Why are Rental Property Inspections Important?

WHY ARE RENTAL PROPERTY INSPECTIONS IMPORTANT?
Joint inspections are vital in establishing which party is liable for the damages/repairs to the property. Inspection reports aim to avoid future disputes between the landlord & tenant regarding who is responsible to repair noted damage to the property, either at the beginning or end of the rental period.

What is it?
detailed inspection report, often accompanied by photographs, which seeks to outline the property’s condition before the tenant takes occupation & after the tenant vacates. The inspections should always be in writing, signed by the parties and attached to the lease as an addendum.

When is it done?
The inspections are conducted at the beginning & the end of the lease period by both the landlord (or his appointed agent) & tenant.

According to the Rental Housing Act the landlord is also permitted to inspect the property during the lease period so long as reasonable notice is given to the tenant & the tenant’s right to privacy is not violated.

It is imperative that the landlord (or agent acting on behalf of the landlord) & tenant are present at both the entry & exit inspection. If the landlord fails to carry out an entry & exit inspection with the tenant present the property is assumed to be in acceptable condition & the landlord is not permitted to deduct any money for repair costs from the tenant’s rental deposit at the end of the lease term. Should the tenant not respond to the landlord/agent’s request for an inspection or fail to be present at the inspection, then the landlord/agent is entitled to carry out the inspection without the tenant and document all their findings.

Entry Inspection
On occupation the condition of the property & any pre-existing defects are thoroughly recorded to determine the landlord’s responsibility in resolving the defects that affect the beneficial occupation of the tenant before occupation takes place. The landlord is not required to fix each and every defect or imperfection on the demand of the tenant. Items that are not material need only be noted so that the tenant is not held responsible for these at the end of the lease. Typically these items will not affect the tenant's beneficial occupation of the property or the purpose for which the property has been let.

Most lease agreements allow the tenant to report additional defects that were previously missed within 7 days of the start of the lease agreement. To be fair some defects are only discovered when living in the property. These additional items should be reported by the tenant in writing, email is usually fine, but check the lease stipulations of the agreement. This, together with any items that have been repaired by the landlord, should be recorded.

Exit Inspection
On expiration of the lease, an inspection is done to ascertain if any damage was caused by the tenant to the property during the lease period. Its a good idea that the exit inspection is done on the same document as the entry inspection (the entry document should make provision for this) for ease of comparison.

The tenant is expected to return the property to the landlord in an acceptable condition (the same condition as it was when they took occupation) fair wear and tear excepted. This means reasonable wear and tear caused by normal use & exposure over time is deemed permissible in accordance with the Rental Housing Act or lease agreement. Any repairs to damage caused by the tenant needs be rectified before the lease expires and the tenant vacates the premises. Failure to do this will result in the landlord using the tenant’s deposit to rectify damage. Once this happens, the tenant has no control over the repairs and this will then legally be in the landlord's hands. Tenants will usually not be allowed access to the property after the lease has ended to do repairs. This also seriously inconveniences the next tenant taking occupation of the property.

If the tenant is not present at the exit inspection the landlord is permitted to do the inspection without them being present and deduct any money needed to repair damage caused by the tenant during the lease term from the tenant’s rental deposit.

Inspection reports can never be too detailed or thorough! It is in the best interests of the landlord & tenant to jointly inspect the property at the beginning & the end of the lease period to avoid future disputes over which party is liable to pay to rectify damage.