When you are carrying out your routine inspections, what is your focus? Are you inspecting the property wearing blinkers and only looking at the way the tenant is maintaining the property or are you proactive, detailed and thorough?
During a routine inspection you need to understand that you are the eyes for the owner. They are paying you a management fee for you to professionally manage their property and to provide feedback to protect their investment, maximise income and optimise capital growth. On many occasions, owners often do not visit or see their property for years at a time and are relying solely on your feedback.
If a owner was to visit one of their properties tomorrow for the first time in five years, what would their reaction be? Have you kept them updated on the condition (explaining that they must expect wear and tear and that items such as carpets, window covering, painting, etc. will need to be replaced every 4-7 years) and required renovations needed at the property?
There are four main reasons for carrying out a routine inspection:
- To ascertain if the property is being maintained by the tenant in a clean and tidy condition
- To advise the owner of any repairs and maintenance that may be necessary
- To suggest future renovations or improvements that may be required
- And most importantly, to ensure that the property is secure and safe for the tenant to live in
You have a duty of care to the owner to carry out regular routine inspections and to issue a written report.
Do’s & Do nots when carrying out inspections
- Be upfront and honest about the condition of the property.
- Take your time and be thorough when inspecting the property.
- Provide a detailed written report to the owner.
- Go the extra mile and include photos with the written report, it is becoming an industry expectation now.
- Follow up maintenance or improvement suggestions with the owner.
- Have a disclaimer on your written report stating that you are not a qualified builder, electrician, pest control or pool inspector.
- Recommend that the owner engages the services of the above professionals annually.
- Highlight that the inspection is a visual inspection only.
- Have a system in place to ensure that no properties are missed (It is Murphy’s Law… the one you didn’t inspect, will be the one that causes you problems).
- Explorer different technologies and Apps to make the process more streamlined.
- Presume that if the property is run down it has always been that way.
- Be afraid to let the owner know that maintenance is required from fair wear and tear. Properties are going to require upgrading. It is not your fault that the carpets are getting old and worn or the walls are becoming marked.
What to look for when carrying out a routine inspection…
Start the inspection from the outside of the property. When walking up to the property, look at the external condition of the paint, walls, roof, gutters, fences, gates, driveways, gardens, etc… You are not a professional tradesperson; however, you are being paid to be an observer of common/obvious faults and repairs. When carrying out routine inspections, the following listed areas can easily be overlooked and are more likely to lead to a liability (injury) claim should there be a fault.
Check to see ‘visually’…
- That all balcony railings are secure
- That the gutters and downpipes are secure and clean
- That steps and balcony floor boards are secure and free from dry rot or mould
- That there are no leaks under the kitchen sink, bathroom cabinet or from the hot water system
- That there is no mould build up or water damage on walls or ceilings
- That fences and retaining walls are not wobbly or falling over
- That all property locks are reasonably secure – especially pool fence/gate locks
- That light fittings and power points are secure and not hanging out of their socket
- That there are no tears or ripples in the carpet
- That window panes are secure
- That there are no dangerous obstructions on the property,
- to name a few.
When carrying out your inspections, take the approach of, “If this was my investment property, what would I want to know?”
By Debbie Palmer
ppm | group www.ppmgroup.com.au
Author, International Speaker, Trainer, Consultant, Coach, System Designer, REIQ Gold Coast Property Manager of the Year 1996 & 1997, State Finalist in 1998 & Gold Coast Finalist in 1999.
Debbie celebrates more than 27 years’ experience in her property management career. She is the founder of the PPM Group, a national company that encourages and supports business development opportunities within property management departments through the development of procedural systems, coaching, live training broadcasts and learning resources.
Debbie is dedicated, passionate, focused and offers a youthful approach to property management. She guest speaks with thousands of property management team members and principals each year around the nation and overseas on how to improve profitability and productivity through the implementation of systems and strategic human resource management planning. She is well respected in the industry and has dedicated her working career to improving the mindset of property managers as well as the day-to-day internal operational procedures.
She is a mum of three children and enjoys a healthy family work-life balance.