Learn how to survive dreaded rental property inspections without a hitch with this handy checklist.
When you are on the hunt for a property to live in, you can easily get wrapped up in the emotion of finding a home and forget to properly check that the property is right for you. You have trawled through the ads and found a list of properties that fill all the basic criteria you have for a new home, and now you have to inspect them.
Just because a property looks good on paper doesn't mean it will stack up to this expectation in person. Learning to go over a property with a critical eye and having a method to your inspection madness will help you get the most out of inspection day.
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Our comprehensive PDF will help you choose the perfect rental property for you. With it you can compare up to four properties and leave no stone unturned.
What to look at in a property
This is the meeting or communal area in properties, especially if they are shared houses. They can get cluttered with the little bits and pieces from all the goings-on in the house.
- Walls. The condition of the walls is very important. A paint job might hide a few minor sins, but you should be able to see any cracks if you look closely. If you’re renting, superficial cracks probably shouldn’t worry you, but be sure to note them on your rental contract so you are not hit with any surprise repair costs. Having a look along the bottom of the walls should also give you a pretty good indication of any rising dampness.
- Lights. Switch on and off all the lights to see if they work and have a peek at the surrounds on the light fittings for any loose electrical cables.
- Smoke alarms. It is a legal requirement that smoke alarms work and are tested in front of tenants in Australia.
- Floorboards or carpet. Floorboards can easily show signs of wear and they are expensive to fix. Apart from the old walk-over-and-listen-for-creaks test, if floorboards have started to come up at the edges, be sure to make a note of it. Once they start to lift you can have a problem on your hands. If there is carpet look also at the edges for lifting or any pulls in the carpet.
Kitchen and bathroom
These are the two areas that should literally shine, especially on inspection day. Even for the most laid-back landlord or tenant, if these spaces are icky it can be a deal breaker.
- Taps. It might seem harmless, but a dripping tap can have catastrophic effects on utility bills. Check that all dripping taps are securely fixed.
- Sinks and plumbing. Listen for any strange sounds when you turn the taps on and off. It also doesn’t hurt to check under the sinks for leaks.
- Kitchen appliances and fittings. Open the stove, run your finger over the rangehood and check the stovetop is in good order. Built-up grease around these areas can be hard to remove if not addressed. Also, if appliances like fridges and microwaves are part of the deal, make sure to open them and check that they are clean.
- Tiles and surfaces. Again, it’s all about the shine. That goes for the sinks, mirror, shower and bathtub, too. You also need to check for chips and cracks as these may become bigger issues later.
- Toilet and bin areas. Do an extra check around the likely-to-get-dirty-quickly places like the toilets and bin areas. They should give you a good indication of how much love the property is receiving.
- The cupboards. Gunk and grime tend to get caught between the hinges of cupboards and in the joints of shelves in bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure you give them a thorough look-over. Also check for insect or rodent droppings or traps as this could indicate an infestation you have to deal with later.
Bedrooms are generally considered private spaces. As they are probably the least likely space to get really dirty, just have a check for any indications of general dirtiness or structural disrepair.
- Walls and floorboards or carpet. As in the living room, having a quick look at the state of the walls and floorboards or carpet should give you a pretty good idea of how recently the property has had any TLC.
- Windows and doors. Open windows and doors and check the handles and locks, if they have them. Sliding doors and windows especially tend to fall into disrepair. Check also that there are fly screens that are in good condition.
- Storage and robes. Are there robes or sufficient storage for your clothes and personal items. Check the doors or drawers on these to make sure they are all in good working order and well maintained.
The exterior of the house will be the first thing anybody sees when they arrive, so don’t neglect it in favour of getting the interior up-to-scratch. First impressions count.
- Dust and cobwebs. Although these things build up naturally over time if there is a large build up during your inspection it may be that there is no care for the property which could be bad news for you if you choose to be a tenant.
- Entrance doors. Check the locks and handles to see that they function correctly.
- Gates and garden. If the property has gates or a garden, don’t forget to look them over as well. Now is a good time to check for any non-human residents the property might be housing.
- Garage or car space. Check the garage doors if the property has them and ensure that the whole space is kept relatively clean and well-organised. Also check that the security for any garage or car space.
The list above is just a quick overview of what to look at, download our more comprehensive checklist below to take with you and compare properties to make sure not to forget anything on inspection day. If there is something not up to scratch, speak up, now is your chance to acknowledge issues with the property with the real estate agent and avoid problems in the future.