The essential property inspection guide
You’ve signed a tenancy agreement, and the tenant has moved in. Now it’s time to sit back and wait for the rent to roll in, and pull the tenant into line when they pay rent late – right? If only it were that easy!
Buy-to-let landlords have a legal obligation to make sure their property is in good condition at all times. Of course, good buy-to-let landlords look after their properties (and their tenants) as a matter of course. But even the best can make a mistake, or misunderstand what the law says about maintenance and repairs. No matter what your tenancy agreement says, if it doesn’t comply with the law then you could find yourself in hot water – and ignorance is no excuse in the eyes of the law.
Here at Ezytrac, we recommend that our landlord clients work to a calendar of property inspections and planned maintenance. By carrying out routine inspections, we spot small maintenance issues before they become expensive repairs. Planned maintenance includes seasonal issues such as central heating (autumn/winter) and air conditioning (spring/summer) servicing, and clearing gutters of leaves (end of autumn).
The following tips will ensure that your property maintenance and repairs stay compliant with current law.
How to conduct property inspections
Always let your tenants know that you plan to visit the property. Even though it is your property, it is their home. You can’t enter without their permission.
- Check against the property inventory for signs of damage, misuse, or loss of property.
- Check electrical cables, taps, tiles, showers, etc.
- Make sure that toilets flush and water drains from sinks and bathtubs properly.
- Test heating and hot water systems.
- Inspect guttering.
- Have a look at all carpets for signs of loose edges, especially on stairs and in landings and hallways. Check handrails.
- As you are carrying out the inspection, look for mould and dampness.
At the end of the inspection, speak to the tenant about your findings, and ask them to sign the inspection record.
If any maintenance issues are found, you will need to arrange with the tenant for them to be carried out. You could liaise between maintenance technicians, tradespeople and the tenant, or allow the tradesperson to contact the tenant direct. Whichever you choose, you are obliged to ensure all necessary work has been carried out satisfactorily and in a timely manner.
Remind your tenant that they must report any maintenance issues in the future: our repair reporting application makes it easy for tenants to do this.
Treating and preventing damp conditions
Dampness in a home is a particular health hazard, and so it’s prudent to take steps to prevent damp:
- Even if there is a window in the bathroom, an extractor fan will help to remove steam and reduce condensation (especially in the winter).
- Paint bathrooms and kitchens with anti-mould paint.
If you do spot mould or damp during a property inspection, remove with an anti-mould treatment and take steps to improve ventilation.
Ensuring your tenants are safe in their home
All the appliances that you have supplied must comply with safety rules and regulations, and you must also obtain a gas safety certificate. Here is what you should check for regularly:
- All electrical installations and appliances (supplied by you): check for frayed cables and cracks in casings. When checking plugs and sockets, look for signs of charring.
- Gas appliances and fittings must be checked by a qualified Gas Safe engineer, and you must have a gas safety certificate.
- Check that smoke alarms are all in working order.
- If there are any maintenance issues, always have the work carried out by registered and qualified electricians and gas engineers.
- Keep records of inspections and services, and provide copies to your tenants with all safety certificates.
- If any electrical appliances are considered unsafe, they must be removed immediately.
- You are not obliged to have electrical appliances PAT tested, but doing so annually provides that extra peace of mind for you, and proves to the tenant that you are a good landlord.
In addition to the above, you should consider a fire risk assessment – and if you rent out a House in Multiple Occupation, this is a legal requirement. Make sure that your tenant has contact numbers in case of emergency.
What records should you keep?
When a property inspection is conducted, you should get the tenant to sign the inspection form and keep a record of:
- The property’s condition (with photos and video where possible).
- What has been checked?
- Maintenance and repairs needed.
- What action will be taken?
- The date for next inspection.
You should also provide a copy of these records to the tenant.
How to carry out maintenance and repairs
Often, DIY landlords are tempted to cut corners and attempt repair work themselves. It rarely saves time, often ends up costing more than it saves, and can put the tenant in danger. If something does go wrong and the tenant is injured, for example, you have no fall-back position. You are completely liable and could face hefty fines and other consequences, including jail.
Other landlords are tempted to allow the tenant to make repairs, but it is worth noting that you will still be liable should something go wrong. We never recommend allowing the tenant to do their maintenance on properties under our management.
These tips will help you carry out maintenance work professionally, effectively and efficiently:
- Build a network of experienced and qualified tradespeople.
- Plan regular maintenance work with them.
- Always obtain firm quotes for work to be carried out.
- Pay proper rates and always pay promptly – you’ll gain loyalty and will always have a good job done.
As you can appreciate, carrying out property inspections properly, keeping records, and organising and monitoring maintenance work is not an easy task. You need to be on the ball, understand the laws, rules and regulations, and then go that extra mile to keep your property and your tenants safe. As your investment property manager, this is just part of what we do.
Contact one of the Ezytrac team today on +44 01522 503 717, and discover everything we do for our landlords and their tenants.
Yours in effortless property management,