Undertaking regular inspections of your rental property can save you money, help ensure the tenant is maintaining your property as agreed, as well as going some way to building good relations with your tenants.
But, as inspections are heavily regulated, many landlords and letting agents are wary of undertaking them in case they make a legal misstep.
Here’s what you need to know about your rights regarding property inspections – and why they’re important.
Why should I undertake them?
Keeping a regular eye on your property will help you spot any issues before they come major problems. For example, a quick look around may reveal mould, damp, leaks, wear and tear or an overgrown garden. It is also a chance to check fire and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are in good working order.
While you don’t want to look like a busy-body landlord, checking in with your tenants will give you peace of mind that they are looking after the place, as well as making you look like an approachable, invested landlord – one that tenants are more likely to communicate any issues with.
Can I just turn up?
The short answer is no. The only time you are within your rights to enter with little or no notice is in the case of an emergency. This is called ‘Right of Reasonable Access’ and applies if you need to get into the property to make urgent repairs or another emergency situation.
Most inspections will be carried out under ‘The Right to Enter to Inspect the State of Repair of the Property’. This allows a landlord or agent to carry out an inspection of the property at the convenience of the tenant. You must give at least 24 hours notice – although the longer the better – and visit at a reasonable time of day.
If someone other than yourself, or a previously agreed agent, is inspecting the property, you must give notice of inspection in writing.
In both cases, you need to have the permission of the tenant to enter the property. They are within their rights to refuse and, if they do, you can’t take the issue any further.
How often should I inspect my property?
It’s a good idea to schedule quarterly inspections in order for you to keep on top of any issues. As well as helping to maintain regular contact with your tenants, a clear timetable will take the element of surprise out of inspections for tenants – having a landlord or agent poking about their home can be intimidating for them. If they know well in advance when to expect you, they are less likely to refuse you permission to enter.