Carrying out property inspections is one of the best ways to stay on top of your real estate investment. There are things you may uncover that can prevent significant losses in the future.
That’s where an inspection checklist comes in. It’s a document listing all the items and aspects of the property, allowing landlords to note the status of each. You can keep track of what is damaged and what is in good condition.
This post tells you everything you need to know about annual landlord inspection checklists, from their importance to best practices and how to make one. Plus, you can download our free template to use for your upcoming inspection.
- A landlord inspection checklist is a document that lists all the items and aspects of the property, allowing landlords to note the status of each.
- Best practices for conducting an inspection include scheduling it in advance, doing a walk-through with the tenant, and taking photos or videos.
- Landlord annual inspection checklists can help you uncover damage, identify potential repairs, and improve communication with tenants.
Why regular property inspections are important for landlords
Property inspections before and at the end of the tenancy are a common practice. But regular inspections during the tenancy period are equally important:
Preventing serious problems
The normal wear and tear of items can lead to significant long-term damage, rendering your property uninhabitable. It could be a plumbing leak that grows into a mold problem, burst pipes, or flooding, or clogged drainage that causes sewer water backup. The sooner you catch these minor issues, the sooner you can fix them so they don’t balloon into gigantic messes.
Ensuring tenants are abiding by the lease agreement
Inspecting your rental property also allows you to confirm whether tenants are following their lease agreements. Are they caring for the property, or does it have trash and hoarded items throughout the house and the yard?
Do you have a rule against pets but see pet hair and smell pet odors in the apartment? Are they smoking in a nonsmoking apartment or secretly subletting? Do they have a good relationship with the neighbors, or do they make the community a living nightmare? Or, perhaps, they are involved in some illegal activities. Regular inspections are one way to find out.
Improving communication between you and the tenant
Keeping an open line of communication with your tenant is always advisable whether you live nearby or are a long-distance landlord. It opens the door for the tenant to speak freely about issues they face and how you can fix them to make the space livable. That’s where regular inspections come in.
Ensuring you are meeting your end of the deal
A tenancy agreement is a 2-way relationship. Your tenants need to care for the property, while you must ensure the place is habitable. The best way to ensure you meet your end of the deal is by performing regular inspections. Most importantly, it helps you reduce the chances of being liable for damages due to negligence if sued by the tenant or other parties.
Maintaining the property’s value
A run-down property can lose value in the blink of an eye. If you wish to sell, you want your property to be valuable to attract future buyers. Plus, a well-maintained property helps you retain tenants. Regular inspections allow you to fix problems quickly.
Best practices for using an annual inspection checklist
A reliable rental inspection checklist is only as good as its content. Here are best practices for ensuring yours is reliable:
1. Set your objectives
Apart from checking the condition of your property, what other objects are you looking to achieve? What are your expectations? How and when will you conduct the inspection? Will you do it, or are you hiring an independent party to handle it for you? Finally, how will you communicate the findings to the tenant?
2. Have a detailed checklist
Even if you have been in the rental property business for a while, it is easy to overlook the most important details. An inspection checklist ensures nothing is forgotten or overlooked. However, a checklist that allows you to take notes rather than just ticking items off works better. It also reduces the burden of writing your reports from memory.
3. Consider investing in asset tracking software
A digital system with asset tags or QR codes for items can make the inspection process more manageable, especially if you have multiple rental properties. It also gives any relevant parties, like your property managers, instant access to property details. For example, they can retrieve and review information, like scheduled inspection dates, needed repairs and maintenance, and whether required repairs were made.
A free annual landlord inspection checklist template
There are numerous downloadable inspection checklists on the market. Alternatively, you can use your own DIY checklist for inspections. The most important factor is ensuring that it allows you to capture data, like the property’s condition, while leaving little to the imagination.
Whichever format you use, here’s what to include:
- Name of the person conducting the inspection
- Tenant information
- Date of inspection
- Property address and unit number (for multifamily properties)
- A breakdown of every room and items that you need to inspect, like furniture and appliances
- Condition of rooms or items with options to choose from, like “Good” or “Attention Needed”
- Space for videos or pictures as proof of the property’s condition
- Course of action
To make your job as a rental property owner easier, we’ve put together a fully editable and downloadable landlord inspection checklist.
How to document damage found during a landlord inspection
You must be able to document the exact condition of the property or other items. For instance, you can have extra space or a notebook to take notes about what you see. This allows you to note whether something is broken or loose or needs repairs or replacement.
Second, with photos or videos, digital documentation provides evidence of what you see. This makes it easier if you need clarification later on or if the tenant disputes your inspection report. Additionally, you can send these to your maintenance team and make it easier for them to know what they are dealing with when prepping for repairs and replacements.
Annual property reviews can be time-consuming, but you can reduce the burden with your free copy of our landlord yearly inspection checklist. It enables you to check every nook and cranny of your property.
Annual inspections allow you to keep your property in good condition. Just as importantly, it can improve your communication with your tenant.