The experts at Belvoir offer their advice.....
Vaughan Schofield, owner of Belvoir Wrexham, advised: “Regular inspections to examine a property and its condition when tenanted are extremely valuable for both the landlord and tenant. They are one of the core tasks of a managing agent (or a self-managing landlord) and are probably the most high profile responsibility we have in order to protect the property and the landlord's investment...”
Inspect and protect
Vaughan commented: “It is advisable that inspection visits should take place at least quarterly. If there are concerns about the way a property is being kept, or if the property itself is subject to anti-social behaviour from neighbouring houses, then more frequent visits can be arranged by agreement.
If you don't inspect on a regular basis damage can remain unreported, maintenance issues can escalate and standards can slip as the tenant will be receiving the wrong signals from the agent or owner. Importantly, too, you will be unable to provide evidence with any degree of authority to the deposit service because your visits will not have been carried out in a timely way.
Inspections can be a critical component in any claim that is submitted on the deposit at the end of the tenancy. They provide an opportunity to document key evidence on a timeline so the question of accidental or willful damage to a property can be assessed.”
Vaughan says: “During the inspection there are many things to look out for and be mindful of. The inventory is extremely important here and should be taken along to each visit.
This internal and external property report, which was done at the very beginning of the tenancy, will allow you to identify any visual changes that have occurred since the tenant moved in. Any problems, damage or maintenance issues should be marked on this document so that all changes in appearance can be logged.
The degree of these changes, along with the length of the tenancy, will help determine whether they are something the tenant can be held responsible for and whether it's reasonable to make a claim.
An inspection is also an opportunity to make sure the tenant is living within the terms of their Tenancy Agreement,” he continues. “This could include things such as evidence of pets at the property, sub-letting, smoking or even not mowing the lawn if that was part of the initial agreement.
It's also important to remember that the purpose of the inspection is to protect the property and people in it rather than an opportunity to formally criticise the tenant's tidiness or how they choose to live.
The only things we can comment upon, encourage and motivate people to do something about is if there is clearly a mode of living in the property which is causing detrimental damage now, will potentially cause damage over the term of the tenancy or if there is a health and safety issue, such as an over-accumulation of clutter which would prevent a prompt escape in a fire.”
“Once the inspection is complete there is still work to do,” says Vaughan. “We write a summary report for the landlord logging our findings, plus we supply a copy to the tenant to make sure there is a universal understanding and everybody is on the same page.
If the property is being well-managed and looked after by the tenant then everyone is happy and everyone should know this. Likewise, if there are issues these should be highlighted so that all stakeholders concerned are aware of what these are.
Any follow-up action will then need to be confirmed in writing in order to create an audit trail which can be easily and accessibly revisited in the future if necessary.”
Inspection essentials – at-a-glance...
√ Visit the property regularly, at least quarterly
√ Arrange a convenient time with the tenant in advance
√ Take along the inventory so visual changes can be logged
√ Look out for evidence of anything that may contravene the Tenancy Agreement, such as pets, additional tenants, smoking etc
√ Provide a summary report after the inspection. Make sure all parties have copies.
√ Ensure follow-up actions are confirmed in writing, plus carried out accurately and adequately