Inspecting Your Rental Property: When & How?

You already know that protecting your investment in your rental property takes time and money. You’ve got to do preventive maintenance and keep up with repairs.

But beyond the things you know about – or emergencies that come up – it’s best to do regular inspections at specific times.

The key times are when tenants move in and when they move out. That way, you and your tenant agree on conditions and any damages. You’ll also need to do regular seasonal inspections.

Tenants coming and going.

It’s essential to do a move-in walk-through when you turn the keys over to your new tenant. This walk-through includes photo documentation and signed checklists, so there’s no disagreement about whether something has been damaged during the tenant’s lease. It also tells the tenant that you take the condition of your property seriously and will be aware of any issues other than routine wear. The move-out walk-through, also jointly with the tenant, lets you determine together whether the tenant is liable for any damage. This can save you money and legal hassles going forward.

These walk-throughs take time (about an hour, not including travel) and must take place at the tenant’s convenience – but skipping them isn’t a good option.

Seasonal checks.

Pre-winter and post-winter inspections can also save you money. Assessing windows, doors, weather-stripping, etc., can help you make repairs promptly before conditions require more extensive repairs – or expensive building components must be replaced.

Drive-by inspections.

Occasional “drive-by” inspections can give you a sense of whether a tenant is caring for your property, observing no-smoking rules, and more.

If you’re doing these inspections yourself, get them on your calendar for each of your rental properties well in advance so they don’t fall through the cracks. Keep a record of every inspection, findings and related repairs. And if you’re using a property management company, ask about the timing and details of inspections they’re doing on your behalf, and how they’re documenting the results.