Here are 10 things to check in a do-it-yourself rental property inspection from a veteran landlord and manager in the field.
By Phil Schaller
Conducting an informational inspection/walkthrough of your rental property is important periodically; we recommend at least once a year.
It allows you to understand how your tenants are treating the property, troubleshoot for larger issues, plan some preventative maintenance, and build trust with your tenants.
While there are hundreds of items you could inspect in a walkthrough, we’re going to focus on the low-hanging fruit and most important boxes to check.
Before we get into the list, here’s a few pointers:
- Schedule this walkthrough far in advance with your tenants; they’ll keep it on the radar and (hopefully) focus on keeping the property in good shape. Washington State requires at least 48 hours written notice before anyone enters the dwelling.
- Communicate to your tenants why you’re conducting this walkthrough. You want to know what’s going on with the property but you also want to make sure you’re providing a hospitable environment for your tenants.
- We recommend conducting these walkthroughs with a general contractor or maintenance pro (RentalRiff can help) as an unbiased third party and someone who can easily diagnose/fix certain issues.
Without further ado, here we go on rental property inspection items
- Replace furnace filters: This is an easy one. You’ll need a filter on hand, but it’s easy and not expensive. Replacing a broken furnace, on the other hand, is very expensive.
2. Replace smoke and carbon-monoxide alarm batteries: Another easy one – aside from the liability you’ll have on your hands if these alarms don’t work during an emergency. Let’s keep everyone safe!
3. Clean out dryer vents: While cleaning out a dryer vent may require slightly more elbow grease than changing batteries, it’s another important safety precaution. Vacuum cleaners with a hose or dryer-vent kits work well. This can be a severe fire hazard.
4. Switch the GFIs: We can’t tell you how many calls we get for electrical work that can be solved with the push of a button. Get ahead of these issues by switching the GFI for your tenants.
5. Run water and check for leaks under the sinks: An easy way to do this is to turn on the water and throw a baking pan under the plumbing to see if any liquid is captured.
6. Turn on all appliances: Turn on all appliances for a quick check and listen for anything unusual. That weird sound your dishwasher is making may indicate a new one is in your future.
7. Run the garbage disposal: The No. 1 maintenance request landlords receive is for garbage disposals. We recommend giving them a tighten with an Allen wrench and/or a reset. Olive pits love giving landlords a headache.
8. Test the heating and air conditioning: You’re required as a landlord to provide a humane environment for your tenants – this means a livable temperature. We like to turn the AC on full blast to check, then switch to heat. It’s easy to inspect other items while checking these systems.
9. Inspect crawl spaces and attics: Pests love these areas. Look for poop, termite damage and small entryways – no one likes living with rats.
10. Check ceilings, walls, floors, doors and windows: OK, so we crammed a few into No. 10 here, but any sign of water damage (dark/wet spots, cracks in drywall, mold) is a big red flag and requires an immediate solution.
Many of our customers will schedule several walkthroughs throughout the year (based on the tenants and condition of the property). If you have any questions on how to conduct these informal walkthroughs yourself, we’re happy to chat or provide some more insight.
Phil Schaller is an experienced landlord and the founder/CEO of RentalRiff, an alternative service to traditional property management. RentalRiff’s licensed and insured property specialists provide oversight and upkeep of rental properties, while serving as the main point of contact for tenants. Maintenance and repair costs are included. Phil is a Pacific Northwest native, father of two, and fly-fishing addict. Contact him at www.rentalriff.com/contact-us.