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The Ins and Outs of Property Investing
As a landlord, performing a property inspection is one of the most important parts of your duty as a property owner. Inspections ensure not only that problems are promptly addressed before they become bigger headaches down the road, but they also provide a landlord with proper recourse should a tenant damage the property during the course of their lease. According to section 5(3)(j) of The Rental Housing Act, a landlord who does not conduct a property inspection at the beginning of the lease deems this to be an acknowledgement that the property is in a state of good and proper repair and thus excludes the landlord from claiming any damages against the tenant or deducting any amount from their deposit for such damages at the end of the lease. So, in short, a property inspection is like insurance for protecting your asset.
The purpose of a property inspection
A property inspection is a great way to track the condition of your property at periodic intervals throughout your ownership. The inspection is also paramount in protecting your investment from damages which will inevitably occur as people take residence at the property. At the start of a lease the inspection should accurately record the condition of the property in its current state and serves as a benchmark of what the property should be reinstated to at the end of the lease, apart from fair wear and tear. The inspection also provides an opportunity for tenants to raise any snags they might find and report these to the managing agent or landlord directly.
When to conduct inspections?
There are 3 types of inspections to consider:
- Ingoing inspection – This is conducted on the first day of the tenant’s lease before they have moved in all their belongings. This inspection is compulsory by law as per the Rental Housing Act and involves a detailed record of the interior, exterior, features and appliances at the property. This inspection should be carefully documented and signed off by both landlord and tenant.
- Interim inspections – A landlord may request to conduct interim inspections at various stages throughout the lease, however, this should be done with fair notice to the tenants in advance (usually no less than 7 days). Interim inspections provide an overview of the property condition and give an indication of how well the tenants are looking after your property.
- Outgoing inspections – As the name suggests, this inspection will take place at the end of the lease, preferably after the tenants have moved their belongings out and the property is completely vacant. Landlord and tenant can then jointly move through the property and take note of any damages observed, which can then be compared to the ingoing report from the start of their lease. At this point it pays to have a professional ingoing inspection with ample photographic evidence whereby which you can make comparisons, as a mere description can become vague in the heat of a disagreement. Outgoing inspections are compulsory by law if the landlord plans on claiming any deductions from the deposit.
A property inspection should always start at the front door, then go room to room in a clockwise manner covering floors, walls, ceilings, features and appliances. The latter includes switching on appliances and lights and taking a picture where possible to show it’s in working order. As you move through the property, take note of any snags, chips, scratches or faults that you can detect and add these to your list of snags. Once every room has been thoroughly assessed, you can move to the exterior of the home to the garage, tool sheds, pool houses, fences and gates to continue the inspection. Below is a list of often neglected areas you can add to your next inspection:
- Check for keys in all the doors and that the locks are functioning properly.
- Feel under the kitchen sink for any signs of dampness as this may indicate a leak.
- Test the water systems such as flushing toilets, taps closing tightly and geyser heating properly.
- Test any automated doors or gates with the remotes.
- Check for any signs of warping near doors if you have laminated flooring (signs of moisture).
- Take note of any signs of pest infestations (ants, cockroaches, bore worms)
- Look for cracked or chipped tiles.
- Check inside cupboards and drawers and ensure drawers are opening smoothly.
- If the property has an attic or basement, don’t forget to include this in the inspection report.
The purpose of the inspections is to protect yourself and your investment from damage and is therefore critical when deciding to rent out your property. Being the owner of a rental property does come with some inherited risks such as property damage, evictions and vacancies. One of the best ways to protect yourself against these losses is to partner with a reputable rental agency.
HouseME specializes in offering services such as professional property inspections, eviction cover and tenant screening to ensure that you get the best tenants right off the bat and that your investment is protected all along the way.
If you would like to hear more, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Simply email: Ask@house.me
Ben Shaw and Kyle Bradley are Co-founders of Proptech Company, HouseME, Winner of Seedstars World’s Best Start-Up Company in Cape Town.
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