CONTRIBUTORSElite AgentEPM: Best Practice & Legislation

Nick Brown: What are routine inspections really for?

A routine rental inspection is not just to assess how well a tenant is caring for a property, it's also an opportunity to update landlords on any maintenance required. As Nick Brown explains, part of being a good property manager is helping your investors secure the best possible rental return.

When we take on the management of a property, it’s a given that we take on a huge responsibility to look after it and keep the investor up-to-date with anything that happens at the home.

One of the best ways to have our finger on the pulse is the ability to inspect the property throughout a tenancy.

On these inspections, property managers are typically trained to look at how the tenant cares for the property.

This includes whether the tenant is keeping the gardens and lawns to a satisfactory standard and that there are no holes in walls, for example.

What may get overlooked is how the property is ageing, general wear and tear and deterioration.

Property owners want to get the best possible rent return in any market – that’s a given!

But are they aware there may be things preventing them from achieving this?

After all, most investors won’t have seen the property with their own eyes for some time. 

So, when you conduct routine property inspections, you should look at two primary things:

  1. Is the tenant caring for the property?
  2. Is there anything the owner needs to be aware of?

No rent roll is perfect, and no licensee can say they have 100 per cent, amazingly kept and updated the properties on their books.

I don’t have an issue with any of my properties being older or needing updating; provided the owners ensure they are safe, the inclusions are in working order, and the tenants are happy.

After all, if you have happy tenants, you have happy owners, and if you have happy owners, you have a happy business.

You don’t have to be an expert in all trades to keep an owner up-to-date with what needs improvement (whether throughout a tenancy or between tenancies).

But it is important to keep them updated on what could improve the property, what could keep the property looking its best and ultimately, what would give the owner the best chance of a great rent return when the property next becomes vacant.

This doesn’t mean they have to spend a lot of money – but a property will need money spent on it from time to time to ensure it’s up to scratch and comparable in the marketplace.

When our agency conducts inspections, we look at the following things:

  • Do the gardens need a mulch top up or larger trees trimmed?
  • Could the property do with a repaint, new carpets and/or window furnishings?
  • Are all appliances in working order?
  • How does the cabinetry look throughout the home?
  • Does the driveway and pathways/stairs need a high-pressure clean?
  • Do all boundary fences look stable and intact?
  • Are there any rust marks or deterioration in the guttering and downpipes?
  • How do the grout and silicon look in wet areas (especially shower bases)?
  • When was the last time the air-conditioning and garage door motors were serviced?

Nothing in the above list requires more than your real estate qualification and a trained set of eyes to identify.

But they are items that will help the owner achieve the best rental return and make the property more attractive to prospective tenants.

A property that is more attractive to potential tenants also attracts a better quality of tenant and a better chance of a long-term tenant.

Take the time to look at the property and not just the tenancy when doing routine inspections.

Doing so is a win-win for all involved.

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Nick Brown

With over 20 years’ wide-ranging experience in real estate, Nick Brown is the founder of Edge Property and runs his own Training and Advisory Service to educate agencies and their teams.