The most important, and realistically only, tool a property manager has to ensure the physical well being of a property under their care, are the good old routine inspections. Simply put, routine inspections are on-site assessments that are carried out at regular intervals, to ensure that properties under a managing agent’s care, are looked after as they should by the tenants. They are also done to ensure maintenance needs are identified, and also that the health and safety of tenants and their guests is not compromised.
According to the Residential Tenancies Act, routine inspections can occur as often as 4 times a year (a maximum of once every 3 months) – which may be a major inconvenience for some tenants (especially those that take pride at the appearance of their homes). Every agency, has a different policy but at NextGen we make sure to inspect properties after 3 months of a new tenant moving in and then, as long as we feel that all the boxes are ticked, every 6 months.
In terms of notice periods, our tenants are given a minimum of 7 days’ written notice, which allows them time to prepare for it. For tenants that have given us consent, we will issue them by email.
A typical inspection will usually take 15 to 30 minutes to complete, and the tenant can be present while the inspection is performed but it is not necessary. Naturally, if the tenant isn’t present, we will use the office key to enter the property.
What is it that we look for during the routine inspections?
Routine inspections have 3 objectives :-
- To identify any maintenance issues, so that they can be attended to before they get too big or become a hazard,
- To ensure that the property is safe for the occupants and their guests (i.e. no wiring issues, broken or slippery tiles, broken windows, smoke alarms working etc), and
- To ensure that…
- the property is cared for,
- it is being maintained in a clean and tidy condition,
- it has no damages and no unauthorised alterations, and
- the terms and conditions specified in the tenancy agreement, are respected.
It is worth pointing out that inspections are not an housework review exercise. We know and appreciate that normal people live there, and take that into consideration when we visit. We are also careful to distinguish between normal wear and tear and damage.
What do tenants need to do to prepare for routine inspections?
In preparation for the inspection, we will ask our tenants to make a mental note – before our arrival – of any issues they are aware of, and to ensure the property is orderly. At NextGen Property Mgmt we will also issue them with an information sheet which contains a checklist of the things we will be looking at – asking them to go over those before we arrive. This ensures that the inspections are smooth and quick as tenants know exactly what we will be looking for and are prepared.
How are routine inspections done?
Our inspections are done using a mobile app or iPad which allows us to take notes and plenty of photos, and compile a formal report quickly. Our app is integrated with our property management software which means that as soon as the final report is completed and shared, owners are able to log on and see them. Reports will generally include details of the date and time they took place, our comments, photos we took, recommendations and follow up actions.
At the inspection, our agents make sure to methodically go through each room and external areas whilst taking plenty of photos and making note of concerns.
We check the floors and carpets to ensure they haven’t been damaged in any way, we check the walls to make sure there are no marks or damage to the paint. We check that the doors and windows are in good working condition and there is no damage on them whether superficial or structural, and we thoroughly inspect the ceilings, fixtures and fittings.
We also make sure to test and note the condition of all appliances and how well the kitchen cupboards and bathrooms are kept. A very important task that our property managers also perform, is to test that smoke alarms are working.
A similar process is followed on the outside of properties, where the condition and general upkeep of the garage, the gardens and garden beds, fences and gates is also noted.
While it’s not necessary for properties to be immaculate, we want to get a sense that the property is well maintained and that surface areas are kept clean and tidy. A clean and well looked after home, ensures we walk away with a positive impression which we relay onto to the owner, so everyone is happy.
What happens after a routine inspection has been completed?
Upon returning to our offices, our agents will compile a formal report which contains our observations, the tenant’s feedback, and the photos we have taken.
In the process, we make sure to quickly provide feedback to our tenants. Those that genuinely take good care of their properties, receive a formal certificate of appreciation from us! In most cases, nothing more will be required of our tenants after that, however, if something does need to be addressed – such as a damage rectified – we will be in contact with the tenants ASAP to agree on a rectification plan (to be honest if the tenants are present at the inspection, we will make sure to discuss these whilst we are there, and this could be a very uncomfortable discussion).
Whilst compiling our formal report, we also make sure to include our observations on normal wear and tear, and our recommendations on short term and longer term maintenance works. Our aim is always to address wear and tear issues quickly as it is a smaller hit in the pocket for the owners, the premises don’t deteriorate which makes them more attractive to rent, and importantly the tenants are also happy as they can see that the owner is invested in keeping the property in a good condition for them and their guests.
The final piece of information we include in the report before it is shared with the owner, is commentary on the state of the market including rental prices in the area for similar properties.
The final task is to schedule the next inspection, which, as long as everything looks great, will be in 6 months.
So there you have it… routine inspections. Done properly, they are a good thing for everyone involved. They safeguard the interests of the owners, they also ensure the well being for tenants and their guests and most definitely ensure property managers fulfill their obligations to both tenants and landlords.
Who we are:
NextGen Property Mgmt (www.nextgenpm.com.au) is a boutique Real Estate licensed agency that specialises in property management. NextGen Property Mgmt does NOT has a sales team unlike most other agencies that specialise in Sales and have Property Management as a side business.
Our area of focus is residential property and we operate exclusively in St George, Inner and South West Sydney.
NextGen was created from its infancy to cater for investors as it was founded by investors who quickly realised that in a highly regulated industry like Real Estate – competence, expertise, care and service by property managers varies greatly.
As an investor, you need to have trust for and feel valued by your property manager. You need to know that your property is being looked after with minimal disruption. At NextGen we understand that because we are investors living busy lives ourselves, so our promise to you is that you will no longer have to worry about your most valued asset because we will make sure to take care of it as if it is our own.