EPMEPM: Best Practice & Legislation

The Great Inspection Roundup

Heidi Walkinshaw from Real Plus offers some tips and suggestions to make your inspection rounds that little bit easier.

Routines, periodics, ingoings, commencements, vacates, finals: whatever you like to call them, when it comes to office tasks we often find this is one that tends to take a segue into Neverland and is sometimes forgotten.

Your inspections don’t need to be a nightmare task. It’s a great opportunity to check how the property is being maintained and advise the owner of any maintenance that may be needed now or in the future to maximise the potential of their investment.

There now exists a wide variety of apps and technology to assist in making the inspection task much easier and provide a step towards a seamless process. It’s just a case of carrying out your research and finding out which one suits your team and requirements.

THE INGOING INSPECTION
This inspection sets the foundation for the tenancy and the condition of the property. We rely on this inspection at the end of the tenancy, so it is vitally important that we get this right from the beginning. Take a look at your procedure in place for your ingoing; ensure that you have all your bases covered and even a checklist in place to assist in making the process easier. Some essential steps in this inspection would be:

  • Identify that the property is vacant – you cannot carry out an ingoing inspection for a new tenancy of the property unless it has been vacated and you have a clear view of all aspects of the property. Also ensure that all cleaning and repairs have been completed.
  • Ensure you have copies of all keys, security swipes and remotes for each of the tenants and a copy for the office.
  • In any properties that have pools, ensure they are completely compliant with state legislation, registered and with correct fencing, signage and security.
  • In furnished properties, take an inventory of the furniture, the condition of each item and the room it is located in, including colour, brand and number of items.
  • Check that smoke alarms and light globes are all working.
  • Make sure all boxes on the report have been completed and that descriptions and details are recorded with size of flaws, including marks, scratches, burn marks, dents and also fixtures such as hooks, screws and nails. Check that all appliances are in good working order and record colours, make, models and serial numbers.
  • Take as many photos as required to cover everything.

Explain the condition report in full at the time of issue and have the tenant sign off, acknowledging receipt of the report and any other documents they receive on a separate form. It is not compliant to have the tenant sign the office copy of the condition report, sight unseen, and then give them a copy to complete.

Follow up with the tenant within seven days after issue for their returned, signed report and compare it with the original report completed by you. Follow up on any discrepancies in the two reports and handle any identified repairs and maintenance. These should also be followed up with the owner.

A well prepared Condition Report will protect both the owner client and the tenant against avoidable issues at the end of the tenancy and may just save you the additional stress.

THE VACATE INSPECTION
Tenants vacating can bring out all manner of emotions, which can very quickly turn those once lovely tenants into monsters. A few tasks to consider to try and maintain a civil relationship may include:

  • At the commencement of the tenancy, lay down the ground rules. Let the tenants know how you expect the property to be looked after, stressing the conditions of the lease regarding care of the property.
  • Pre-vacate inspections are a perfect opportunity to sort out any potential problems that might be present at the property and give the tenant the chance to fix these before the vacate inspection.
  • Invite the tenant to the vacate inspection at a time that is suitable for you. If they cannot make it at that time, then carry on the inspection without them. Make sure that you call or email the tenant after the inspection to inform them of the result.

Communicate with the tenant throughout the process and explain the bond refund procedure. In most cases a reasonable person will understand the situation once it has been explained to them; however, there are those other cases in which you are left with a neglected property and a difficult tenant, which may mean a bond claim and possible tribunal action if it all goes pear-shaped.

THE ROUTINE INSPECTION
With winter on its way, it’s tempting to hibernate in the warmth of our office environments and try and avoid the outside world. However, it is important not to forget the crucial task of routine inspections in this period.

  • When it comes to routine inspection frequency, it is important to check the legislative requirements for your state. For example, in NSW you are not allowed more than four inspections in a twelve-month period, which can make it interesting should you be carrying out quarterly inspections and need to go back for any reason. You may find that you hit your quota faster than you think.
  • Create an inspection schedule for your properties, allocated by due month or by geographical zones, and plan to send it out a month ahead. Your property management software can assist in automating this process.
  • Don’t get locked into individual times and allow yourself flexibility by allocating a time range.
  • Give yourself plenty of time. Most visits will take around fifteen to thirty minutes. This will allow time for you to explore issues that are concerning the tenant and inspect the property.
  • Ensure that you provide the correct notice in writing to the tenant to advise them of the inspection. Include information such as the use of a master key and that you may take digital images of the property at the inspection. Adding an information guide of the expectations of condition and a maintenance form can also be helpful.

The most important point when it comes to your inspections is to stay safe. This industry deals with some volatile personalities and it pays to trust your instincts. Don’t ever put yourself in a situation where you may be in harm’s way; if you feel threatened, take someone from your office with you. Your safety and sanity are paramount in this game.

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