Landlords and tenants alike will be familiar with routine rental inspections. From the landlord's perspective, these inspections are part of the commitment made by a property manager in promising to look after their investment. It provides a scheduled opportunity to review and document the state of the property, ensure it is being looked after by the tenant, and to address any issues which may be presented.
From the tenant's perspective, these inspections are often a good excuse to tidy up a little more than usual (let's be honest!), and show the level of care you have for the property you're renting.
Most property managers commit to completing three or four property inspections per year. In many cases, the date of the first inspection is agreed at the time of the tenant signing the lease.
In the course of a year however, it can slip the mind of the landlord that these inspections should be taking place. However, this is not the landlord's responsibility, it is the responsibility of the property manager.
Research shows most real estate agents are terrible at property management
By way of background, it is important to consider that real estate agencies are notoriously poor at providing property management services to landlords. The consistent high turnover of property management staff, lack of motivation and lack of experience of property managers in Australia is not just anecdotal, it is backed by research.
Just some of the findings from Rockend and Elite Agent's 2018 Voice of Australian Property Management Report, a nationwide survey of 1,034 property management professionals, revealed:
As the report concludes, "When employees are disillusioned and unhappy it impacts training costs, onboarding and loss of business knowledge resulting in a poorer service to owners and tenants as teams constantly struggle to be on top of their workloads".
Of course, this has an impact on the likelihood that routine inspections will be completed thoroughly and on time.
Not all property managers complete routine inspections as scheduled
Unfortunately, we hear many times from landlords that their previous property manager simply didn't complete inspections as promised. Worse still, landlords often don't become aware of this issue until they choose to sell their investment property - at which time they find their property has been damaged or otherwise neglected in ways which would have been obvious had these inspections been conducted.
In addition to the financial distress this lack of action places on landlords, property inspections which fail to happen as planned are also frustrating to tenants. We heard recently of a tenant who had agreed to the date of their first routine inspection on the date they signed the lease. In their case, the date came and went without a word from the property manager. They actually presumed it must have happened. Some weeks (yes, weeks) later, they were contacted by the property manager without an apology and to arrange a substitute date for the inspection. On this second attempt, the property manager had failed to bring keys to access the property, and a third date was arranged. Each rescheduled date brought further frustration, understandably.
How should a routine rental inspection work?
A good property manager will arrange the date and time of the next routine rental inspection well in advance and communicate this clearly to both the landlord and tenant.
During the inspection, the property is thoroughly reviewed and photos are taken throughout as documentation of the state of the property. Any issues such as maintenance requirements or areas of improvement needed from the tenant are discussed (should the tenant be present) or communicated soon after to both the landlord and tenant.
In every instance, the landlord should receive a detailed inspection report including the property manager's notes and all photos. This should be received without prompting at least once every six months.
As a landlord, if you haven't seen an inspection report from your property manager within the last six months (at least), it is time to start asking some questions. It is not your job to remind your property manager of their job.
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Carnelian Property Management Newcastle NSW
We are a family-owned and run Newcastle real estate agent offering expert property management across Newcastle and Lake Macquarie.