We’ve all heard the landlord horror stories of tenants who left a property in a state of disrepair. Regular inspections are a great way to avoid this worst-case scenario, but they also have a list of benefits making them a key part of every tenancy. With that being said, it’s not always easy to know how to go about inspections and why exactly they are so important.
While it’s down to you if you would like to carry out inspections or not, it’s important that you are fully aware of the ins and outs of the process. Here is everything you need to know about property inspections as a landlord in Ireland.
What Is A Property Inspection?
A property inspection is a routine visit to your rental property to make a record of its condition. Its purpose is to make sure that the tenant is caring for the property sufficiently, to check if any maintenance is required and to check for any breaches of the tenancy agreement. An inspection is not to be confused with a property inventory, which is carried out at the beginning and end of a tenancy.
Property inspections are really important as they help to catch any problems before they escalate into bigger issues. This can not only prevent costly repairs but can also help to maintain the value of your investment.
Who Carries Out Property Inspections?
As a landlord in Ireland, you have the right to carry out routine inspections and are encouraged to do so on a regular basis. However, if you are using a letting agent or property management company, this may be included in their service.
Whether you would like to do the inspections yourself is a personal choice. For some landlords, an inspection is a chance to get to know their tenants a little better and build a rapport. However, if you end up with a damage related deposit dispute, then a third party, impartial inspection report can be highly beneficial. A professional clerk will also be able to provide a thorough and extensive report where you may not feel confident doing so.
You must also bear in mind that, whoever does the inspection, the date and time must be agreed with the tenant beforehand (at least 24 hours before). Most tenants will be happy to allow you access if you are arranging inspections on a reasonable basis. However, it’s never a bad idea to reassure them that there’s nothing to worry about and it’s simply a routine walk through.
How Often Should You Inspect The Property?
The Residential Tenancies Board recommends that you carry out a property inspection every 3 months. However, it is more common for inspections to happen every 6 months. This is frequent enough to catch any problems early on but not so frequent that it feels like an inconvenience for the tenant.
What Does A Property Inspection Include?
While a property inspection is not as thorough as an inventory report, there are still several different areas you will need to cover. It’s important to document these visits in writing so you have something to refer back to if any problems arise later on.
Tenants will often only report larger maintenance issues that need to be addressed immediately. An inspection is an opportunity for you to spot any minor problems and arrange for repairs. Doing so in the early stages is almost always more cost-effective. It’s also a chance for you to pick up on issues that, through no fault of their own, the tenant hasn’t even noticed. A fresh pair of eyes is always beneficial to spotting these seemingly insignificant problems.
As far as maintenance goes, you should be sure to investigate the following:
- Signs of mould or damp
- Leaks (checking all the taps and outside drainage)
- The general condition of fittings (and furniture if this was provided)
- The condition of the garden, if applicable
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
- Damage that goes beyond normal wear and tear
- Signs of rodents or other infestations
Breaches To The Tenancy Agreement
An inspection is a good opportunity to ensure that your tenants are abiding by your agreement. Here are a few things to look for:
- Check for any signs of smoking, whether that be a smell in the property or an ashtray left on a table (if you have specified the tenant isn’t to smoke inside)
- Make sure that the tenant isn’t keeping a pet (if you have specified that they are not allowed to). Even if they are allowed pets, it’s a chance to see whether they are keeping any additional animals as well as the ones you know about.
- Look for signs that there are more people living in the property than the number specified in the agreement.
- In rare instances, there may even be signs of illegal activity that you need to address.
The Tenant’s Living Conditions
Even if the property is in good condition, performing an inspection once the tenants are living there is a way for you to see how well they are looking after it. If they are simply untidy, then it’s not your place to say anything. However, there may be certain aspects of the way they live that could cause bigger problems.
For instance, they may have clothes drying indoors without a window open, creating the potential for mould to grow. Or they may leave their bags of rubbish by the back door which could attract vermin.
Naturally, if you notice anything like this then you should approach the subject gently. No one likes to be criticised for the way they live, so simply explain the issue and if you can, offer a solution to help. With the examples above, you could offer to supply a dehumidifier or outdoor clothesline for drying, or an additional wheelie bin for their extra rubbish.
What If The Tenant Refuses Access?
All good tenancy agreements will have a clause for periodic inspections. If this is written into your agreement but the tenant refuses access, then they are in breach of their responsibilities. The first step is to write to the tenant outlining the breach and requesting a mutually agreeable time to carry out the inspection.
If they still refuse entry then you can issue a 28 day notice of termination. For more information about what this should include, head over to our blog post Everything You Need To Know About Ending A Tenancy.
As you can see, property inspections are an easy way to make sure everything is running smoothly and to tackle any problems early on. Carrying them out on a regular basis is just one small commitment, but it could end up saving you lots of money and hassle in the long run.
We hope we have armed you with enough information to make an informed decision about your own property inspections – and if it’s something you’d like to outsource, we would be happy to help.
As part of our management package, we carry out property inspections every 6 months and act as your tenant’s main point of contact. With our dedicated team in place, we are well-positioned to take care of any issues promptly and efficiently, leaving you to sit back and enjoy the return on your investment. Head over to our property management pricing page to find out more, or get in touch over on our contact form.