Is there any value in a property inspection?

First of all what is a property inspection?   A property inspection is where the property landlord or their representative conducts a visit (or visits) during the life of a tenancy. The number of visits will relate to the length of the tenancy and concerns the landlord has. Once during the tenancy of one year is the absolute minimum. It should be noted that a property inspection can also be known as a property visit or interim visit. Sadly the visiting of a property during a tenancy is often treated casually and not given the importance that it deserves.

A property inspection should not be just a cursory visit with little or no notes taken; it should be carried out in a professional manner using a predetermined format, in the required time frame and be of value. A predetermined format will ensure continuity each time a visit is undertaken and can also act as a prompt so that nothing is forgotten.

The frequency and timing of a property visit should be undertaken in accordance with the tenancy agreement (which would include the tenant allowing a property inspection and the number). It should not interfere with the tenant’s right to peaceful enjoyment of the property and a consequence of a landlord visiting on a regular basis, even if “just in passing”, could be regarded as harassment.  The industry requirement that twenty four hours notice is given to the tenant should be honoured.

So what is the purpose of a property inspection? Fundamentally to satisfy the following criteria;

Is the property being looked after?

Are there any problems with the property?

Are any of the terms of the tenancy being breached?

Does the property meet current legislation?

There may be other reasons for an inspection and this could be triggered by a neighbour or a tenant. An example would be a property inspection being the result of a complaint made to the landlord (or agent) by neighbours. Alternatively, a tenant may ask for a property inspection if there are concerns about some aspect of the property. High levels of damp or water entering the property are two examples. It should be noted that a property inspection is not a check against the inventory/check in, a survey of the property or an investigation into the living habits of the occupants! Although if there are illegal activities being undertaken …….

So what is being looked at during a property inspection?

There can be many checks that can be made but the main ones include;

How many bedrooms are being occupied?

Are there signs of over occupancy such as a stack of mattresses in one bedroom?

Can each room be used as it is supposed to be?

Are there pets or is there evidence of pets the landlord is not aware of?

Is there evidence of smoking?

Is the property being abused? For example the storing of bicycles in a hallway?

Is there evidence of water leaks eg. stains on ceilings?

Damp caused by condensation, wet laundry drying on radiators?

Are smoke detectors being serviced? No low battery warning noise or battery compartment open.

Have any fire safety devices been tampered with such as detaching self-closers on doors?

Is rubbish being dealt with in a timely basis, no big piles?

Is the garden being maintained according to the season?

Is the property excessively hot?  Has the loft been accessed? (Both indicate potential drug growing) .

This is not an exhaustive list but indicates what should be checked.

But what about illegal activates?  What is an illegal activity?  This can be answered in two parts, those activities which are illegal by law, growing drugs and those that are a breach of the tenancy agreement running a business, subletting.

A property inspection should not just be one sided, the landlord checking his side of the tenancy agreement is being observed. The tenant should also be invited to indicate whether there are any problems or outstanding matters that have been reported and have not as yet been dealt with.

A property inspection will also check for work required to maintain the standard of the property which also takes into account wear and tear such as;

Signs of external damp indicating problems with walls

Plant growth in gutters, which could lead to water overflowing and is often potentially observed as damp on ceilings.

Fraying of carpets (indeed loose carpets on stairs) which could be/or could become a safety hazard.

Evidence of damage to cables, switches, power points or overloading through the use of extension leads

Whether the window frames, fascia boards or external doors require repainting.

Damage to driveways.  The list could go on….

A property inspection could be used to bring to the landlord’s attention any works that may need to be carried out. An example would be, (using one indicated above), the guttering has plant growth which may result in water overflowing and entering the property. Another example is an extractor fan that may not be working (or not even being used) which could result in condensation/damp.

An inspection could also advise the tenant matters that might lead to a charge being made against their deposit. Poor methods used to dry clothing (especially during the winter) which could be easily corrected and thereby preventing condensation. A tenant could be advised that a little work is needed to bring the property up to a more acceptable standard.

A visit should be a two way process which if undertaken in the correct manner can prevent damage to the property and problems at the end of the tenancy.

A well conducted property inspection should have the advantages of;

Making the tenant feel that interest is being taken in their occupation and any problems they may have has been noted.

Advising the landlord with an update of the condition of their property and an indication of any works that may be required either immediately or in the future.

The landlord feeling secure about the state of the property and those who occupy it.

Author: Stuart Edge of Liberator Services.
Liberator Services is a qualified professional inventory specialist, providing comprehensive and detailed reports. They can provide advice on disputes, adjudication and wear and tear. They are independent their signature is accepted as being neutral. There is no emotional tie – the reports are purely based on facts. Protect your investment ensure the documentation relating to property will stand up to be examined.