As a landlord, you want to provide the best possible service to your tenants. This includes property maintenance, effective communication, fair pricing, and regular inspections. 

But how often should a landlord inspect a property? And what sort of things should you look out for during an inspection? 

It’s a tricky one. You don’t want your tenants to feel like you’re constantly checking up on them, as they’ll feel like they don’t have any privacy. But, at the same time, you don’t want them to feel like you’re not looking after the property. 

In this guide, we’ll be helping landlords figure out the ideal number of times to inspect their properties throughout the year, and what things they should be checking on in particular. Specifically, we’ll be talking about:

  • Why are property inspections important?
  • How often should a landlord inspect a property?
  • How much notice should you give a tenant before an inspection?
  • What should a landlord look for during inspections?

Why are property inspections important?

Property inspections are an important part of any tenant/landlord agreement. It gives you the chance to make sure the tenants are treating your property with respect and care, following the rules you all agreed on when they signed their lease. 

It’s also a chance for you to check the condition of the property itself, making sure it’s a safe and comfortable place for your tenants to live. Letting property standards slip over time will lead to more expenses, lower the property’s value, and dissuade the tenants from re-signing their lease. 

Finally, inspections are a perfect opportunity for you to speak to your tenants face-to-face and get to know each other as people. Building familiarity with your tenants means they’ll feel more comfortable coming to you with problems and questions, and they’ll probably feel more responsible for living in your property. 

How often should a landlord inspect a property?

This largely depends on the tenants you have, their past behaviour, and the condition of the property itself. 

Most landlords agree that, after the initial meeting, you should try and schedule one or two inspections in the very near future, about once a month. 

This will give you an idea of how well the tenants are looking after your property, but it’ll also give your tenants a chance to ask you questions that they maybe hadn’t considered when they first moved in. 

Once you’ve gotten to know them a little better, you can make a judgement call about how often to do inspections. Generally speaking, every three to six months is a good place to start. Three months for the tenants you’re unsure of, and six months for the ones you think are more trustworthy. 

How much notice should landlords give before an inspection?

Legally, you only actually need to give 24 hours notice before a property inspection but it won’t be appreciated by your tenants, so avoid short term inspections if you can. 

As we mentioned above, you should have a regular number of inspections planned throughout the year. Even then, you should message them a week beforehand to remind them you’re coming. 

If you do need to do an inspection on short notice. Phrase it like a question, rather than an order, so it doesn’t feel like you’re being too intrusive. 

For example, instead of saying, “I’ll be visiting you tomorrow for an inspection”, ask “would you mind if we popped round tomorrow for an inspection?”

They are well within their rights to say no. If that happens, ask when would be a good time for them.

What should a landlord look for during property inspections?

During the inspection itself, there are certain things that you should always be looking for. Generally, the things you need to check fall into three categories:

  • Legal safety checks
  • Overall condition
  • Health checks

Legal safety checks

It’s your responsibility as a landlord to make sure your property complies with health and safety requirements. The essential things your need to check are:

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Heating, water, and electricity supplies.
  • Fire exit routes. They should be easily accessible. 

Overall condition

Your property is a huge financial investment, there will undoubtedly be a lot of equity tied up in it, so your inspections are also about checking the condition of that investment. 

Catching signs of property damage early will prevent them from growing into large problems further down the line. The most common things you should look out for are:

  • Handrails becoming loose.
  • Furniture being damaged or worn out. 
  • Fittings and fixtures getting damaged.
  • Damage, mould, or dampness in floors, walls, and ceilings. 
  • Doors and windows become loose, stiff, or not locking properly. 

Normal wear and tear should be expected. But, if you’re supplying a lot of the fixtures and furniture yourself, you should definitely consider contents insurance for all of your properties. 

Health checks

You’ll also want to check for things that could be a risk to your tenant’s physical health, including: 

  • Blocked drains.
  • Leaky plumbing.
  • Signs of vermin, like mice and rats.

Breaches to lease conditions

Finally, you need to keep an eye out for anything that might breach the conditions of your tenant’s lease.

If the tenant has broken a rule, chances are they’ll have tried their best to cover it up, so you need to be vigilant. For example:

  • If you don’t allow pets, stay on the lookout for pet food, pet toys, and stray pet hairs. 
  • If you don’t allow smoking, pay attention to any stale smoke smells or yellow discolouration to the walls and ceiling. 

Manage your income and expenses with accounting software

Managing your accounts as a private landlord can be tricky, so you should consider downloading the Countingup app to make financial admin easier. 

Countingup is the business current account with built-in accounting software that allows you to manage all your financial data in one place. With features like automatic expense categorisation, invoicing on the go, receipt capture tools, tax estimates, and cash flow insights, you can confidently keep on top of your business finances wherever you are. 

You can also share your bookkeeping with your accountant instantly without worrying about duplication errors, data lags or inaccuracies. Find out more here.