As a residential property manager, regularly documenting the condition of your properties not only protects your owners’ investments, but it will save you time and money long-term. But what’s the difference between an inspection and a periodic walkthrough? How often are you supposed to check on your properties, and how in-depth should the documentation be?
We’ll answer all those questions and more! Let’s start with some terminology, and then we’ll get into:
- The cadence of property walkthroughs and inspections
- How thorough the documentation should be, and
- A great example of a condition report
Property inspections vs. property walkthroughs (and what are condition reports?)
A rental property inspection provides an idea of the current condition of the property, along with any repairs that may need to be done now or in the future. Inspections, when completed somewhat regularly, allow you to identify any issues before they become costly disasters.
A rental property walkthrough involves the tenant, and can either occur when they’re moving in, moving out, or mid-tenancy. Usually, a checklist will be used, along with photos and videos to properly record the property’s current condition. If the walkthrough occurs before move-in, the tenant will then sign off on the checklist, and it will be used to differentiate normal wear and tear from damages that may be able to come out of the security deposit at the end of the lease.
A condition report refers to the actual documentation from doing property walkthroughs. Regardless of when the walkthrough occurs, whether before move-in or during tenancy, the documentation doesn’t vary too much. Check out our examples of a move-in/move-out report and our mid-tenancy condition report, both professionally conducted by Showdigs Agents!
How often should you document the condition of a rental property?
Ideally, you or a third-party should document the condition of your rental properties every 6 months. When the property is occupied, it’s best practice to conduct a mid-tenancy inspection to ensure your tenants are following all of the leasing terms and to check for any maintenance issues.
If your state doesn’t require mid-tenancy inspections or you’re not interested in inspecting an occupied property, you should still complete a rental property inspection at least once a year and in-between tenants.
Conducting property inspections more than once every six months could potentially be bothersome to tenants and probably isn’t worth the hassle. However, when walkthroughs are performed in moderation, this allows you to build a relationship with your tenants. Make sure your renter understands that you care about their living space and you’re there to ensure everything in the home is working as expected. Neglecting walkthroughs just to hope that you don’t receive a 2AM emergency maintenance call is not best for you, your client, or your tenant.
What are the benefits of regularly checking the condition of a rental property?
There are several benefits when it comes to regularly inspecting and documenting the condition of your rental properties!
First, your owners want to know their investment is being taken care of. Regular condition updates will give them peace of mind and help them feel confident in choosing your property management services.
Second, maintenance issues are typically easier and cheaper to fix in the beginning stages. Maintenance issues that get put off because the tenants don’t mention it can easily become bigger issues if not taken care of as soon as they arise. Mid-tenancy walkthroughs ensure that you’re able to nip any issues in the bud, preventing those dreaded 2AM maintenance calls we discussed earlier.
Lastly, your tenants may appreciate regular rental property inspections as it shows them that you care about making where they live as nice, safe, and livable as possible.
What if you don't have the time or staff to handle rental inspections?
Many property managers feel as though they don't have the time, staff, or resources to manage rental inspections twice a year. Fear not — there are options!
- Did you know you can outsource things like condition reports? Showdigs Agents are local, licensed real estate agents specially trained to inspect your rental properties for you. Our Agents are trained to produce high-quality condition reports, like the ones linked above, that can be sent directly to owners!
- Some property management companies are opting to have tenants do inspections for mid-tenancy and/or move-in. While this may seem easier in the short-term, you would have to rely on the tenant's word which may put the property at risk and leave you vulnerable to safety deposit disputes.
- If you’re not currently conducting property walkthroughs or inspections, start with annual inspections and find time to do them yourself, then consider doing them twice a year when it's feasible.
Want to easily stay up-to-date with your condition reports?
Showdigs has a network of licensed real estate agents trained to complete mid-tenancy and move-in/move-out inspections for you, whenever you need it — click here to learn more!