How Timely Property Maintenance Inspections Can Help Protect Your Rental Home

Published 17 August 2021 by Team :Different

As a property investor, you don’t want to spend more than you have to on repairs and routine maintenance. And one of the smartest ways to keep costs down is to get on the front foot with proactive property inspections

By regularly inspecting your property and knowing what early maintenance issues and warning signs to watch out for, you can get repairs sorted before they become big, expensive problems. 

Plus fostering open communication with your tenants is what will help you nip potential repairs issues in the bud, safeguard the condition of your rental and even keep your tenants around for the long term. 

In this blog, we’ll cover exactly how timely property inspections can save investors (like you) money, how to use routine inspections to your advantage, and how to foster open communication with your tenants.

How inspection, testing and preventive maintenance can save you money

Whether you’re working with a property manager or taking a DIY approach, keeping tabs on your rental property is what will help save you money in the long run. 

That’s because routine inspections aren’t just to check if your tenants are keeping your property clean and tidy. Instead, these inspections give you a chance to pick up any potential maintenance issues before they turn into expensive problems. 

Take this example: let’s say you notice a leaky tap in the bathroom during a routine inspection. By catching this problem early, you can book a plumber to sort it out quickly (with a minor repair costing as little as $60). But, if you didn’t spot this issue during an inspection, you could be in for a big major repair bill of up to $500. Mandy, our Maintenance Manager, backs this up by explaining.

Maintenance is a game of time management. The longer repairs take, the more irritable a tenant gets and the worse the situation gets. For tenants it's paramount to get things fixed on time, it disrupts their life if it takes too long.

And that’s not the only way you can save money by hosting regular property inspections. Illegal tenant activity can cost you hours in lost time and potentially tens of thousands of dollars in damage repair. 

But with routine inspections, you can easily identify the signs of illegal activity in your rental property and take proactive action to protect your investment property (such as calling the authority and even evicting the tenant, if required).

Plus, routine inspections help you foster open lines of communication with your tenants to keep them happy and more likely to stay put for the long term. These visits give you a chance to pick up any opportunities for preventive maintenance (such as replacing window coverings, updating appliances or refreshing light fittings).

By staying on the front foot and keeping your rental property in top condition, your tenants will be more likely to renew their lease (which reduces the chance of lost rental income due to tenant turnover and vacancy). 

How often should you be conducting routine property inspections?

While being proactive about property inspections is important, you also need to respect your tenant’s privacy, too.

That means brushing upon how often you can access your property and why by taking a peek at our guide to tenant’s rights and responsibilities.

When it comes to inspections and repairs, here’s what you need to know:

  • You can only schedule routine inspections up to four times per year, and you need to give your tenants at least seven days written notice.
  • As for non-urgent repairs, you can access your property as required, but you’ll need to give your tenants at least two day’s notice. 

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Property maintenance inspection checklist: What issues to look for

While booking in routine inspections are important, they’re only helpful if you know exactly what to look for during your visit. 

Plus, we know that every property is different, so a one-size-fits-all checklist isn’t going to take into account the maintenance needs of your particular property type.

So, what potential maintenance issues should you be watching out for during your property inspections? Let’s walk you through the most common maintenance issues to look out for in our property maintenance inspection checklist:

  • Malfunctioning smoke detectors: while we’d recommend booking a professional annual smoke alarm inspection (for as little as $129), it’s also worth checking if these alarms are working properly during your inspections (and if batteries are installed properly).
  • Mould or signs of damp: check walls, window frames, ceilings and wet rooms for moisture build up, condensation, musty odours or even visible mould patches. If you spot a problem, make sure to act swiftly and book in a professional mould cleaner to remove the problem before it spreads. 
  • Structural cracks or uneven floors: while some small cracks are inevitable, larger cracks above doorways, sagging ceilings or even flooring can indicate there's a bigger structural problem that needs to be addressed. If you spot any of these issues, make sure to call in a building inspector who will be able to resolve these structural issues before they become even bigger problems.  
  • Loose or rusting balcony rails: if you notice your balcony has loose handrails or balustrades or signs of rust, make sure to close access to the area immediately and book in a licensed builder to inspect the problem and make any repairs necessary. As an owner, it’s your responsibility to ensure these are regularly inspected and maintained to keep your tenants safe. 
  • Dry rot or timber decay: if you see damaged timber that appears dried out, crumbling or notice the smell of rotting wood, this could be a sign that your property has dry rot. If left untreated, this can cause major structural damage to your rental so make sure to book a professional to inspect the problem and treat any fungus that may be present, too.
  • Leaky taps and water pressure problems: not only are leaky taps a major frustration for your tenants, but they can also lead to moisture build up, encourage mould to grow and waste up to 20,000 litres of water per year. So, make sure to check all taps in your property and book in a plumber if your notice leaks or pressure problems.
  • Exhaust fans: if you notice your bathroom and laundry exhaust fans are leaky, dripping or leaving wet areas filled with moisture and humidity, it’s worth getting these replaced or repaired. For as little as $100 you can install a new, effective exhaust fan that will prevent costly problems (such as mould) from cropping up.
  • Signs of termite damage: if you notice your property’s doors and windows are stiff when opening or closing or your property’s wood sounds hollow when tapped, this could be a sign that termites are present. If you notice any signs of termites, make sure to book a professional termite inspection immediately as this issue can cost up to $5,000 if left untreated.

The key to getting inspection maintenance and repairs right is to come prepared and have a clear list of potential problems you’re proactively looking out for. That’s where working with a good property manager can come in handy, as they’ll be able to use their years of experience to help catch potential maintenance issues before they become costly problems.

By using this rental property maintenance inspection checklist, you can safeguard the condition of your property and retain its value for years to come.

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The importance of keeping records using an inspection report

Keeping a clear record of your property's condition starts from the moment you approve a tenant’s application. 

That initial condition report is what gives you and your tenant an agreed record of your property’s condition at the start of the tenancy. But you should also be keeping records of any maintenance or repairs issues that crop up during each tenancy, too.

During every routine inspection, you or your property manager should be documenting any maintenance issues that need attention as well as the overall condition of the property. 

In practical terms, that means:

  • Capturing detailed photos to show any repairs needed and visible wear and tear in your rental property.
  • Taking thorough notes of any areas of concerns or repairs requests that crop up during these inspections.
  • Keeping clear records of the status of repair and maintenance jobs and any maintenance problems, and ensuring you can easily access this information at any time.

The best property managers will share a detailed digital inspection report with owners after every routine inspection to give you total transparency over the condition of your rental. 

Plus, your property manager should be proactively alerting you to any repairs that need to be made and giving you real-time updates about the status and costs of any maintenance jobs needed in your property. 

Fostering open communication with your tenants

The best landlord-tenant relationships are built on open communication. The easier it is for tenants to get in touch with you, the more likely they are to report potential repairs problems quickly and efficiently.

As Wayde, our National Lead Growth Manager explains, “communication is crucial to maintenance, not just from a property manager to an owner or an owner to their property manager. But open communication between tenants and property managers means that any maintenance issue can be solved quickly because if a tenant waits until the end of the lease to bring it up, it’ll be too late.”

By having a simple way for tenants to communicate with you or your property manager, they’ll be more likely to reach out proactively when maintenance issues first crop up. 

Plus, by getting back to your tenants in a timely manner, they’ll feel confident and assured that their concerns are being sorted out (which will boost the chances of them keeping you in the loop of future repairs problems, too). 

By using a mobile app, :Different allows tenants to easily request repairs and alert their property manager to any problems (with 94% of requests processed within 12 hours). Through the mobile app for owners, :Different landlords can review and track any maintenance issues (ensuring 98% of approved jobs to be assigned to a tradie within 24 hours).

The sooner you get repairs sorted, the happier your tenants will be. By forging strong, positive relationships with your tenants, you’ll ensure your property is taken care of and even increase the chance of your tenants renewing their lease as well.

When it comes to property maintenance, timely routine inspections are what will help you lower the cost of repairs and maintenance jobs. By coming prepared with a key maintenance checklist, working with an experienced property manager and scheduling regular inspections, you’ll be sure to catch small issues before they become costly problems. The more proactive you can be when it comes to maintenance, the less you’ll need to spend in the long run.

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Disclaimer: The views, information, or opinions expressed in this blog post are for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon. We have not taken into account specific situations, facts or circumstances, and no part of this blog post constitutes personal financial, legal, or tax advice to you. You should seek tax advice from your accountant, specific to your situation.