Risk is a key consideration for any successful property investor, particularly in protecting cash flow and asset value. In this article the LITTLE REAL ESTATE team provide some guidance on the important role routine inspections play.
Minimising risk is a key consideration for any successful property investor, particularly when it comes to protecting your cash flow and overall financial position.
As such, ensuring we conduct routine inspections on behalf of all landlords is a vital component of the services provided by your property management team.
Most professional property managers will conduct a routine inspection at least once every six months; depending on permitted frequency according to the state or territory regulations governing your investment.
- Every 3 months in the ACT
- 4 times a year in WA
- Every 4 weeks in SA
- 4 times a year in NSW
- Every 6 months in Victoria
- Every 3 months in Tasmania
- Twice a year in the ACT
- Every 3 months in Queensland
While this might seem excessively frequent, the importance of professional routine inspections cannot be underestimated, as they often prove invaluable when it comes to uncovering little issues that could become bigger problems if left to fester.
So what should your property manager look for? And how often should they look? Here is your simple five-step guide to a productive routine inspection.
It’s a little unrealistic to think that an Adelaide property manager will physically inspect every single rental on their register every 4 weeks.
Once every six months is generally the ‘go to’ industry standard. This is someone’s home after all and it’s best to allow for his or her ‘quiet enjoyment’ without constant intrusion.
That being said, conducting quarterly inspections (where permitted) earlier on in the tenancy can be beneficial. This is particularly true for brand new properties that are let for the first time, as new constructions can often lend themselves to some ‘teething problems’ in the first three to six months of habitation.
Obviously, you have to give plenty of warning to your tenants before rocking up on their doorstep. If you fail to provide sufficient written notice, you’ll not only find yourself with a very disgruntled tenant but the possibility of ending up in legal trouble.
Again, regulations regarding the amount of notification required can vary slightly across states or territory, but seven days is fairly standard.
It’s polite to confirm with tenants whether they’ll be present or not prior to the inspection, and you can do so in any number of ways, including:
- Sending a maintenance request form along with the written inspection notice that asks them to indicate whether or not they’ll be home by ticking a box
- Making a call or sending a text at least 24 hours prior, reminding them to complete the maintenance form
Always knock loudly and wait a few moments before letting yourself in with the spare key. There are some situations you really don’t want to walk into!
A well-executed inspection should last around 15 minutes. It’s a good idea to start by asking the tenants whether they’d like to tell you about anything before you just jump on in. This gives them a chance to get things out in the open and can point you to any glaring maintenance issues.
Every room should be eyeballed, even if it’s just for a moment. Generally property managers are looking out for:
- Presentation and upkeep – is it neat and tidy inside and out? Are lawns and gardens being maintained?
- Safety – are all smoke alarms and appliances in proper working order? Any there dangerous looking trees or branches that need to be addressed?
- Cleanliness – a filthy oven can mean potentially expensive repairs or replacements down the track. More concerning, exhaust fans grimed with dust and muck can present a fire hazard in some instances.
- Damage to floors, walls, doors, etc – not so you can vilify the tenants, as accidents can happen, but so you might be able to address the issue. Those stains on the carpet are always harder to remove the longer they linger.
Your property manager should advise you of the inspection outcome with a professionally prepared report outlining:
- the overall state of repair
- any urgent and non-urgent maintenance items uncovered
- any matters of concern discussed with the tenants, such as ongoing tardy rental payments
These days there are numerous apps that allow property managers to input data as they conduct routine inspections, which will then generate a comprehensive report on return to the office. Voila! Reporting made ridiculously easy!
As you can see, there’s really no excuse for your property manager to neglect routine inspections, but every reason why they should make the effort to do them regularly.
Little Real Estate is Australia’s largest independently owned real estate company. If you are looking for a manager to look after your investment property speak to Angela Paradise on 0429 495 269. To get your Management Fees FREE for 6 months click here.
General Advice Warning: The advice has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. You should therefore consider the appropriateness of the advice, in light of these objectives, financial situation or needs, before following the advice. We recommend that you speak to your accountant and financial adviser to help you determine whether direct property investment is right for you.