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The fine-tooth comb: Inspecting your rental properties

By Jamil Allouche

Inspections are an integral part of maintaining a rental home. If you own an investment property in Brunswick, you'll want to make sure you carry out regular inspections. This is both to ensure your investment isn't being damaged by tenants, and also to help you fulfil your responsibility to maintain suitable living conditions.

A report released in February this year by Choice and other tenant protection agencies states that 14 per cent of renters don't communicate issues to their landlords for fear of adverse consequences. Conducting regular inspections provides a formal occasion for you to become aware of issues that you might otherwise not be alerted to.

Make sure to be aware of the best practices for conducting inspections, from knowing what to look for to respecting the rights of your tenants.

The landlord's right to entry

Before you inspect your rental property, you'll need to let your tenants know. It's important you respect the time and privacy of your tenants. Failure to do so could result in disputes taken to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

Under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, landlords and agents are not required to obtain consent from tenants in order to inspect the property. You are however required to give notice of your intention to enter.

You must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Notice must be given at least 24 hours in advance;
  • clearly state the reason for entry; and
  • be delivered via mail or in person between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Inspections must also occur within the aforementioned hours, and you need to leave as soon as you've finished – unless of course you're invited to stay!

There's no need for tenants to be present for an inspection, but asking if any tenants would like to be there is courteous. It also allows you to meet face-to-face to discuss any issues up front.

In Victoria, inspections can't take place within the first three months of the tenancy, and shouldn't be more frequent than every six months following that. If you want to inspect the property more frequently, your tenant will need to give consent.

Assessing the condition of the property

Before conducting an inspection, it's a great idea to organise a checklist of things to inspect so that you don't miss anything. It's also wise to ask the tenant if they have noticed any particular areas of concern. This way, they can bring to light any issues you might miss.

Ensure every room is inspected and that you pay attention both to items that are your responsibility to maintain, and those of the tenant's. Matters such as door adjustments, window repairs, or plumbing issues fall to you. These things may not have been reported to you by tenants – either out of ignorance or reluctance to complain.

The general cleanliness of a property is the tenant's responsibility and should be addressed.

Checking for anything growing is particularly important, as if left untreated, mould can damage the structure of your property. Inspect curtains, walls, and window sills for any signs of mould. It's especially common in bathrooms and laundries if proper ventilation isn't provided. Consider installing an extractor fan or vented window if mould will be a persistent concern.

Any problems found need to be addressed. You should present a report to your tenants stating any matters requiring action on their part. If anything presents a serious health risk, you are obliged to remedy these as soon as possible.

Conducting inspections is one of the many duties a property manager can take on in your stead. To take the stress out of inspections, why not employ an experienced professional to manage your investment property? Get in touch – the team at Ray White Brunswick is ready to help.

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