ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why Landlords Need to Conduct Annual Apartment Inspections

Updated on September 29, 2020
Carolyn2008 profile image

As a former property manager, I conducted annual apartment inspections.

Is this clutter, a fire hazard, or both?
Is this clutter, a fire hazard, or both? | Source

Preventive Pest Control is Important

They may be cute pets in a cage, but if they get away, they are rodents infesting an apartment
They may be cute pets in a cage, but if they get away, they are rodents infesting an apartment | Source

Is Your Rented Apartment Kept in Good Order?

If you are a homeowner, and do not conduct a walk-through inspection of your rentals once a year, my advice is, you are making a mistake. To rent a vacancy, and then never go back to check on how the tenant is treating the apartment, sometimes for years, could lead to thousands of dollars lost in renovations when the tenant moves out. Performing an annual walk-through inspection of a tenant’ apartment is as necessary as collecting the rent every month.

There are rental income owners who think that once the apartment is rented, it belongs to the tenant. After the lease is signed, most landlords only care about getting the rent on time every month.

There are homeowners who believe the ideal tenant doesn’t complain. He does necessary repairs at his apartment at his own expense. He pays your rent increases without asking any questions. A quiet, rent-paying tenant is a good tenant. To that point, the landlord doesn’t want to antagonize a good tenant, insult him, raise the rent, or do anything that would cause him to move out.

There are real estate investors who buy property just for its profit. Their goal is to keep expenses down, and income up each year. The more profit, the better the investment. As long as that is the proven tenure of the property, they will continue to do as little as possible to invest in the building.

This is a tunnel-vision view of real estate investment. The major asset in rental income property is in its care and maintenance. A well-managed piece of real estate has an on-going increased value.

Why Do Annual Apartment Inspections?

Whether you have rented an apartment or a single-family home, you need to see how your property is being maintained. An annual inspection tells whether your property has increased in value, or has been decimated by vandalism, theft, or a general lack of care. If you find damages during an apartment inspection, you can make the repair(s) and charge the tenant. You don’t have to wait until your tenant moves out. The point is to see if the apartment has been abused above the amount of the security deposit amount.

Market rent homeowners and property managers should never lease an apartment, and then never see the inside again until either the tenant moves out, or there is a major problem. I believe that is irresponsible behavior. The least you should do, is an annual inspection of your property and the status of your tenant’s maintenance of your investment. At the same time, too frequent inspections, such as every 60 days, could be considered harassment.

A myriad of events and damages can happen over the course of a lease period:

  • Your tenant could move out before the end of the lease, and rent the apartment to someone else. Who is living in your property? An inspection would tell;
  • Your apartment(s) could have an unknown bed bug, insect, or rodent infestation. It could be just one apartment. But by the time you inspect all of your units, the problem could have spread to the entire building. An annual or semi-annual inspection could deal with your potential pest control costs;
  • A problem tenant can pay the rent on time every month; yet devalue the worth of your house by thousands of dollars over the term of a lease. Their failure to maintain, if not improve, the value of your house will cost you. You don’t have to wait until the tenant moves out to check for vandalism, hoarding, illegal drug use, etc.;
  • Without annual inspections, you would never know that your tenant is living in your single-family house with 30 un-caged rabbits or cats, or hoarding several years worth of garbage on the floors;
  • You need to see if the tenant is keeping up the apartment so he or she can get their security deposit back when they move out. Remember, the security deposit is not rent. It is to cover any damages made on the premises during their tenancy, over and above wear and tear on the property;
  • Squatters could have taken over the unit after the tenant left without giving you notice;
  • The lawn, which is supposed to be maintained by the tenant, is overgrown with weeds, and the grass is yellow, with bare spots.
  • Exotic pets could be living in your building. Exotic pets include pythons, deadly snakes, scorpions, monkeys, ocelots, and alligators. The danger is if an exotic pet is lost, injures its owner or a visitor, or is released in the woods near the property. Your insurance liability is potentially enormous.
  • There is a list of dangerous or aggressive dogs by your property insurance company. You believe your tenant has one of them.

What do You Check?

You aren’t going into the apartment to be nosy. You don’t check furniture, dresser drawers, or personal property. You are checking the physical maintenance and repair needs of your property. You have the right to see how your apartment is being treated after giving written advance notice of your visit. Keep a copy of your letter in the tenant’s file folder.

Some maintenance items you need to check are:

  • A working carbon monoxide detector – does the battery work?
  • Working smoke detectors – Check to see if batteries are in each of them
  • Condition of the carpet – cigarette holes, ground in dirt, lack of vacuuming?
  • Pet maintenance – Is the litter box fresh? Are there animal feces on the floor?
  • Does the unit fire extinguisher need to be serviced?
  • Are there holes in the walls, ceilings or windows and screens?
  • Inspect the condition of your stove and refrigerator
  • Check for water leaks in the bathroom and kitchen
  • Unreported repairs or damage to the apartment

If you live in California, check the law on tenant apartment inspections. Look up the California Civil Code Section 1954 http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml, or consult with an attorney. There are specific conditions in this state that a landlord must follow regarding gaining entry into a tenant’s apartment.

Whether you do it yourself or hire a management company to do it, an annual inspection of every rented apartment is the best way to know the value of your investment. You want to ensure that your property is being utilized to its highest and best use. You want to see for yourself that the apartment is not being dragged down and destroyed by vandalism, unauthorized changes to the apartment, or damage over and above natural wear and tear.

Last, and most importantly, take pictures of the condition the unit before the tenant moves in, Take annual pictures of the condition of your unit. Take pictures of the condition of your property after your tenant moves out.

Once the tenants understand that the landlord will inspect their apartment once a year, they can anticipate and prepare for it. They will also take better care of the apartment if they know they will be charged for damages, or face an unreturned security deposit at the end of the lease.

Finally, before you begin any apartment inspection, make sure your lease includes a clause that gives you the right to inspect the apartment once a year with advance notice, or to investigate and repair emergency problems immediately. If your lease doesn’t have this clause, consult your attorney to add a lease addendum.

Final Thoughts

Getting the rent on time is important. So is the condition of the property. It does no good, if you get top dollar for rent, if you have to spend it all on repairs.

Exotic Pets

Is the pet kept in a cage, or is it a "free-range" iguana?
Is the pet kept in a cage, or is it a "free-range" iguana? | Source

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Carolyn Gibson

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      Winston Rowe 

      4 years ago

      What a nice article, very informative and well written. I thought the part of good communication skills for tenant relationships was key.

    • Carolyn2008 profile imageAUTHOR

      Carolyn Gibson 

      8 years ago from Boston

      Thank you. One cannot imagine the devastation a tenant can render to an apartment in only six months after move-in.

    • LA Elsen profile image

      LA Elsen 

      8 years ago from Chicago, IL

      This is an important detail to being a landlord. Voted Up, Useful and interesting. Thanks for writing this hub.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://corp.maven.io/privacy-policy

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)