What to keep in mind for rental inspections.
Once you have rented your property out to tenants, one of the most stress-free ways to make sure they are adhering to the rules set out in your tenancy agreement and your property is in good condition is to schedule regular property inspections.
Property inspections should be carried out at the start of a tenancy, when a tenancy ends and at periodic intervals during the tenancy. While your tenant may be quiet and pay the rent on time, it’s still advisable to regularly inspect the property so you can ensure there are no serious problems.
Carry out periodic property inspections
The main purpose of a property inspection is to assess the overall condition of your rental property. While we advise you to book regular inspections, it’s important that you do not book too many inspections as unnecessary visits could affect your good relationship with tenants.
Periodic inspections are essential for three reasons:
- Highlighting repairs that are needed
- Checking on the general wear and tear of the property
- Ensuring that the tenants are taking good care of the property
Give your tenant notice before the inspection
As much as you may like to inspect your property whenever you like, it’s necessary to give your tenants notice before calling around, otherwise, you may breach the rights of your tenant stated in the NSW Residential Tenancies Act 2010.
Landlords must give tenants 24 hours’ written notice of entry before inspecting the rental property unless the tenant has signed a long-term lease, in this case, landlords must give tenants 14 days’ written notice before entering the property.
Landlords are permitted to carry out the rental inspection between 8:00 am and 8:00 pm on any day excluding Sundays and public holidays. If the tenant is at home during the inspection, they are only obligated to let the landlord into the building if the appropriate notice has been given or an agreement has been reached between both parties.
There are some circumstances in which a landlord may enter the property without the consent of the tenant. These circumstances are:
- To undertake urgent repairs
- In a case of emergency
- If the landlord is concerned for the welfare of any person in the property and has made a reasonable attempt to obtain consent
- If the landlord has reason to believe that the tenant has abandoned the property
Follow the guidelines stated in the tenancy agreement
In addition to the NSW rights of landlords to enter the premises, the landlord must also follow the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement along with the NSW’s tenancy laws.
The tenancy agreement that you or your letting agent signed with your tenant, is a binding contract for both you and the tenant. Most property agreements will include information stating the circumstances in which you can gain access to the property that you are renting.
Mandatory property inspection checklist
Not every tenant sticks to their tenancy agreement. Bad tenants often ignore the fact you banned smoking on the premises or have acquired a pet since they moved in. A property inspection is your opportunity to find any breaches that go against the tenancy agreement and take action against the tenant.
Health and safety
Landlords are responsible for providing a safe environment for tenants to live in. During the inspection, landlords should thoroughly inspect the property to ensure the building is legally compliant and a safe place for tenants to live.
Some essential items to look out for include:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Signs of mould
- Fire escape routes are not blocked
- Water, heating and electricity supplies are working
- Signs of vermin or infestations
If you see signs that your tenant is subletting against the tenancy agreement, such as extra mattresses, pillows or a room that is locked off, you have legal grounds to start eviction proceedings against your tenant.
Landlords must follow a specific legal process to evict tenants depending on the terms outlined in the tenancy agreement regarding subletting. This process generally involves serving your tenant with a written notice to vacate the property within a certain timeframe.
During the property inspection, landlords should look out for signs that a tenant is conducting illegal activity in or around the rental property, such as using or selling drugs.
Landlords who ignore illegal activity could put their property at risk if the tenant is arrested or if the situation escalates. If the landlord notices signs of suspicious activity or has been notified of complaints of illegal activity from neighbours, it is his responsibility to report it to the police and proceed with an eviction notice.
Having a strict screening process can help eliminate potential problem tenants before the tenancy agreement is signed.
General wear and tear
Landlords are responsible for maintaining the rental property, but there is a certain amount of wear and tear that should be expected to occur as the years go on and excludes tenants’ negligence of the premises.
Examples of normal wear and tear might include:
- Worn carpets
- Faded curtains
- Dirty grout
- Minor scuffs and scrapes
- Dings in a wood floor
- Loose door handles
How to resolve a tenancy dispute when the tenant refuses access for a rental inspection?
If you have made a reasonable attempt to receive permission to enter your property and carry out an inspection but your tenant is not cooperating, you should take legal advice before attempting to enter the property.
If the dispute is not able to be resolved, you can apply online to have the matter heard by the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT).