It's been about six months since your tenant moved in. The rent comes in on time every single month, and you think to yourself, "life is good."
In reality, you have no idea what your tenant is doing. You have no idea how the house is being treated, or even how many people are living in the home. At this point you essentially have two choices:
1. You can turn a blind eye and hope that everything is fine
2. You can give yourself some peace of mind and do a simple safety inspection.
Here at Mesa Properties, we recommend most rentals get a thorough tenant occupied inspection, or safety inspection as we call them, every six to eight months. Yes, we do check for illegal activity and unauthorized occupants, but we also check for the more common hazards such as leaking sinks and faulty smoke alarms.
Unfortunately, most tenants do not care for the rental as much as an owner would. Therefore, it is necessary to implement safety checks to ensure that your property is being properly maintained.
Before a safety inspection can begin, it must be scheduled. This is often the most difficult part of the inspection. Most tenants work normal business hours, which makes it difficult for them to be home for an inspection. It is not uncommon for us to have to reschedule multiple times just for one inspection.
If a tenant refuses to schedule, a 24 Hour Notice To Enter must be posted. This gives the landlord a legal right to enter the property to do a necessary safety inspection.
If you prefer to not physically post the note on the door. It can be mailed six days in advance. Just be careful, messing up this timeline can land you in court for illegally entering a domicile.
During The Inspection
There are many common sense practices that are good to follow while doing a safety inspection.
First, it is a good idea to be sympathetic to the tenant. Be understanding and reassure them that you are not there to violate their privacy. Let the occupant know that you are only there to check actual safety hazards and to make sure that the house is being maintained. Apologize for taking their time, but let them know that it is a necessary precaution.
Many landlords do not understand that when they sign a lease, they actually give up certain rights to the home. Because the tenant is paying rent, the tenant is in legal possession of the property. Therefore, it is important to respect the tenant's privacy.
Just because a landlord has legal access to the home, does not make it acceptable for the landlord to take pictures of private personal possessions. For example, it is generally not a good idea for the landlord to take pictures of the bedrooms (excluding smoke alarms).
What to Check During an Inspection
The goal of a safety inspection is to make sure that the home is safe for all occupants. Because every home is different, it is a good idea to use a well trained, experienced inspector.
A good inspector will check the entire house for water leaks. This includes everything from the roof to underneath the kitchen sink. If just one pipe is missed, a slow leak could go on for months or years. If left for long enough, a leak can result in thousands of dollars in damages due to excessive mold remediation costs.
In addition to leaks, it is a good idea to make sure that every single smoke alarm is working in the house. According to www.MySmokeAlarm.org, three out of every five residential fire deaths in California occur in homes that have faulty smoke alarms. As a property owner, you have a legal and moral obligation to ensure that your home is safe to live in.
Speaking of home fires, a good safety inspection should include checking for faulty wiring. Not everyone knows what to look for when it comes to faulty wiring, therefore it is very important to make sure that a qualified inspector is doing the work.
After The Inspection
When the safety inspection is finally over, don't forget to thank the tenant for allowing you access to their home. Before you leave the property, be sure to take note of any necessary repairs, and be sure to follow up on getting things fixed.
In the long run, it is beneficial for the landlord to make the repairs up front. Although it may be expensive in the short term, it is cheaper in the long run to replace that faulty wall heater then to find a new tenant. After all, a good tenant is more likely to stay in a well maintained home than one that is run down and in need of repair.
What Does Mesa Properties Do?
Mesa Properties recommends that all rentals have a regular safety inspection. This ensures that when the kitchen sink starts leaking, it will be caught before the repair bill gets astronomically expensive.
When Mesa Properties does a safety inspection, a trained inspector is responsible for taking care of your property. This process involves a detailed report that includes exterior photos of the entire home. It also includes interior photos of necessary safety items.
Interior photos include all smoke alarms, sinks, and under the sinks. It also includes photos of any damage that is seen in the home, such as kick holes in the walls. These reports also include a detailed written description of the home and any damage seen by the inspector.
If you have any questions about whether or not working with Mesa Properties is right for you, please feel free to give us a call. We'd love to talk to you about our services, and how we can simplify your life by removing your property management headache.