Are you doing enough property inspections?
Alphaletz and Landlord Law are delighted to bring you guidance on undertaking property inspections. Read on for a special offer below.
Property inspections are universally unpopular!
- Tenants don’t like them as they resent the intrusion into their privacy.
- Landlords don’t like them as they feel awkward about it particularly if the tenants are hostile
However, it is incredibly important that regular property inspections are carried out. Here’s why:
1. HMO Issues
It is very easy for your tenants to convert your property into an HMO (House in Multiple Occupation) just by inviting their friends’ round to live with them.
Or by renting a room to a lodger to make a bit more cash.
Now it is understandable why your tenants might want to do this but it can get you into a lot of trouble!
- It will almost certainly put you in breach of the terms and conditions of your mortgage (if you have a mortgage)
- Likewise, it will probably put you in breach of the terms of your insurance policy and could be a reason for your insurers to refuse to pay up on a claim
- It could make you liable for obtaining an HMO license – and the Local Authority can prosecute and fine you if you are in breach!
So, this is a massive issue. Are you sure that YOUR tenants haven’t moved someone into your property without your knowledge?
2. Illegal use issues
You have probably read about cannabis farms and the damage that they can do to your property but have thought ‘this can never happen to me’. But be careful as many, many landlords have found that it can!
The cost of putting a property back to rights after it has been converted to a cannabis farm can be phenomenal – it is not unknown for the repair bill to top £80,000!
Also, in a worst-case scenario – if the police find out and consider that you have knowingly turned a ‘blind eye’ to this they could prosecute YOU along with the criminals.
The best way to prevent cannabis farming is to make it clear from the start of the tenancy that you will be carrying out regular inspections – and do them!
It’s not just the criminal cannabis farmers you want to watch out for. Many tenants, short of cash, may grow a few plants in a wardrobe or in the attic. This can be surprisingly remunerative. For example in this newspaper article, the tenant was earning £12-£16,000 pa from 32 plants grown in two bedrooms.
So when doing your inspections, make sure you poke your head into the loft space and open the wardrobe doors.
3. Repairs and other issues
You have a legal obligation to keep the property in a condition which is ‘fit for human habitation’ and also are responsible for keeping in repair the structure and exterior of the property and the installations for the supply of utilities, sanitation and space and water heating.
However, tenants frequently fail to notify landlords of repair issues, so often the only way you can find out is by going round and having a look.
It’s best to deal with repairs promptly as it will end up being cheaper in the end. And if tenants prevent you from doing repairs, they will make themselves liable for an extra costs incurred if the final repair bill is more expensive than it would have been had you done the work promptly.
It is also a good idea to visit the property regularly just to find out what is going on. For example, landlords often get told by tenants during the inspection visit that they are looking to leave – and may not tell you otherwise!
Finally – many insurance policies are now conditional upon landlords doing regular inspections. So check YOUR policy and see if this applies to you.
Doing the inspections
So having decided that regular inspection visits are important – what is the best way to do them? Well it is advisable:
- To have a standard procedure
- Forms which you take with you and complete during the visit (a clipboard is a good idea!)
- A list of things you need to do so you don’t forget them
- A note of your last visit so you can check up on things discussed and agreed at that time.
A special offer for you
If you want some help with this, the Landlord Law Property Inspection Kit, which was developed by Tessa Shepperson of Landlord Law is enormously useful.
Tessa has kindly agreed to a special 10% discount for the Alphaletz customers and blog readers which you can claim by using the coupon code A7NRTZ6B. But note that it cannot be used in conjunction with any other coupons or if there is a sale ongoing.
You can read all about the kit and buy it online here.