There are many things you can learn about your tenants in-between property inspections.
Have you ever noticed how many ‘clues’ tenants leave outside the property?
What sorts of clues should you look for?
- Mail or newspapers not collected from the letterbox.
- The presentation of the lawn is deteriorating. If lawn mowing is the landlord’s responsibility, then they have the opportunity to contact contractor to remedy it before next invoice is paid. If lawn mowing is the tenant’s responsibility (which is not ideal), then the landlord can take this up with the tenant.
- The hedge presentation is deteriorating – in which case the same procedure should be followed as for lawn care.
- There is a vehicle in the tenant parking area that you haven’t seen before.
- Visitors’ vehicles are parked in the driveway for extended periods.
- There is a broken-down car parked outside the property.
- Cats or dogs present on site, when this contravenes the tenancy agreement. The clue here might be pet food bowls left outside.
- Rubbish building up around the premises, for example in the carport and driveway.
- Cigarette butts are found on the lawn.
- The property is rented to two adults, but children’s toys appear on the site for extended periods.
- You notice some damage (e.g. a broken window or guttering) that has not been reported to you.
- There’s a regular flow of visitors, but they only stay for a number of minutes.
- The curtains or blinds are drawn all the time.
- The tenants never seem to leave the house.
- You notice that surveillance cameras have been installed.
Notice how you don’t even have to go inside the property to see that something’s wrong?
You can spot all of these clues without even entering a property. Yes, it’s completely legal for you, as the landlord, to walk around the exterior of the property. And you don’t need to give the tenants notice. (Of course, if it’s going to be at a time when they’re likely to be home, a courtesy communication is prudent.)
But there’s a lot you can learn from a 5-minute walk around the land without doing full property inspections.
More frequent property inspections = better property management outcomes
More than 50% of tenancy problems can be uncovered by walking around the exterior of the property on a regular basis, say once a month.
The more often rental property inspections are carried out, the greater the likelihood of the tenancy being successful. This is for a number of reasons:
- The tenant knows that you’re keeping a watchful eye on the property, and will be less inclined to cause damage, or bend any of the other rules in the Tenancy Agreement.
- Regularly seeing your tenant face to face means that you get to build up a good working relationship.
- If you do spot any damage or other problems, you can nip them in the bud early before they escalate.
Why not rely on the official 3-monthly property inspections?
A lot can (and does) happen in the 3 or 4 months between property inspections. An errant tenant will know that they have a 3-month breather once the Property Manager leaves.
However, bad habits tend not to reoccur if the landlord is present on site regularly. And signs of change on the outside of the property usually mean there are changes inside, too.
At Bridgman Property Management, we love impromptu visits to walk around the land. 5 minutes with a cup of coffee in your hand will reveal a lot.
- Many tenancy problems can be uncovered by walking around the exterior of the property.
- It is legal for you to check the exterior of the property without giving notice, though a courtesy communication is prudent if the tenant is likely to be home.
- Be observant and look for clues and changes at these informal property inspections.
- Act immediately if you do identify any problems or issues.
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