As a landlord, it is very important to conduct periodic inspections throughout each tenancy to assess the condition of the interior and exterior of your property and also to ensure that your tenants are complying with their lease agreement. We would suggest that periodic inspections are carried out a minimum of twice during each contract. More frequent inspections may be required if the initial ones were not 100% positive.

Please also note that while it is important to make regular inspections, it is equally as important to not make too many inspections. In most cases, there is no need for more than two, unless there are genuine repair and maintenance issues to attend to.

The basics
Under the Residential Tenancy’s Act 2004, landlords and their agents have the right to access their property but they must agree the access in advance with the tenant. You should create a report with photographs and notes at the end of the inspection that you can send to tenants and keep on file. It is vital that you or your letting agent conducts periodic inspections for each tenancy for various reasons.

Repairs and routine maintenance issues
The main reason to inspect your property is to have a look for any maintenance issues that may have been missed by the tenant. Relying on the tenant to report everything is not enough as they will often only report the larger issues. The inspection is a perfect opportunity to find and repair minor issues before they spiral out of control. A small leak for example can transform into an expensive nightmare if it is neglected. It is always wise to have a fresh pair of eyes (and a nose) look over the property from time to time.

Good relationship
Ideally you will want to have a good relationship with your tenants. Clear communication and a good rapport are key and not only does a good relationship make everything easier for you, such as arranging inspections and repairs, but it makes your tenant more likely to renew the tenancy agreement at the end of the fixed term. This ultimately leads to long term and reliable tenants.

Pre Marketing Inspection
If you’re tenants have given notice and you would like to start showing the property to perspective tenants before they vacate, it’s common practice for landlords or their agents to conduct an inspection before organising viewings. This allows you to make sure the property is presentable and smart for when you bring in prospective renters.

What to look for?
Depending on how particular you are, there are different levels of inspection but in general, there are certain areas that you must always check:

1) Damp and mould: Many tenants simply don’t realise how dangerous and serious mould infestations can be, but you must be aware of them. Always look around windows and sinks, and pay special attention to rooms prone to moisture, such as the bathroom and kitchen. Don’t forget ensure that all extractor fans are clean and in working order (bathroom and kitchen) – this will help to prevent mould infestations in the future.
2) Leaks: Leaks can be one of the main causes of mould and rot, which can have devastating effects on the health of your tenants and condition of the property. It is also worth checking the drains outside for blockages and to ensure that water is not overflowing, as this can lead to much bigger problems.
3) Fixtures and fittings: Check over the condition of all of the fixtures and fittings that you have provided in the property. Make sure they are in good condition and in working order.
4) The garden: Most tenancy agreements will have a clause related to the maintenance of the garden. Assuming yours does, you should check that it is not overgrown etc. The garden should also be free from rubbish as it can attract pests.
5) Fair wear and tear: There is often a fine line between normal wear and tear and actual damage. You must remember that you can only make your tenants liable for damage, not fair wear and tear. As you look around the property, you must consider which issues were caused by reasonable use of the property on a daily basis and which were not.
6) Letting agents: If you use a letting agent to manage your property, it is common for them to conduct periodic inspections on your behalf.  At Earnest for example we offer this service and also arrange quotes and manage any maintenance contractors etc. If you would like an inspection done at any stage, don’t hesitate to ask your agent to arrange one.

If the tenant refuses entry.
Unless the tenant knows you or your agent well, they may not feel comfortable with having people in their home, especially when they’re not there. As a result, some will be reluctant to allow entry. However, be aware that some may refuse or postpone access to hide something.

If permission is refused and no alternative dates or times are given, you should bring this to the attention of the RTB.

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