Learn how to survive dreaded rental property inspections without a hitch with this handy checklist.
You might be a tenant preparing for a visit from your real estate agent or landlord, or maybe you’re a prospective tenant trawling through countless internet ads, applications and through countless potential properties.
On the other hand, maybe you’re a landlord checking to see that everything is okay with your investment property under your tenant’s care, or preparing for the groups of prospective tenants who hopefully will want to rent from you.
Whichever group you belong to, 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.
Investors and renters: What to look for 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. 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.
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 give the stovetop a good scrub. Built-up grease around these areas will not be looked upon kindly. 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. Clear away the debris and get scrubbing. That goes for the sinks, mirror, shower and bathtub, too.
- 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 joins of shelves in bathrooms and kitchens. Make sure you give them a thorough look-over.
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. As in the living room, having a quick look at the state of the walls and floorboards 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.
- General clean-up. If you are a tenant, chances are the agent or landlord isn’t going to poke around your bedroom too much, but giving it a general clean-up, throwing away any scrap paper and giving the surfaces a wipe-down will go miles towards making a good impression during inspections.
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. If you are the one preparing for the inspections, have a good sweep around the whole exterior of the property and clear away any cobwebs.
- 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. Check the garage doors if the property has them and ensure that the whole space is kept relatively clean and well-organised.
And a little tip for every room? A touch of scented oil or air freshener goes a long way to telling your visitor: I’m clean!
If you follow this checklist you’re sure not to forget anything on inspection day. Whether you are a tenant or a landlord, if there is something not up to scratch, speak up. Now is your chance to acknowledge issues with the property together and avoid problems in the future.
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