Why Are Property Inspections Crucial and Can They Invalidate Your Insurance?
Did you know that 87% of Landlords who manage their own tenancies DO NOT carry out regular property visits. It’s a myth that these visits are to spy on tenants. It’s to check that one of the biggest assets you own is well maintained and earning you the income it deserves. Properties that are left to fall into disrepair will achieve a lower monthly rent and attract a lower quality of tenant. Show you care and 9 times out of 10 the tenants will treat the property with respect and as their own.
Why do property visits?
They are crucial to determine how your tenants live and treat the property, as well as checking for any routine maintenance that the tenants haven't mentioned because they either haven't noticed it or didn't wish to bother you. If there is something you aren't happy with it can be addressed upon the inspection in a calm and non threatening action.
On all insurance policies for a buy to let property there will be a clause stating how often the property needs to be inspected/visited by the landlord or the managing agent on behalf of the landlord. Don't forget these visits need to be documented.
Breaching these timescales could make your insurance invalid!
What to look for
Check for any overgrown hedges/untidy garden
Check for any moss in the guttering which could cause a blockage
Look at the roof for any slipped roof tiles
Any excessive wet patches to the outside brickwork which could indicate an issue/leaking guttering
Path/driveway isn't overly broken up which could cause damage to a car
Look inside garage and shed for any leaks/water ingress
Make sure the number of people on the tenancy agreement are the number of people residing in the property, tip: a good way to check this if no one is home is to count the toothbrushes in the bathroom
Windows and doors open/close and lock properly
Tidiness is suitable and won't cause any damage to the decor
Any mould around window frames, below bay windows or in the bathrooms
Furniture isn't pushed against the walls - if it is ask the tenants to pull it away to allow the air to circulate
Check the silicon around the bath, basin, work surfaces and kitchen sink aren't showing any signs of cracks
All taps are easy to use and not dripping once shut off
Grouting between tiles isn’t breaking up
Paint isn’t peeling and the decor is in good condition
Carpet isn’t fraying or wearing
Check ceilings for any signs of a wet patch which could indicate a leak
The general property condition isn't showing excessive ware and tear for the number of tenants living in the property
The property isn’t showing any signs of condensation through lack of heating or ventilation
How often should I do property visits?
The best time to do the first visit for a new tenancy is after the initial 3 months, this gives the tenants time to unpack and settle into the property and gives a good indication of how they will live. If the first visit is good and your satisfied every 6 months should be suitable after this, unless the insurance states a different timescale, but if there are any concerns step them up to every 3 months until those concerns are resolved and drop back to 6 monthly.
These visits do not need to be intrusive and are good for tenants to raise issues directly with their landlord as well as ask any questions face to face that they may have. Regular visits allows a good mutual tenant landlord relationship, the tenants see the landlord wants to look after the property and in turn that rubs off onto the tenants meaning a better maintained and looked after property.
Take the onus off your tenants
Upon chatting to a friend the other day we were discussing how reliant we have all become upon Zoom or FaceTime since the lockdown and I happened to mention that I was using Zoom to now carry out some property inspections. She mention her property isn't looked after by an agent but directly by the landlord who hasn't checked the property for at least 4 year! I asked her how this made her feel, she said honoured that she feels the landlord doesn't need to keep an eye on them but also a massive amount of pressure to report maintenance. She said she doesn't know if she should report all little minor bits like loose handles, paint chipping or a minor crack etc which don't bother her at all. She doesn't wish her Landlord to think she’s moaning about petty little things and demanding them to be sorted. These are the sort of little bits that can be noted on a property visit every 6 months and monitored without the onus being on the tenants.
I ran through with her how I do an inspection and she said she would be very happy to allow her landlord in every 6 months and relieve that pressure off of her in regards to reporting maintenance. On the property visit she can show the landlord the minor bits which they can monitor together which aren't necessarily needing to be done right now.
Take the onus away from the tenants and book a property visit in accordance with the timescale set by your insurer. The visit will take 10 minutes and give you and your tenant(s) peace of mind.
How would you like to get your hand on our property visit tick list to help you? Download it here