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Every six months a smartly dressed woman with a clipboard arrives at my neighbour’s front door, knocking briskly before letting herself in. Another property inspection? Already? “I don’t mind!” says my neighbour. As someone who was rentvesting (owned a rental in another state while living in this rental in Melbourne), she thinks it’s good for the property’s owner that the agent is keeping an eye on things.
My rental inspections are a little more sporadic. And maybe because of this, when I do get the property inspection letter/email/text (or all three), I panic. Is it to increase the rent? Get it valued to sell? Oh, the precarious life of a renter.
Then I worry about more practical things. Should I stay or should I go? Will they notice that I’m Airbnb-ing the spare room … just kidding! Should I get out the sugar soap for the walls? Should I make a fuss about all the broken stuff?
“The purpose of the inspection is just to show the owner how their property is being maintained,” says Daniel Stocco of Thomas Quixley Real Estate.
Andy Gooden, Little Real Estate chief operating officer, agrees, saying: “Our team basically looks for all the signs that the property is being well cared for.”
Here are four tips from the experts to help you pass your inspection with flying colours:
Should I stay or go during an inspection?
Mr Gooden says there are advantages to having the tenants in when they are conducting the rental inspection: “Just for the interaction and opportunity to chat about how everything is going.”
Mr Stocco agrees, saying: “It’s sometimes really nice if the tenant’s there. You get to reconnect, say g’day. Sometimes you’ll sign the tenant up and not see them for four years. They can also point out bits of maintenance.”
What are they looking for?
“When a member of our team conducts the inspection, they’re mostly just looking to make sure there is no major damage and to record it if there is,” Mr Gooden says.
“If there’s any maintenance that a tenant reports, or we notice ourselves, we try to take a photo of it to show the owner,” Mr Stocco says. “It’s better to maintain the property gradually as opposed to ignoring repairs, having an unhappy tenant, and then all of a sudden you’re left with a list of repairs that you have to carry out.”
Do I need to tidy up?
Mr Stocco says 90 per cent of his tenants make an effort. “As soon as you walk through the door you can kind of tell,” he says.
His notices of inspection letters ask tenants to tidy up, and inform them that they’ll be taking photos.
“We send the tenant a letter explaining what we’re going through for, to ensure the beds are made, the oven and stove is clean, and things like wiping over exhaust fans. As long as they tidy the place… but we don’t expect them to clean the windows inside and out,” he adds.
Remember the inspection time and date. And be dressed.
“I send reminders, then knock, wait, knock again, let myself in, announce myself, and still I’ve walked in on completely naked people, and couples in bed…” Mr Stocco says. “I’ve had other people open the door in a pair of jocks.”
But it’s not all shock and awe.
“People have left me Lindt chocolates on the bench, with notes saying, ‘Help yourself’,” he says.
At the Little Group, Mr Gooden says many tenants go out of their way to leave gifts to surprise their property managers. “Everything from homemade brownies to vegan chocolate for one of our property managers with specific dietary requirements.”