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Why a 5-minute walk and a cup of coffee goes a long way in rental inspections

1st July 2014
Rental inspection: The 5-minute walk and a cup of coffee approach.

Rental inspection: The 5-minute walk and a cup of coffee approach.

At Bridgman Property Management, we love impromptu walks around the land of a rental property. It’s completely legal to walk on the land without giving notice (though it would be good etiquette to do so, if the tenant is likely to be home).

There’s a lot you can learn in 5 minutes with a cup of coffee in your hand!

There are all sorts of clues you may notice on the exterior of a property.

Many clues can indicate changes in the tenant’s situation, or maybe they’re just letting standards slip.

More than 50% of tenancy problems can be uncovered by entering the land once a month

Doing a full rental inspection is a lot of work, so it pays to be vigilant in-between rental inspections.

An errant tenant will know they have a 3 or 4-month breather in between rental inspections. But bad habits tend not to re-occur if the landlord is often on site!

Best of all, it costs you very little in time to do an informal exterior property check. And under the Residential Tenancies Act you don’t need to give the tenants notice of entering the land only.

What do you do if you spot something that looks like a potential problem?

If your 5-minute walk reveals a problem, you need to speak to the tenant about it immediately and this may need to be face-to-face

Over time, you will realise that tenants have a limited repertoire of problems, and anticipating their response will help you with your tenant communications and negotiation.

Here are some of the typical responses you may hear…

When you speak to a tenant about the problem you’ve spotted, some of the popular responses are:

“My sister and her children are moving in for 6 weeks.”

“My brother is going to Australia and is leaving his dog with us.”

“One of my cars has broken down and I’m going to put it up on blocks in the back section to fix it.”

“We’ve had some extra expenses and can’t pay for the lawn mowing this month.”

All of these examples contravene the tenancy agreement!

If a tenant’s action contravenes the tenancy agreement, you need to make them aware of this. The tenant needs to be clear that it’s their problem to fix – and not yours. Be very specific in your tenant communication, and make it clear what outcome you need, and when it needs to happen by.

(If need be, work through the steps in the tenant troubleshooting guide.)

Remember, that property management is about property management

That may seem obvious, but your role is to (a) look after the asset – that is, the property; and (b) manage it, which means acting in an authoritative manner.

However, if you’re regularly visiting the land to check the outside (with or without a cup of coffee), it will prevent many problems from arising in the first place. A tenant will be less likely to try and pull the wool over the landlord’s eyes if the landlord is regularly on site. (Conversely, a tenant is far more likely to “try it on” with a landlord they rarely see.) Therefore these low-key, exterior property checks can actually cut down on your workload in the long term.

Remember, problems on the inside of the house or flat will generally remain hidden until you open the front door. However, problems on the land aren’t hidden, they are very obvious, and are a warning beacon of what could be going on inside.

What’s more, the A1 tenants will appreciate that you’re checking to see that the gardening contractor has mowed the lawns and cut the hedges to a good standard.


  • It is legal for a landlord to walk on the land (i.e. the property’s exterior) without giving the tenants notice.
  • Frequent exterior checks can help identify problems in the tenancy early on.
  • If the landlord is regularly on site, a tenant is less likely to “try it on”.
  • This tactic can cut down on your workload in the long term.
  • At Bridgman Property Management we love impromptu 5-minute walks around the properties we manage!



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