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How Often Should Rental Landlords Do Property Inspections?

Should Landlords Do Property Inspections At All?

The answer to whether or not to do property walk-thru inspections is, “Absolutely yes!”

How in the world is a rental property owner to know the condition of their property unless they do regular inspections?

How will they know if the tenants comply with the lease unless they do regular inspections?

How will you know if your tenant is taking care of your property and has earned the privilege of a lease renewal unless you are doing regular inspections?

You cannot know the answers to any of these questions unless your properties undergo regular walk-thru inspections.

How Often Should Inspections Be Done?

If doing inspections is the “science,” then determining the optimal frequency is the “art” of the process of property evaluation walk-thru inspections.

To illustrate the point, here’s an extreme parameter for you to consider. Do you think you’d get buy-in from tenants if you insisted on daily inspections? Do you think such a lease requirement would ever hold up in court?

If you were to attempt such an intrusive inspection schedule, even if you somehow got a tenant to sign off on it, I suspect that you’d sooner than later have a riot on your hands, not to mention that you’d likely (justifiably) be sued for harassment, and lose.

On the other hand, do you think doing inspections every two-years makes good sense? Would a two-year inspection cycle do much to help you ensure a well-maintained property, safe and habitable living conditions, and lease compliance by the tenants? Probably not.

Thoughts From a 30-yr Real Estate Veteran

Let’s think this through. Why have inspections? Isn’t it to help ensure lease compliance? Isn’t it to help “nip in the bud” early-stage, minor maintenance issues before they become late-stage, major maintenance issues? What time frame might reasonably address these concerns?

After many years in the property management and leasing trenches, I’ve formed an opinion:

  1. Once yearly inspections are not enough.
  2. Quarterly inspections (4x per year) are too much.
  3. Semi-annual (twice yearly) inspections are just right.

All sorts of mayhem can ensue if you wait a whole year between inspections. Tenant compliance issues can get way out of hand, and significant damage can set in over an entire twelve months. On the other hand, inspections every ninety days are probably overkill, as tenants come to resent the regular intrusions, unnecessary time and expense are allocated for inspections, and the twin goals of lease-compliance and efficient-maintenance are only marginally furthered.

I’ve come to believe that the “Goldilocks Zone” for inspections — not too hot, and not too cold — is the twice yearly, semi-annual inspection. Tenants seem to raise little issue with inspections every six months, and they are close enough together to keep things from getting far out of hand between inspections.

We conduct semi-annual inspections on all of the properties we manage throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties because we feel such a schedule offers the optimal balance between tenant compliance and maintenance optimization. Learn more landlord tips by downloading our free guide, “Landlord 101” by clicking the link below.

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