While landlords will rest easy knowing their property is being well cared for, tenants have the opportunity to raise any maintenance issues and ensure these are dealt with in a timely manner.
Regular inspections are also a requirement of insurance companies offering landlord insurance, without which landlords can find that their cover has lapsed.
Home inspections help ensure the tenancy agreement is being followed
Rental properties must legally be kept in a reasonable state of repair.
Both tenants and landlords have responsibilities for keeping the property in a good condition, and there may be additional responsibilities that have been written into tenancy agreements.
Regular home inspections ensure tenants and landlords alike are adhering to the terms of the rental agreement.
During routine inspections, the landlord or their property manager can check the state of the property and ensure no alterations have been made outside the terms of the contract.
This is also a time when tenants can raise any issues they may have, such as a landlords following through on organising lawn mowing contractors or garden maintenance if this had been agreed to in the contract.
Property maintenance issues can be highlighted and dealt with
Regular checks ensure tenants have ample opportunity to bring property maintenance issues to the attention of their landlord.
Dealing with maintenance issues in a timely manner is of benefit to both landlord and tenant: for the comfort of the tenant and for the good of the rental property.
If maintenance issues are ignored they are likely to worsen, becoming larger and more expensive to deal with and ultimately depreciating the value of your property.
Landlords and tenants have the right to issue a 14-day notice to remedy damage if the other party has been asked to fix something but they haven’t.
If either party does not comply with the notice to remedy, the affected party can apply to the Tenancy Tribunal for help. If damage is substantial, landlords can apply directly to the tribunal without serving the 14-day notice.
Home inspections help ensure insurance compliance
Landlords must ensure their property is insured and they have the correct cover for a rental property.
Most insurance providers require landlords to inspect the property regularly as a term of the insurance policy.
To be compliant, inspections must be well documented. Record the date of your inspection and include notes and property inspection photos.
This is one area where having a professional property manager is a huge bonus. The property manager will manage the whole process, ensuring all the correct documentation is kept.
Inspections may help ensure Healthy Home Standards are maintained
Another bonus of regular inspections is landlords can ensure their property is maintained at the correct legal standard for the Healthy Homes regulations.
If regular checks are not made and potential issues are not brought to the attention of the landlord, it is possible the rental property may fall below the legal standards for Healthy Homes.
Regular checks give landlords a chance to assess potential problem areas and ensure tenants are living in warm, comfortable, compliant homes.
Even if the property has already met the required Healthy Home Standards, ensuring it stays at standard is the responsibility of the landlord.
How often can a landlord inspect a property?
Legally, landlords can conduct inspections every 30 days, but in practice this is likely to be an unnecessary stress on tenants.
Three-monthly or six-monthly inspections are more reasonable and should be perfectly adequate to cover insurance requirements and meet both the landlord’s and the tenant’s needs. Always be mindful of a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of their property.
Routine inspections should only take around 30 minutes to complete. At a minimum, landlords must give 48 hours’ notice before an inspection, and at the most, two weeks’ notice.
While landlords and property managers are allowed to take photos, try to avoid including the tenant’s personal items in these photographs.
What about apartments in body corporates?
Regular inspections are also needed for apartments within body corporates, as inspections will be required under the body corporate insurance policy. A body corporate has a statutory duty to maintain insurance cover.
How to retain good tenants
Crockers says finding good tenants is the best way to keep a rental property in good condition.
Most tenants place a high value on warmth and comfort in a well-maintained home.
To keep them happy there are several things landlords can do.
Allow tenants to make minor alterations
From 11 February 2021, landlords have been legally obligated to allow tenants to make minor changes to their rental properties. However, landlords are able to set reasonable conditions.
Tenants should be able to feel that their rental property is their home, which these minor changes allow. Examples of acceptable minor changes include:
- Changing curtains;
- Hanging up pictures;
- Securing bookshelves to walls to manage earthquake risk.
Before any changes are made, tenants must:
- Make the request in writing to the landlord;
- Receive the landlord’s permission before making the minor change. The landlord must respond within 21 days, but a landlord can ask to extend this timeframe;
- Pay the installation costs (unless the landlord agrees to pay for the alteration);
- Remove the fitting at the end of the tenancy (unless the landlord agrees it can stay);
- Return the property to substantially the same condition it was in before the minor change was made.
Consider allowing pets
Tenants with pets often have more trouble finding suitable rental properties meaning they often stay longer once they find a property that allows their furry friends. Landlords can charge a little more weekly rent to cover any extra wear and tear caused by pets.
Keep in touch
A good landlord will occasionally touch base with their tenants to ensure everything is going well with the tenancy.
Landlords should treat tenants with respect at all times and ensure they follow the letter of the law. If you follow all the relevant tenancy, health and safety and related laws your tenant should have nothing to complain about.