Making an occupied rental inspection smooth for all

Wednesday July 08 2020

Landlords should notify tenants before getting into the premises to inspect. Photo by Rachel Mabala

A colleague recently had to move from an apartment she loved simply because she could not come to terms with her landlord’s way of carrying out property inspection. She says the landlord would drop by at all times, “you never knew when he might knock on your door, which I found rather inconveniencing and inappropriate. Most times he would show up after 9pm when we have put the children to bed. His knocking and loud voice would wake them up. When I complained, he issued a new tenant agreement, which says he should be given access to his property. I refused to sign it and moved out,” she shares.
There is a fine line between being a concerned landlord and a nosy intruder. How often can a landlord inspect a property? Unfortunately, there is no specific number of times property owners should be given access, there are however guidelines on how it should be done.
Steven Kambugo, a property manager, says the tenant should be informed of the visit and given a time period between 24-48 hours to allow access. “What some landlords forget is that even if they own the rental unit, it is the home of your tenant and it should be treated as such. Your tenants have a right to privacy which can be violated by unscheduled visits,” he notes.

In addition, tenants should be informed of the purpose of the inspection. Sometimes property owners carry out inspection for specific purposes such as repairing the plumbing or checking out the structural integrity of the property and sometimes it is just general.
“If a property is occupied, the inspection should ideally be beneficial to both parties so let the tenant know what you want to find out, so they are able to make the necessary arrangements. It is unprofessional and inconveniencing for property owner or manager to just show up with contractors or inspectors for an inspection. This can be a huge disruption to a renter who considers your property their home,” Kambugo remarks.
Regular rental inspection is good and benefits both the tenant and property owner. Nicholas Ssebagala, a property developer, says it enables one to detect and arrest problems before they turn into major problems, which save the tenant and property owner time, money and inconvenience.
“In an ideal world, a tenant would notify the landlord of anything that needs attention, but they do not. So an inspection is the way we appraise our investment and find ways to keep it in perfect condition. It also allows us to budget for what needs to be done in the near future such as repainting, replacing tiles or any other major renovations that are deemed necessary,” Ssebagala shares.

Tenant’s presence
Ssebagala says he always insists the tenant be present when the inspection is going so he can get a chance to meet and relate with them. “I like to personally get to know my tenants, which has helped me establish good relationships with them. A tenant feels invested in a property and will take good care of it if they have a good relationship with the owner. Also, I get to learn a lot of useful information from these interactions that help me make better decisions regarding those properties,” says the property owner.

RENTAL inspection

The primary purpose of inspecting a property falls under two categories: protecting the property investment and ensuring resident health and safety.
Is the tenant keeping the property clean?
Is there any damage or excessive wear and tear that needs repair?
Is the property being used for the wrong purposes? For example, if your tenant claims the property is being used for residential purposes but you find a dance floor and a bar that might tell you something.
● Move-in inspection
● Move-out inspection (which may include a pre-move-out inspection)
● Maintenance and safety
● Routine home inspections (yearly, seasonally, or quarterly)
● Safety inspection (smoke alarms, check/fill fire extinguishers)
● Pest control and infestations

There may be other reasons a landlord may enter a property for non-inspection purposes such as a natural disaster, or an extended tenant absence.