7 June 2015
Set a good foundation for a tenancy – start with the condition report
As Property Managers it is essential that we maintain accurate records. One of the most critical is the Ingoing Inspection. This inspection sets the foundation for the remainder of the tenancy. We rely on this inspection at the end of the tenancy, so it is vitally important that we get this right from the beginning, even when the tenant is sprouting those immortal words that we are all so familiar; “It was better when I move out than what it was when I moved in”. Initial inspections poorly done can contribute to the property deteriorating as tenancies change over the years impairing the capital growth of the property for the Landlord.
To complete your inspection the property needs to be empty, cleaned, gardens mown & tided. The way in which a property is presented to the new tenant is how you can expect it returned. Ensure you can keys for all locks both doors & window locks and all remotes or security swipes for the property.
We always take a photocopy of the keys provided to a tenant at lease commencement, this will include any remotes or security devices too. But at the inspection take note of any window lock keys left at the premises, note lock numbers on the keys, make & number.
Ensure you check, wherever possible, the operation of an appliance i.e. test smoke alarm, ensure the a/c turns on & cools/heats, ovens switch on, hot water gets hot. Record make, model, serial numbers for all appliances - take a photo of all appliances including the model/serial number panels for easy reference. New SA Legislation states that written instructions need to be provided for all appliances at a rented property. For newer properties this can be as easy as photocopy appliance manuals but always leave the originals in your file or better still return the originals to the landlord for safe keeping. For older properties where manuals can't be easily sourced online the instructions can be written instructions by someone familiar with the appliance. We would encourage landlords to prepare these instructions.
With a furnished property I would request a detailed list from the owner of what they believe to be at the property including brands. I would then go thru the property and complete my own list and ensure that the two match taking care to make clear descriptions of colour, brand, number etc so that a reasonable person reading your notes could understand. Resolve any anomalies with the owner immediately before the tenancy commences.
Description and Details
Throughout your report you need to ensure that you include ample details. Clearly indicate any pre-existing damage i.e. size of any scuffs on walls, stains on carpet. Use items for size indications - as simple as a pen or car key for scale can help. When describing any item ensure you list the cleanliness, general condition and working status. Photos are a great way of recording without misinterpretation of the state of a property, you cannot have too many photos of the property!
The report needs to be given to the tenant at the commencement of the lease. You need to ensure that the tenant understands that they have the option to write any note son the inspection sheets if they feel your assessment isn't accurate or they disagree with your assessment. Make their notes on the report and return this to the agent/owner writing 14 days of lease commencement. A tenant shouldn't be given access to the property before they are in possession of the condition report. have the tenant sign off, acknowledging receipt of the report and any other documents they receive, this can be done simply on the tenancy agreement.
Diarise or use an automated contact system to follow up the tenant within 14 days after lease commencement for their returned, signed report and make comparisons to the report completed by you. Promptly follow up if there are any discrepancies and address any repairs and maintenance reported. Where a tenant has made large amounts of significant changes to the report a site meeting may be necessary to resolve discrepancies, better to do this at commencement instead of at the end of lease arguing over a bond refund.
To make this process easier there are a great range of inspection aps available in the market today. Many of these integrate with your property management software making accurate, easy to read notes many including photographs integrated into the report simple. Photographs can even be date & time stamped for ease in a dispute. If you're not already using an app you should definitely consider them, they can save hours of your time from re-typing hand written reports.
Our aim as property managers is to protect our Landlords interests and provide good service to tenants. A professionally prepared Condition Report will protect both the Landlord and the Tenant against unreasonable claims for cleaning and or property damage at the end of the lease. This means less stress for a property manager