As a landlord, it is in your best interests to perform periodic inspections throughout the year, to ensure that your let is being looked after.
Your priority as a landlord might be to undertake reference checks, have the tenancy agreement signed and the new tenants settled into their new home, but it is also important to keep up maintenance on the property.
When to perform periodic inspections
It is stated under the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 that landlords have the right to enter the premises so that they can view its ‘condition and state of repair’. However, you must provide the tenant with at least 24 hours’ written notice. Also, you can only perform an inspection at ‘reasonable times of the day’.
Regular checks throughout the year are vital to ensure any maintenance issues are caught as soon as possible, to avoid unnecessary costs and complaints from the tenants. You will want to avoid undertaking checks too often, though, as you could equally risk upsetting them with unwanted visits.
It is at least worth performing periodic inspections seasonally, as the change in weather conditions can cause or unveil issues.
What to look out for
Periodic inspections are handy for three reasons:
- Highlighting any repairs that are needed
- Checking up on general wear and tear
- Ensuring that the tenants are also looking after the property
We’ve suggested the following tips to help with your inspection:
How clean is your house?
How a tenant uses the space that they are paying for is up to them, so it would not be fair to point out clutter around the place. However, any food waste left out could attract unwanted pests, which can be an expensive problem to sort out.
Similarly, if they aren’t cleaning the property properly, this could result in stubborn stains forming, which can become difficult to remove.
Look for leaks
Have a look at the ceilings for any brown or damp-looking patches. If you see signs of water damage, there may be a leak. You should also have a look at taps and any accessible pipes for leakages. Outside of the property, take a look at drains for signs of blockages.
Not only can such issues be costly to fix, but they can also have negative effects on the health of those living in the property, as it could lead to mould patches growing in the damp areas.
Any appliances included as part of the tenancy should be inspected, to make sure that they are still in good working order.
Landlords are legally required to have all gas equipment maintained by a Gas Safe registered engineer. A gas safety check must be done annually. It is also important to remember that the latest record must be given to the tenant within 28 days of the check.
You also need to be certain that all electrical systems, such as sockets and light fittings are safe.
A smoke alarm is legally required on each floor and a carbon monoxide alarm in any room with a solid fuel burning appliance, so you should make sure that these are all still working.
Most local fire and rescue services offer a Safe and Well visit. This is a free check to identify potential fire risks and provide occupants with an escape plan in case a fire does break out. They will also test your smoke alarms.
Although this should be considered out of the norm for most tenants, it’s worth being aware of anything suspicious, in case of illegal activity. Bear in mind that just because your tenant is quiet enough and pays their rent on time, this does not mean that everything should be assumed to be fine.
If they are doing something illegal in the property, for example, there’s the ever-growing issue of cannabis farming, they will want to avoid unwanted attention by causing you problems.
In the attic
Be sure to also check the attic or loft, if the property has one, for signs of leaks or pests.
You will want to check the condition of any windows and the beams on the inside of the house.
You may include a clause in your tenancy agreements stating that tenants must also look after the garden. If you do, then you will want to make sure that they are doing as expected.
Check that the lawn and flowerbeds are neat and not overgrown. Keep an eye out for any pile-ups of rubbish, as this could also lead to pest problems and unwanted wildlife.
Having a professional come to clean out the gutters is also a good idea, as they are easily neglected and leaves can build up over the autumn months.
Record the results
It’s best to write up a result of all findings. If there is anything wrong with the property, be sure to take photographs to add to the report. Consider doing this on a room by room basis, in order to make sure that nowhere is missed.
If you are using a letting agent, their report will be a good confirmation that they definitely did inspect the property on your behalf and did a thorough job.
Other landlord tips to consider
Relationships need maintenance too!
Get off to a good start by swapping contact details and making sure your tenants know the best method of contact for yourself or any letting agent involved.
Maintaining this relationship throughout the tenancy will make it easier when you need to get in touch to arrange periodic inspections. Most tenants will be understanding and willing to let you look around, but it’s always best to be polite and respectful with your request and during the visit.
It is also worth reminding them during check-in that you will be in touch at certain points in the year to arrange future periodic inspections.
A good relationship with your tenants will make for a happy career as a landlord!
What to do if you are refused entry
There are two reasons why a tenant may refuse to allow you into the property. One is simply if they don’t know you very well they may feel reluctant to let a stranger into their home (all the more reason to get the relationship off to a positive start). Others may refuse entry because they are trying to hide something they don’t want you to see…
If you feel you have done all you can to arrange a reasonable date and time to visit, and they still won’t give you permission, the next step would be to apply for a court order. To enter otherwise could be considered trespassing or harassment.
A Section 21 or Section 8 notice may be used if you need to evict them from the property. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the Government is currently considering scrapping Section 21 from The Housing Act 1988.