Most disputes and litigation between an owner and their agent are over the condition of the property, and in most cases, the routine inspection is directly or indirectly connected.
Ensuring that the routine inspection is done thoroughly and competently is essential for any property management service.
We also acknowledge that there are states in the USA that don’t use the word ‘inspection’ but rather ‘assessment’ because ‘inspection’ could imply that the property manager has builder qualifications.
In any case, a representative of the agency should be visiting the property and assessing tenant performance at least a couple of times a year.
These are the most common mistakes we see when conducting routine inspections (collected as part of recent competition and we thank everyone for their contribution).
20 Common mistakes property managers make when conducting routine inspections:
#1 – Doing too many inspections in a day
Routine inspections can be quite tiring and after you’ve done more than a few, this can result in corners being cut and shortcuts taken. Understand your personal energy levels and be realistic about your limit. Keep the number of inspections that you conduct in a row at a level that works for you. If you get tired quickly, then you should not be doing a whole day of them all in a row!
#2 – Beware the ‘desk’ inspection attitude!
Too many property managers trade thoroughness for complacency just to get through as quickly as possible and do not access all rooms inside and all areas outside, looking out for issues like un-authorised pets, suspicious warning signs and concerning repair and damage issues.
Once this habit begins, it is likely to become permanent until a situation blows up when something obvious gets missed.
Where does this attitude end? The slippery slope of human nature kicks in.
This becomes the kitchen inspection (walk into the kitchen and say ‘well it’s a waste of time me being here’ and walk out). This then turns into the ‘front door inspection’(knock, ask for the repair request form, thank the tenant and leave), then to the ‘kerb-side inspection’ (park, look and drive off), to the drive-by (you don’t even stop) and then to the most lazy and negligent inspection of all – the desk inspection!
It happens, I’ve seen this occur too many times! Don’t let it happen to you!
#3 – Not referring to the ingoing condition report or photos
The property needs to be maintained as it was found (less fair wear and tear) and how can you really check this properly without referring to the ingoing condition report and photos?
It is easy to check the outside by looking at the initial inspection photos first. Referring to previous inspections on an Ipad makes this process so much easier these days, or simply take the file with you to check the photos on record.
#4 – Not referring to or being aware of special conditions
When you conduct an inspection without being aware of the property is ‘no pets’, or ‘garage is not for tenant use’ or some other special tenancy condition specific to that property, issues can be overlooked and missed that will blow up later.
This can typically happen when the inspecting property manager is relieving or is a replacement property manager not making themselves aware of the special conditions set at tenancy start.
There’s nothing more incompetent than a property manager complimenting a tenant on their dog when they were not even aware it should not have been there in the first place!
#5 – Not following up on reported repairs
How many property managers get the sense of ‘deja vu’ at inspections, having reported the very same issue 3 months before but nothing got done?
When an owner gets an email (with all the other hundreds of emails they get) it can quickly get overlooked. Call the owner several days after the inspection to discuss what should be done and get their instructions.
Using ‘screen recording’ to create a video message from your computer recording what you say and see, and send it to them as a link they can watch (like a youtube clip, but kept private).
See screencast-o-matic.com for this easy to use cheap software.
#6 – Not inspecting typical outside issues
When the average property manager spends only 20 minutes at a routine inspection, things like eaves, facias, outside sills, guttering/drop pipes, flyscreens and ridge capping don’t even warrant a glimpse.
If you have no time for this, or you say ‘that’s not my job’ you need to ensure you’ve arranged for a tradesperson go to the property for a repairs and maintenance inspection every 6-12 months. If you don’t, this issue WILL come back and bite you!
#7 – Not thanking the tenant
Imagine this; the tenant gets a notice of inspection and then spends hours and hours cleaning the home and making sure the outside is perfect.
As they work during the day they’re unable to attend the inspection.
The property manager attends, likes what they see and lets the owner know everything is presented really well with NO FEEDBACK to the tenant left in writing or otherwise?
Heard that one before? You now run the risk of the tenant developing a bad attitude towards you and you’re wondering why they’re a little ‘brief’ with you next time you see them.
Give credit where credit is due and thank your good tenants at EVERY opportunity.
They make your life that bit easier. Make sure you’re thankful for that!
#8 – Not giving written feedback to the tenant
Too many property managers leave no written feedback as to how the tenant has performed, good or otherwise.
If you do leave a note, make sure you take a photo or picture as a record and place it on file.
#9 – Not addressing tenant damage or issues
When you’ve noticed tenant damage, don’t ignore it. Present the issue to the tenant. Leaving or ignoring it will come back and bite you later on if the issue goes to tribunal or court later on. The fact that it was overlooked or ignored and not addressed at that inspection could be the very reason why the tenant wasn’t held responsible for it.
#10 – Not booking in geographic clusters
When you book in an inspection based on the date (for example 6 weeks after or 3 months after the tenancy start) then you might be spending too much time on the road.
Make sure you book all your inspections as close together geographically, to totally minimize drive time between inspections so you can get the maximum number done. The first inspection might not be exactly in line with your traditional time frames but as long as your promise to owners doesn’t stipulate these time frames exactly, then you can fit them in when you’re doing that area next.
Click here to read Part Two for the remaining ten mistakes made by PMs during routine inspections.