There’s a lot of value to rental property inspections. If you’re renting out a property in Tulare, these inspections are the best tool you have to protect the condition of your investment home and ensure your tenants are following the terms of your lease. Inspections also allow you to check for deferred and unreported damage, which can get expensive if not taken care of right away.
Two inspections are especially critical. These are the move-in inspection and the move-out inspection. These are important because they assist you in documenting the condition of your property. They’ll help you demonstrate how the rental home looked before a tenant moved in, and what it looked like after that tenant lived there. This can help with security deposit questions and even protect you against disputes if a tenant tries to claim that there wasn’t any damage left behind.
These inspections are also valuable to you because you have the luxury of doing them without a tenant in place. During the move-in inspection, you’ll give every square inch of that property a thorough look. You’ll take a lot of pictures. You’ll give your residents an opportunity to add anything or raise any concerns, but you’ll walk through the property on your own.
The move-out inspection is also done without the tenants present, although you will be required to offer a pre-move-out inspection in which they can walk through the property with you to get an idea of where their security deposit deductions may be found. During your move-out inspection once the tenants have vacated, you’ll take photos and make notes, determining what kind of repairs you’ll need to make and whether those are wear and tear-related or the result of tenant damage.
It’s also important to conduct an annual inspection while the property is occupied. This can be difficult because California law is strict about when and how you should enter a tenant’s occupied home. You want to respect the privacy of your tenants and their right to quiet enjoyment of the home.
As Tulare property managers who do hundreds of inspections every year, we’re sharing some tips on when to inspect, what to inspect, and how to manage the process of documenting what your home looks like and addressing any issues with your residents.
What to Look for During an Inspection
The main purpose of your walk-through or your inspection is to make sure there isn’t anything that needs maintenance. You are responsible for providing a safe and habitable rental home, so you’ll want to make sure that the property is in good condition, and your tenants are taking care of it the way you expect them to.
Here are a few things you never want to miss when you’re inside your Tulare rental property.
- Safety and Habitability Issues
Every rental inspection should start with the safety features of your home. You want to ensure that your tenants are secure and have everything they need to live comfortably in your property. Check electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems. Make sure doors and windows lock. Inspect smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
Like safety, habitability is non-negotiable. When you inspect your rental property, make sure there’s running water and electricity.
- Plumbing and Leaks
Plumbing issues are expensive, and you want to catch them before they become catastrophic. Look at every faucet. Flush every toilet and check the showers, the tubs, and the appliances. Look for evidence of moisture under the floors.
- Inspect the HVAC
Another expensive property feature is your heating and cooling system. These HVAC repairs and replacements are costly, so make preventative inspections whenever you have the chance. You’ll extend the lifespan of your air conditioning unit, furnace, and ventilation system with periodic inspections and servicing.
- Property Cleanliness
Is your tenant keeping the property clean? Everyone has different standards of cleanliness, and you don’t need to be complaining about a little dust. However, you want to be sure there isn’t any trash gathering in the kitchen to attract pests. You want to make sure there aren’t a dozen cars parked on the front lawn.
- Pet Behavior
If your tenants have moved in with pets, always check the floors and walls for evidence of pet damage. Discuss the lease requirements, the pet policy, and the things your tenant will need to do to stay in compliance. If your lease agreement does not allow for pets but you see evidence of them, you’ll want to address that with your tenants.
- Lease Violations
Walking through the property while tenants are living there is a good way to ensure the lease is being followed. You want to make sure there aren’t any unauthorized pets or long-term guests at the property when you’re inspecting. Hold your tenants accountable to the lease terms they agreed to. This doesn’t have to be confrontational, and you don’t want to show up looking for opportunities to argue with your residents, but take the time to make sure everything is going the way you expect it to.
Opportunities for Upgrades and Improvements and Avoiding Deferred Maintenance
During your inspection, take a moment to evaluate what you could do to increase your rental value. Repairs are one thing, but upgrades and improvements can go a long way towards increasing rents and tenant satisfaction. Where can you make some updates?
Another thing to look for while inspecting – deferred and unreported maintenance. You want your tenants to report maintenance needs immediately. Preventative maintenance will be less expensive than emergency repairs. If something isn’t working right, make a note and schedule the repair with a trusted vendor.
When to Inspect a Tulare Rental Property
Knowing when to inspect a rental property can be confusing, especially if you’re not sure when you’re allowed to enter an occupied rental property in Tulare. Inform your tenant’s that you’ll be conducting a maintenance walk through. The formal “inspection” word might indicate that you have professional inspectors coming to the home. And, if you position it around ensuring there aren’t any maintenance issues at the property, you can get inside with your tenant’s permission.
We recommend at least three inspections throughout a tenancy:
- Before move-in
- After move-out
- Once during the tenancy
Don’t forget that pre-move out inspection, which must be offered to your tenants within two weeks of their move-out date.
You’ll also want to get inside your Tulare rental property if there’s a specific reason that you want to see how things look. Maybe you suspect property damage, illegal activities, or if the tenant reports a leak or infestation. In such cases, you should give your tenant reasonable notice before conducting the inspection. Always provide at least 48 hours of written notice, unless it’s an emergency, in which case you’re permitted to get inside the property right away.
Include the annual maintenance walk through in your lease agreement. This way, tenants will know to expect it. You can discuss this during the lease signing as well, to make sure they’re comfortable with it and not surprised when you provide the notice a few months into the residency that you’ll be coming into the home.
Inspections and Documentation: How to Use Your Inspection Report
As a Tulare property management company, we are vigilant about our documentation. We make sure that everything is captured when it comes to activities at your property, including inspections. You can expect a full inspection report, including photos.
If you’re managing your own rental property, you’ll want the same attention to detail when it comes to documenting your condition reports and inspections.
- Start with a checklist: Before you start your inspection, it is important to have a clear checklist of the areas and items that need to be inspected. This will help you to ensure that you do not miss anything important. Your checklist should cover everything from the condition of walls, ceilings and floors to electrical and plumbing fixtures. You can also include any other areas that are specific to your rental property.
- Gather photographs: Taking clear and comprehensive photos of every room and area of the property is a must. You should also take photos of any damages or issues you come across during the inspection. This photographic evidence will come in handy if there are any disputes between you and your tenants regarding repairs or damage deposits.
- Make detailed notes: Alongside photos, it is important to make detailed written notes during your inspection. You should include notes on any damages or issues that you find. Be as specific as possible, noting the location and extent of any damages or issues. You should also note any items that might need to be repaired or replaced in the future.
- Keep a record: It is important to keep a record of all your rental property inspections. This can be in the form of hard copies or digital copies. It is also important to keep these records organized and easily accessible, in case they need to be referred to in the future.
These are some of our most important tips when it comes to conducting inspections and walk through checks at your Tulare rental property. If you’d like additional information, please contact us at River Drive Properties. We’re happy to provide it.
River Drive Properties provides effective and professional property management services in Merced and the surrounding areas including Fresno, Modesto, Tulare, and Turlock. We have extensive experience with both single-family homes and multifamily properties.