and electrical safety. This must be completed to fulfil the legal obligation of the landlord and meet the duty of care for the tenant.
The other two areas include property condition and tenancy breaches. We will be going into more depth about these checks, as some landlords miss some key areas that could cost them time or money to amend.
Most tenants respect where they are living and will take good care of your property, but you may encounter the odd tenant who is less considerate for any number of reasons. They may possibly hide what is happening, so look carefully during the inspection and take action to deal with anything you find, making sure you keep a written record of all communications made.
Things you need to look out for include:
- Illegal activity – It is always good to pre-arrange periodic inspections at the start of a tenancy to reduce the potential risks of any illegal activity (although thorough background checks before the tenancy starts will help too!). An obvious sign of illegal activity include drug use.
- Tenants who sub-let – Be alert to any warning signs that the property might be sub-let by asking yourself are there too many beds for the number of tenants? Are the tenants claiming the people staying are guests? Are there any signs that additional areas such as sheds or outhouses are being used?
- Smoking – If you are a non-smoker the smell of cigarettes is easy to detect, as it lingers and any attempts to disguise it or cover it with other strong smells is difficult. Obvious signs of a smoker in the property are stains on walls, decorations, or even furnishings. You may even see burns in some areas.
- Pets – If there are pets in the property, some very telling signs include baskets, food bowls, leads or even smells. You may even see hair, scratched doors and furnishings, carpet damage and dug up grass as well.
Recording the property’s condition
A property visit is typically a general inspection of all areas. As the property is still occupied, it cannot be as thorough as a check-in or check-out inspection. Things you need to look out for include:
- Damp and mould – Keep an eye out for condensation, mould or mildew and penetrating damp. Signs of damp and mould include flaking paint, mould spores, dark patches and an unpleasan musty smell.
- Leaks – You should check all taps and plumbing and gutters for any signs of leaks, drips or blockages. An area that is often missed is the roof. You should carry out a visual inspection to see if there are broken or missing tiles and roof damage.
- Pest infestations – For starters you must tell your tenants about any possible infestations as soon as they notice it, that way it does not become a health risk or damage your property. We recommend hiring a pest control expert if you see bed bugs, fleas, cockroaches, moths or even bees and wasps.
- Blocked drains – While it is the responsibility of the landlord to address drain blockages, tenants are typically held responsible for blockages they have caused. A very telling sign that there is a blockage is that the drains will begin to smell and damp issues arise in the property.
- Cleanliness – Most tenants will keep the property clean. While a landlord cannot dictate how a tenant should live in a property, you are able to suggest how it could be improved if you believe the standard of cleanliness is unreasonable or the lack of cleanliness causes damage to the property.
Periodic inspections are vital to help maintain the property and the relationship with your tenant.
Good communication throughout the tenancy can even highlight issues before an inspection is scheduled and make them easier to resolve. By addressing the issues quickly and communicating with your tenant, you may find that your tenant is likely to consider renewing the tenancy at the end of the fixed term.
At Boxall Brown & Jones, we offer a full property management service meaning all the stress is taken out of your hands.
Get in touch with a property professionals today to see how we can look after your properties. Call us on 01332 384438.