How to do a rental inspection
Rental inspections benefit both landlords and tenants. If you are a self-managed landlord gearing up to conduct a rental inspection, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide that covers the following:
- Why do a rental inspection
- Legal requirements regarding rental inspections
- How to do a rental inspection
We’ve also created a comprehensive checklist you can use to conduct a thorough inspection when the time comes. Download this invaluable resource for free now.
Why do a rental inspection?
As a self-managed landlord, you are entitled to conduct inspections of your rental property. The purpose of a rental inspection is to check:
- The tenant is maintaining the rental property
- The tenant hasn’t breached the terms of the tenancy agreement
- If any maintenance or repairs are required
It is a legal responsibility of tenants or renters to take care of the premises and keep them clean. The wording used to describe this responsibility also varies in each state or territory.
There are subtle differences in the rental laws in each state/territory, with most about to be updated in 2020. It is critical as a self-managed landlord that you stay up-to-date with changes to rental laws, as they will directly impact how you manage your rental property.
Also, it is important to know the legal requirements and terms used to define what level of cleanliness and care of your property you can expect from your tenants.
ACT requirements for tenants to look after the rental premises
Schedule 1 of the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 on page 124 explains the following:
- The tenant must take reasonable care of the premises and keep the premises reasonably clean
- Tenant of unit to comply with owners corporation’s rules
- Tenant must make no alterations and must not add any fixtures or fittings without the consent of the lessor
- Tenant must not use the premises for illegal purposes and must not disturb the neighbours
- Tenant must not sell, dispose of, or sublet tenancy without consent of the lessor
- Tenant may be responsible for damage or other breach of tenancy agreement by visitors or guests
- Keeping animals on premises
The level of cleanliness required in the ACT is comparable to the standard of cleanliness of the rental property when the tenant moved in, same state of cleanliness. Tenants are expected to take reasonable care of the premises and their contents, keeping them reasonable clean and having regard to their condition when the tenant moved in and normal incidents of living. Which means given normal wear and tear.
NSW use of residential premises
Division 3 Occupation and use of residential premises, section 51 of the Residential Tenancies Act 2010 No. 42, indicates that a tenant must keep the rental premises in a reasonable state of cleanliness, having regard to the condition of the premises at the commencement of the tenancy.
Similar to the ACT, in NSW a tenant must not:
- Use the premises for illegal purposes
- Cause or permit a nuisance or with neighbours
- Intentionally or negligently cause damage to the rental property
- Have additional people living in the premises beyond the number of tenants specified in the agreement
QLD tenant’s use of residential premises
Chapter 3 Rights and obligations of parties for residential tenancies, Sections 184 and 188, clearly states that tenants must keep the premises and the inclusions clean, with consideration to their condition at the start of the tenancy.
Like the ACT and NSW, tenants must not:
- Maliciously damage or allow another person to damage the premises or inclusions,
- Use the premises for an illegal purpose
- Cause a nuisance by the use of the rental property
- Interfere with the reasonable peace, comfort or privacy of any neighbours
Section 192 (2) identifies additionally that a breach may relate to the number of occupants residing in the rental property and the keeping of a pet without permission.
When to do a rental inspection
How often a rental inspection can be implemented will depend on the rental laws in your state/territory. Generally, a maximum of four per year is allowed.
What time an inspection can be implemented is also specified in the legislation. Most times it is between 8 am and 8 pm and not on a Sunday or public holiday. Check with your state/territory’s rental laws.
ACT rules for scheduling routine inspections
In the ACT according to the Standard residential tenancy terms (Residential Tenancies Act 1997) page 128 as at 6 February 2020, the lessor (landlord) can inspect the premises only twice each year. Additional inspections are allowed within one (1) month of the start of the tenancy and in the last month of a tenancy.
The lessor must give the tenant one (1) week’s written notice. You must conduct the inspection at a time agreeable for both the tenant and you, being considerate of the work and other commitments of both parties.
NSW notice and right to conduct inspections
Division 4 of the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2020 No. 42 current as at 6 February 2020, section 56 states a landlord may enter the premises without the consent of the tenant after giving notice to the tenant.
Landlords must give the tenant seven (7) days notice in writing before an inspection of the residential premises. A maximum of four (4) inspections is allowed in 12 months.
QLD use entry notice (Form 9)
Chapter 3, section 192 in Part 3 Lessor’s right of entry in the QLD Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation ACT 2008 states the lessor may enter the premises to inspect the premises.
Section 193 Notice of entry, identifies that the lessor must give notice using the approved rental form, Entry notice (Form 9) and at least seven (7) days notice before entering the premises.
The inspections must be conducted at a reasonable time and should not be held on a Sunday or public holiday and before 8:00 am or after 6:00 pm, unless the tenant agrees (Section 195). They may not be implemented less than 3 months after a previous inspection. Therefore a maximum of 4 per 12 months.
Steps to conduct a rental inspection
Step 1: Notice of entry
When conducting an inspection of the rental premises, ensure you have provided the appropriate notice of entry and you have a way to record the inspection.
Step 2: Start on the right foot
If the tenant/s are home, ensure you introduce yourself or engage in friendly conversation to foster a positive relationship.
If the tenant/s are not home, ensure you leave your card on the kitchen bench. Check with legislation for your state regarding entering when the tenant isn’t home.
Step 3: Record the inspection
Using a checklist, which is dated to assist you, note the following:
- Overall cleanliness of each room/area
- Any areas of concern especially obvious damage (not wear and tear)
- Repairs that may be required.
If you don’t use a checklist, you may miss a room/area and will not have any tangible evidence as proof of a breach of the tenancy agreement. Download our handy free rental inspection checklist here.
Step 4: Document concerns and give feedback to tenant/s
Inspections are stressful for most tenants, so acknowledge the efforts made by the tenant/s to present the property neatly for the inspection.
If the tenant is home during the inspection, you should discuss any concerns with the tenant and ask permission before taking any photos of repairs needed.
Take pictures of any damage, repairs, and other concerns. Be aware you cannot use these images in any future advertisements for the property as you do not have the tenant’s permission and that is not the purpose of the photos being taken.
Step 5: Leave on a positive note
At the conclusion of the inspection, thank the tenant for their cooperation. You may want to discuss with the tenant any maintenance issues or repairs they have noticed or think may be required soon.
Leave on a positive note with the intention of maintaining a respectful and cooperative relationship with the people living in your premises.
Can I decide not to do rental inspections?
Yes. As a self-managed landlord, you can decide not to conduct rental inspections during the tenancy. The only reason you would do that is you are 100 per cent comfortable that your tenants are taking care of your rental property. Some private landlords who have, over a period of time, built up trust and a good relationship with their long-term tenants decide not to carry out regular inspections.
Long-term tenants contact the owner directly to identify repairs required and generally have an open relationship that is respectful and appropriate for the situation. Rental laws are still maintained while communication is more personal and only as required to sort out repairs.
However, inspection of the premises at the beginning and end of a tenancy to prepare the condition report as part of the bond process will still need to be implemented. Again it is important to know the requirements for condition reports and processes for commencing and ending a tenancy agreement.
Don’t forget your rental inspection checklist
When it comes to successfully undertaking a rental inspection that benefits both yourself and your tenants, diligent note-taking is vital. Download your free rental inspection checklist now.