The Different Types of Rental Property Inspections & What to Look For

August 1, 2021

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The Different Types of Rental Property Inspections & What to Look For

As a rental property owner or manager, one thing you do to keep your rental consistently profitable is to prevent damage by tenants. However, in trying to keep a rental home damage-free, you must be careful not to micromanage how tenants handle the property. When tenants lease your rental, they acquire the right to quiet enjoyment of the property.

That is why doing a thorough rental property inspection is vital before you hand the home over to a tenant. Rental property inspections gives you and your tenants a formal record of the physical condition of the home before the tenant moves in. They are often done in the presence of the tenant to ensure transparency and secure cooperation.

With a rental property inspection, you and your tenants reach common ground on the state of the home at the beginning of the lease. It can help you avoid disagreements later. That is because the inspection records serve as a reference both owner and renter can use to determine if the home is in a terrible condition or not.

Given the importance of rental property inspections, you should know the different ways to inspect a rental property. This knowledge will help you choose the appropriate assessment across the different phases of your relationship with tenants.

Types of rental property inspections

1.     Move-in inspection

Move-in inspections are appropriate for every new tenant at the start of the lease term. After the tenant signs the lease, the owner or their elected home inspector and the tenant do a “walk-through” of the home, following a detailed checklist. They record the condition of its various features and contents.

Written notes, photos, and videos of the different areas of the home form part of the record. This document becomes an addendum to the lease agreement. The landlord and tenant signs it to show mutual consensus.

The record serves as a dated reference of what the home looked like when the tenant moved in. But to be of any use, a move-in inspection must be highly detailed, professionally done, and record every scuff, dent, or tack hole.

2.     Quarterly inspection

A quarterly inspection is a routine assessment that coincides with seasonal maintenance. At the start of each new season, landlords should do specific maintenance tasks.

These maintenance tasks prepare the home for the challenges of the incoming season and address problems created by the last season. However, it also gives the rental operator a chance to inspect the home and make sure the tenant is abiding by the lease terms.

Given that inspections are intrusive and tenants view them as a violation of their privacy, it makes sense to schedule quarterly assessments to coincide with seasonal maintenance. Tenants already expect seasonal maintenance. Quarterly inspections give you the chance to address issues early by offering tenants helpful advice that saves you problems down the road.

3.     Drive-by inspection

A drive-by inspection is the most cursory type of rental property inspection. You are not obliged to tell a tenant before you do a drive-by assessment, and you can do them often as you want. Each time you drive past the rental, look it over from the outside for anything that seems out-of-place. Doing a drive-by inspection often and at different hours of the day can help you catch the presence of an unauthorized roommate or pets that are not allowed. 

4.     Move-out inspection

The move-out inspection happens at the end of the lease as a follow-up to the move-in inspection. In the ideal situation, a tenant will inform you after removing their belongings. The tenant and landlord (or a professional home inspector) will then inspect the rental, using the records from the move-in inspection as a guide. However, if the tenant fails to do this, you should conduct the assessment immediately after knowing that the apartment is vacant.

The move-out inspection looks at everything the move-in inspection looks at, in reverse. Its goal is to detect damage to the property that is not the result of normal wear and tear.

5.     HUD Inspections

HUD inspections expand the potential pool of tenants you can attract to your home. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has a program where it helps people who need assisted housing find homes that are decent and affordable. Since most low-income properties tend to have low standards, this program ensures only homes that meet the basic Housing Quality Standards (HQS) qualify. Other HUD protocols/standards include UPCS and NSPIRE.

When your home undergoes an inspection for compliance with this standard, your rental will have access to a larger pool of tenants. Why is this important? Due to the economic impact of the pandemic, several families now need assisted housing, and the numbers are increasing. Making sure your home meets the HUD’s standards is an opportunity you should not overlook.

Finally, we recommend using an ASHI-qualified home inspector when doing any rental property inspections (except drive-by inspections). ASHI defines the highest standards for a home inspection in the USA.