Being a landlord in the UK is an excellent, tried-and-tested way to earn passive income. But it requires a fair level of management and attention to detail. You aren’t just sitting around waiting for your tenants to pay rent – maintaining your property is one of your chief responsibilities.
To that end, property inspections are an essential part of your job – if not carried out, you could face some unpleasant surprises when they move out. Imagine your in-demand London residential property needing pest control and repair to maintain its value, just because you didn’t conduct regular and thorough inspections.
An inspection can be intrusive and upsetting to a tenant, though – something you want to avoid with good tenants. Put yourself in their shoes, and apply these measures as you go about your business.
As a landlord, you may have a portfolio of letting properties, and you’re well within your rights to conduct periodic inspections on each one. But what may be a routine part of your business isn’t necessarily something the other party is familiar with.
It could be your tenant’s first time living in a rental property; they may be foreigners still adjusting to the country and language, or they might have previously rented from less organised landlords. Don’t just rely on having the inspection schedule written into your tenancy agreement; have a clear and concise initial conversation with them to set proper expectations regarding property inspections and how you’ll conduct them.
Give advance notice
It may be your property, but conducting an inspection makes an imposition on the tenant. Even if they can’t be present during the inspection (not ideal, but it can happen), you have to give your tenant at least 24 hours’ notice in advance and work with them to set up a schedule which is suitable to both parties.
Remember to send a written notification to your tenant, whether in email or letter form. No matter how trustworthy your tenant may seem, this is still a business; being methodical and documenting everything will cover your bases and prove helpful in case you need to serve and enforce a Section 21 notice.
When you arrive and conduct your inspection, you’ll have a checklist of things to go through and look for – and you may furnish your tenant with a copy so that they can be better prepared. However, you have to keep in mind that this is also your tenant’s home.
Minimise any intrusion to only cover what is necessary; don’t cross the line regarding privacy. You can make notes, and take photos of damage, but avoid criticising non-impacting behaviour. Unless you can find actual evidence, simply observing a messy room or disorganised kitchen doesn’t equate to damaged floors or unacceptable hygiene, for example.
Conducting an inspection can put tenants through a bit of stress and anxiety. Even if they haven’t been negligent, it can create the sense that you’re looking for something amiss. As you will be recording the results of the inspection anyway, take the time to inform your tenant of the results in a polite, professional manner. You could send this in an email after a day or two to put their mind at ease (and document the conversation, of course).
By conducting inspections with minimal fuss and keeping your interactions courteous and professional, you can do your diligence without upsetting your valued tenants.