One of the main things required of you as a tenant is to pay your rent in full and on time every month, but the other important responsibility you have is to keep the property in good, clean working order throughout the duration of your tenancy. The conditions of this will be outlined in your lease agreement and a good agent should encourage you to read the lease in detail and ask any questions, on the day you collect the keys and sign the lease for the property. As a tenant its crucial to understand what your rights and obligations are – especially when it comes to repairs.
Most tenancies come with a standard lease agreement so the expectations of you as a tenant are reasonably straightforward and maintaining the property should be relatively easy. Your landlord and/or real estate agent has the right to do a routine inspection of your home once every 6 months during your tenancy, with between 24 hours and 7 days advance notice given to you of their intention to inspect. This varies from state to state, but will be detailed in your lease agreement.
So now that you know how often you might get inspected, you should consider what you need to do to have a seamless property inspection and continue to enjoy your tenancy in the property. Again, your responsibilities will be outlined in the lease agreement so when you receive notification from the property manager that an inspection will be taking place, have a read through the lease first and then you can make yourself a list of things you need to pay attention to before the inspection. You can also email the property manager to ask what specific things they might be looking for at the inspection to help you to prepare (it’s always good to email rather than call so you have a record of your communications). If you can’t be present at the inspection but have concerns relating to maintenance or use of certain appliances, leave a note for the property manager on the kitchen bench, for example, where it can be clearly seen.
A good tenant keeps their rental property clean and tidy throughout their entire tenancy, not just in preparation for the periodic inspection. The purpose of an inspection is to ensure your home is being maintained in the same condition as you received it, and this is determined by comparing the ingoing Condition Report to the current condition. Your agency will compare and review the state and condition of areas such as windows, walls, floor coverings, light fittings, kitchen cabinets, sinks and appliances, bathroom fittings, exhaust fans, drains, the exterior including pools, patios and gardens for example. It’s also recommended that you clear away any dishes, clothing, towels or clutter that could affect the inspection.
As well as the ongoing care of your property, the inspection gives your property manager the chance to check that you haven’t breached any of the clauses of your the tenancy agreement. If your property manager finds a contradiction of the tenancy agreement, you will be notified by the agency and, in some cases, your property manager will need to come back for a subsequent inspection to ensure the outstanding matter has been resolved.
If it’s your first inspection with that agent however, they will (or should) pay closer attention. This might mean they will check for things like mould and whether you have been cleaning exhaust fans in the bathroom, and the range hood over the stove. They may check the carpet for stains, if the windows have been recently cleaned and they will definitely check gardens or outdoor areas to see that they are being taken care of. As well as the ongoing care of the property the inspection will also give the agent the chance to see if you are breaking any of the clauses of your agreement. Your lease will have specifically outlined whether or not you can put hooks into the walls to hang pictures, whether you can have pets, and who the tenants are that are living in the property. These are often the things people get caught out on in inspections. If there is no request for permission to put hooks up or have a pet, or move in extra tenants you may find yourself with some issues regarding your tenancy.
It’s easy to forget the way some people live can negatively affect a landlord’s property. Lack of ventilation can become a major concern so it’s very important you open windows as regularly as possible to let fresh air circulate. Exhaust fans in kitchens, bathrooms and laundries should always be free from lint and cobwebs otherwise this can encourage mould to form, which is the last thing you or your property manager want. Infrequent vacuuming of carpets and flooring can lead to severe health issues as debris including pollutants, hair and skin particles can get trapped within carpets fibres and accumulate. Maintaining clean carpets and flooring means they will last longer and that keeps everyone happy.
As a tenant, the best strategy is to read your lease thoroughly when you move in, know what you have to ask permission for, and what you are responsible for. Keep a record of any maintenance requests you have made in writing to your property manager, and note the dates of the inspections you have had so far. Property managers are usually pretty friendly and they want to keep good tenants in the property for its owners.
The following advice is of a general nature only and intended as a broad guide. The advice should not be regarded as legal, financial or real estate advice. You should make your own inquiries and obtain independent professional advice tailored to your specific circumstances before making any legal, financial or real estate decisions.
Lane Erickson (2018). Checklist of Options from Excellent to Poor. [image] Available at: https://www.123rf.com/photo_7622560_checklist-of-options-from-excellent-to-poor.html [Accessed 25 Nov. 2018].