The Importance of Routine Inspections
29/04/2015 by Tanesha Richter, Property Portfolio Manager
No doubt you will have heard many nightmare scenarios of unruly tenants turning beautiful homes into anything from brothels to drug labs to party houses. However, to avoid such unwanted situations, there is a simple and effective way of ensuring your investment property is appropriately maintained and being used for the right reasons; that is to conduct routine inspections. These inspections are vital to guarantee your tenants are doing the right thing. The Residential Tenancies Act 1997 states that a property can be inspected every six months during a tenancy, provided that more than 24 hours written notice has been given to the tenant.
Why are routine inspections critical?
Conducting routine inspections not only protects the property itself, but also ensures communication is kept open between the landlord, the tenant and the Property Manager. On top of routine inspections, the tenant may also advise the Property Manager of any maintenance issues that arise.
It’s important any maintenance issues are assessed by the Property Manager, as they can ensure the right trade person is engaged to get the job done effectively, lawfully and at the right price.
During routine inspections or maintenance visits, a Property Manager can also assess the overall condition of the property.
Things they will look out for are:
- Cracked plaster in walls or ceilings
- Mould growth
- Flooring stability (i.e. is it safe to walk on?)
- Visible water damage or water marks
- Cracked or chipped windows
- Any exposed wiring or lighting
Two names on the lease but ten beds!
As stated in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, a tenant under a tenancy agreement must not assign or sub-let the whole or any part of the rented premises without the landlord’s written consent. At the time of the routine inspection, the Property Manager can question the tenant if they are concerned there are more people residing at the property than there should be. If evidence is shown that the tenant on the lease is accepting payment for someone else to use the property, an application to VCAT can be made to have the matter heard.
The place was a mess! What now?
The tenant must keep the rented premises clean and tidy, whilst avoiding any potential damage. Failure to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 can result in the Property Manager serving the tenant with a written notice for breach of duty to the landlord of the rented premises, and has the right to re-inspect the property 14 days after the notice has been given to ensure the tenant has rectified the issue.
REPORT, REPORT, REPORT!
During the time of inspection, it is important for the Property Manager to document the condition of the property and be able to provide feedback to the landlord. Some property management companies provide landlords with a written report and photographs of the property. If the Property Manager or landlord wants to take photos, the tenant must be informed in writing. An inspection report should be kept on file for future rental references.
Some maintenance repairs are considered ‘urgent,’ as detailed in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. They include:
• burst water service
• blocked or broken toilet system
• serious roof leak
• gas leak
• dangerous electrical fault
• flooding or serious flood damage
• serious storm or fire damage
• failure or breakdown of any essential service or appliance provided by a landlord or agent for hot water, water, cooking, heating, or laundering
• failure or breakdown of the gas, electricity or water supply
• any fault or damage in the premises that makes the premises unsafe or insecure
• an appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working properly and causes a substantial amount of water to be wasted
• a serious fault in a lift or staircase
The importance of routine inspections
By ensuring your Property Manager conducts regular inspections, and by making certain repairs and maintenance in the property are addressed and resolved as quickly as possible, it will create agreeable conditions for all parties. Regular inspections are not only essential for the value and longevity of the property, it is also vital in maintaining quality tenants.
If you are unsure about your obligations as a landlord or tenant, or would like to speak with someone about your investment property, please call our office on 1300 726 082 and ask to speak with a Property Portfolio Manager who will be able to assist.
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