If you’re renting out your own property without a property manager, you’ll often need to run your own open inspections yourself as well.
This is a fairly straightforward process, but there are some important details it can be easy to overlook. The following guide will walk you through preparing, conducting, and following up your own rental property inspection.
We’ll assume you already have advertising already set up. If you don’t already, there are many property listing websites in Australia. Rentdesk can help you list your property on realestate.com.au and Domain for millions of Australians to see.
Field interest from prospective tenants
The most common questions are to confirm the inspection date and time. If you already have one setup, let them know what the scheduled times are, and ask them if they suit. If it works with them, great, otherwise, collect contact information and available dates in order to arrange a time.
Prospective tenants will reach out to you to about your property.
While it’s a good idea to get several people to inspect the property at a time to minimises the number of inspections, you don’t want to turn away a prospective tenant because they couldn’t make an inspection time.
Another common question is what the rental price is to be. You should be able to confirm clearly that your expectations are what was in the listing. Of course, while the final agreed rent might vary depending on actual interest, the listing should always display an accurate price expectation.
Answer difficult questions frankly
Prospective tenants won’t always ask to go straight to an inspection. Often tenants will have specific questions to determine whether they want to proceed.
The best advice is to be honest when answering these enquiries. Yes, you want to find tenants to rent the property. But misleading them about the property is a waste of time at best and criminal at worst.
In NSW, you can’t hide or give misleading information about any prescribed material facts, which is a number of items prescribed under tenancy law which tenants must be told about. A tenant can make an application to terminate the tenancy if this happens.
Something lesser like exaggerating how big rooms are, or how much storage space is available, isn’t necessarily illegal. However, those prospects might be underwhelmed during the inspection, and are unlikely to proceed any further. So, it’s best to be upfront.
Co-ordinate with existing tenants
If the property is already tenanted, you need to co-ordinate with them to arrange a suitable time, and to let them know their home will be visited by strangers.
In NSW, there are some limits to when you can perform a rental inspection with prospective tenants if the property is already tenanted.
- Notice must be given in writing.
- You can only perform the inspections during the last 14 days before the tenancy is due to end.
- You must give “reasonable notice” before the inspection.
“Reasonable notice” is a bit vague, but good practice would be at least 48 hours. This gives the tenant time to tidy and make the place presentable, or to make arrangements to store valuable items should they want to keep them secure off-site.
Remember, all notices must be in writing.
As inspections can only be conducted in the last 14 days of the tenancy, you can also give your tenant advanced warning that inspections will be occurring during that period. This should help them to be primed for any inspections that may occur, even with short notice.
It also doesn’t hurt to ask, whether the tenant might be willing to provide access outside these limits, however, they are not required to, which is why its always helpful to maintain a good relationship with your tenants.
Preparing for the inspection
The day before, send a text reminder or email to prospective tenants that have contacted before. A simple reminder can reinforce that they are welcome to the inspection.
On the day of the inspection, arrive early. If you are late to your own inspection, it can put prospects off the possibility of renting with you.
Check the location for access, particularly if its tenanted, and make sure it’s easy for people to locate the property. Set up your signage so it’s clearly visible and provides clear direction. Having a contact number printed on the signs can be a good way to ensure people can call and ask for directions if they get lost. Obviously, it is up to you to decide whether that suits your privacy concerns.
Make sure it is easy for people to locate the property
If the property is located in a place with difficult access — an apartment building, a narrow or busy street, etc. — send out instructions for the best way to access the property to prospects the day before. This will help the inspection run on time, and also endears you to the prospect for taking the extra steps for them.
During the inspection
Greet everyone in a warm and friendly manner. Get everyone’s details to ensure everyone is there who is supposed to be.
If you’re using Rentdesk, you can use the check-in feature to save the prospective tenant’s contact details and automatically send an application link.
Don’t rush while performing the inspection. Give people time to inspect the property at their pace. Locations like the bathrooms and kitchen will take longer, as these are crucial rooms in most people’s decision-making process.
If there’s a community area or separate carpark, show people these as well, as this is part of your offering.
If the property is tenanted, supervise the inspectors and ensure they are respectful of the tenant’s property. If children are present, advise the parents to keep an eye on their children and not touch anything. Showing prospective tenants that you are respectful to an existing tenant can improve a prospective tenant’s interest.
Answer all queries politely and patiently. There are no stupid questions. Even if you wrote a detailed property description and took detailed photos, don’t assume all prospects have examined everything in detail.
If you’re not using Rentdesk make sure rental application forms are available for anyone who asks.
After the rental inspection
If the property is tenanted, ensure everything is where it was at the start of the inspection. You want to leave the place as it was for your existing tenants. It’s a good opportunity to check in with them just before they are leaving. Confirm with them the last date of their tenancy, final rental payments, and ask them if there’s any feedback about the property. As they’ve been living there, they might tell you something you didn’t already know.
Follow up and re-engage with prospects a few days after the inspection. Most people would be inspecting multiple properties to assess their choices. Getting in touch can let you guage their interest in case you need another inspection, and gives prospective tenants to ask you any additional questions.
You might prioritise those that had the most interaction with at the inspection, but try to give everyone a call. The most interested person isn’t always the one with the most questions.