Renting a property often takes a lot of trust. Handing over possession to someone you are less familiar with can be daunting, and you might be concerned with how they may return the property to you. Fortunately, it is well within your rights as a landlord to inspect the property. This doesn’t just have to be about scrutinizing the tenant’s behaviour - it might also be useful to see if there are any dangers or defects which need to be addressed. Here is a quick guide to rental property inspections Legislate has put together.
When can I inspect the property?
For assured shorthold tenancies, the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 allows landlords to enter the premises to view its ‘condition and state of repair’. However, landlords must provide the tenant with at least 24 hours’ written notice. Moreover, landlords can only perform an inspection at ‘reasonable times of the day’. The tenant must agree to the visit. If they do not agree to the visit, then you may have to apply for a court order - otherwise entering might be construed as trespass. The court orders available to you include a section 21 notice and a section 8 notice.
What to expect during a rental inspection?
Inspecting a rental is an opportunity to:
- Spot repairs & maintenance issues
- Assess living conditions
- Spot illegal activities
- Build relationship with tenant(s)
- Dampness & mould
- Condition of fittings
- Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
How should I be inspecting the property?
Work through each room methodically. Make notes on the condition of each room to reference for future inspections. Take photos of anything of note in the event of disputes. Sign and date the property checklist and ask the tenant to do the same. Make sure to check every corner of the property - be it attics and basements, windows, interior beams, even the garden or outdoor area. The checklist report is required if you choose to evict the tenant on the basis of breaching the terms of your agreement, or withhold a portion of their security deposit.
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What safety checks are required?
There are various checks that landlords need to carry out in order to maintain statutory standards. These mostly concern the safety of the property and its fitness for habitation. Smoke alarms should be functioning property and equipped with batteries. The property should have hot water and heating with up to scratch boilers. All appliances should be in good condition and be able to work. Make sure there are no faulty electrics in sockets, light fittings and wires. The property should also have a functioning fire exit which is not obstructed in any way.
What health checks are required?
Landlords have a duty of care to keep their property habitable. There are common plagues which affect every rental property. Damp can be spotted in peeling wallpaper and dark patches on the walls. Floodboards can also become rotten and unstable due to damp. If the property has a musty smell then there is likely mould or mildew around. Check the taps and plumbing for leaks, and check whether the gutters need to be cleared out. Pest infestations are also critical to find early because they are often difficult to tackle. If there is a foul smell in the property then there may be a blocked drain which needs fixing.
What breaches of the tenancy agreement should I check for?
There may be tenants who are not abiding by the terms of the contract they signed with you. If you have incorporated an anti-smoking clause, be sure to check if the scent of cigarettes is pungent on the property. The smell is often covered up by air freshener, but you can also inspect nicotine staining on the walls and ceilings if they are a light colour. Similarly, be on the lookout for drug paraphernalia or odd smells which indicate illegal substances. If you have incorporated an anti-pet clause, look for scratched doors, carpet damage and litter to find out whether they have hidden one. If you have prohibited subletting in the tenancy agreement, try to see whether there are extra mattresses or any else which indicates residence. Property damage is also something to be on lookout for, and it is worth taking pictures for evidence.
From looking for the right tenant to making a property safe, creating a tenancy agreement is only one of several responsibilities of a landlord. Legislate is a contracting platform where you can create easy-to-understand and legally valid agreements on your own terms. You can read how to create your first Legislate agreements in our tutorial or watch a short demo. If you would like to try Legislate, please book an introductory call.
The opinions on this page are for general information purposes only and do not constitute legal advice on which you should rely.