Property Management Blog

Is It Better to Conduct Rental Inspections When Your Property is Occupied or Vacant? | Phoenix Property Management Advice

Dora Pinter - Friday, November 22, 2019


Conducting rental inspections is an important part of owning and managing an investment property. As professional Phoenix property managers, we prefer to conduct inspections when the property is vacant. However, it’s not an either/or situation. You’ll need to complete inspections when tenants are in place as well as when the property is vacant.

This depends on your reason for the inspection. During a move-in or a move-out inspection, the property should be empty. You’ll want to inspect every detail and document the home’s condition. During the course of the lease, you will want to inspect at least once to make sure the tenant is following the terms of your lease agreement.

Today, we’re talking about what to look for during each inspection, and how to make them more effective whether the property is vacant or occupied.

Move-In and Move-Out Inspections

During turnovers, you’ll need a vacant property to effectively inspect it. You want to be able to see everything, including the carpet stain that a sofa might have been covering or the torn window screens that heavy curtains were hiding.

It might seem like a good idea to get inside the home before the tenant moves out so you can get an idea of how much work will be needed before a new tenant can move in. But, this is only frustrating and disruptive to your current tenant. And, it’s rare that you’ll really be able to see everything you need to see. You might think that everything looks great, and then after the tenants move out with all their belongings, you notice that at least a month’s worth of work is necessary. That will disrupt your turnover schedule.

During your move-in and move-out inspections, check everything from the condition of the doors to whether or not the windows lock. You want to inspect walls, floors, ceilings, and appliances. Document the condition of the home with a video. Checklists are great and pictures are helpful too, but a video will show real time property conditions that cannot be disputed.

Inspecting an Occupied Property

Tenants are entitled to their privacy and the quiet enjoyment of their rental property. However, you want to get inside at least once during the lease period to ensure it’s being well-maintained. Let tenants know during the lease-signing process that you’ll be in touch after about three months to schedule this inspection. If they’re prepared for it, they won’t be surprised or suspicious that you’re stopping by. Make sure you give them plenty of notice when you’re ready to inspect.

We like the three-month mark because it allows you to quickly notice whether there are signs of abuse, neglect, or deterioration. It’s not too late to save your property and address any potential issues.

During the inspection, look for any unreported maintenance issues. Check under the sinks for leaks, make sure the electricity and outlets are working, and test toilets, tubs, and appliances. If there’s something that needs to be repaired, schedule the work right away.

You also want to check for potential lease violations. Look for signs of unauthorized residents or pets. Address anything that’s prohibited by your rental agreement, such as smoking or overgrown weeds in the yard. Make sure the home is clean and free of pests and rodents, and look for indications that the air filters are being changed regularly.

Inspecting an Occupied PropertyIf you need help planning or completing a rental inspection, please contact us at Service Star Realty. We would be happy to provide additional advice and resources.