The importance of conducting routine inspections

Hannah Williams

Routine property inspections are beneficial for both landlords and tenants. 

From a landlord’s perspective, conducting routine property inspections is essential to protect your investment. They allow you to visit the property and check that everything is in working order, there is no damage to the property and that the tenants have been keeping things reasonably clean and tidy. Tenants will also benefit from routine inspections as they can discuss any issues or maintenance concerns with their landlord. 

To safeguard your investment, our property managers follow a systematic inspection programme. Once a routine inspection has taken place, you’ll be provided with a comprehensive report highlighting any maintenance issues that may require further attention.

Why should I conduct routine property inspections?

Conducting routine inspections is paramount to ensuring the protection of your investment.

Both tenants and landlords have a degree of responsibility for keeping a rental property in good condition. Routine inspections instil a sense of accountability and ensure that you are meeting the requirements of your insurance provider.

Standard house and contents insurance policies don’t specify rental checks as a requirement for coverage. However, landlord-specific covers for things such as loss of rent and malicious, intentional or deliberate damage, do require routine inspections.

The frequency of your property inspections will be dependent on your insurance company’s policy. However, most companies require inspections every 13 weeks. Please check with your insurance provider directly to ensure you meet their requirements.

According to an AA Insurance Lifestyle Survey, 42 per cent of tenants said their landlord conducts inspections every three months or less.  A further 5 per cent said they have inspections every four-to-five months. 

During the inspection, landlords should check the condition of the property. Landlords usually look for issues such as leaks to determine if they are gradual damage.

Landlords may also use this opportunity to ensure tenants are abiding by the tenancy agreement. For example, ensuring that tenants do not have any unauthorised pets at the residence. 

Inspections provide space for tenants to bring up any issues and discuss a realistic course of action with their landlord. Making the property more enjoyable and discouraging landlords from leaving issues unresolved for extended periods of time.

Failure to address issues in a timely manner can lead to catastrophic property damage. Ultimately, unresolved maintenance issues will lead to the devaluation of your investment property.

Initial property inspection

Landlords must carry out an initial property inspection before the tenancy commences. The purpose of this inspection is to assess the current condition of the property.

Documentation of the property’s condition is vital – we recommend taking plenty of photos to keep on file. These will be useful in case any disputes arise down the track both during and after the tenancy. 

Once the inspection has taken place, the landlord and tenant should sign and keep a copy of the property inspection report for their personal records. 

After the tenancy has ended, this initial property inspection report can be used to check that the property has not been damaged.  Compare the property to what was documented in the initial report to identify if any damages were made during the tenancy.

Please note that tenants cannot be blamed for any damages that were recorded during the initial inspection.

Accessing the property for routine inspections

Landlords have the right to access the property to conduct property inspections. Provided the landlord gives adequate notice and the inspection takes place between the hours of 8am – 7pm for rental properties and 8am – 6pm for boarding houses.

Notice periods for property inspections

Before visiting the rental property, landlords must provide at least 48 hours’ notice. While it is good practice to give adequate notice, landlords cannot provide notice more than 14 days in advance. 

Landlords do not need to provide notice to access the property (the land). However, they must avoid interfering with the tenants’ quiet, peace and enjoyment. 

Do the same notice periods apply for meth test inspections?

Landlords must provide their tenants with notice before entering the property to conduct methamphetamine testing. 

48 hours notice is required for rental properties, and 24 hours for boarding houses.  Following the methamphetamine test, the landlord must provide each tenant with a written copy of the test results within seven days.

Do tenants need to be present for routine property inspections?

It is not a legal requirement for tenants to be present during inspections. However, it is best practice to ask the tenant if they’d like to be present. 

How often do I need to have property inspections?

Landlords are able to conduct inspections once every 4 weeks. Although, you may find that this frequency of inspections puts additional pressure on your tenants and is not a productive use of your time. 

The frequency of your property inspections will be dependent on your insurance company’s policy. However, most companies will generally require these to be carried out every 13 weeks.

In our experience, this timeframe is much more attainable and is generally adequate to comply with your insurance requirements, maintain the property and address any of your tenants’ concerns.

Can my landlord take photos of the property during inspections? 

Yes, when completing a property inspection landlords typically take photos as a form of documentation. However, landlords should make an effort to avoid photographing the tenants’ personal belongings. Keeping a thorough record of property inspections throughout the tenancy is useful if any matters are disputed at a later date. 

Can I refuse a property inspection?

Permitted that the landlord has provided at least 48 hours’ notice and is visiting the property between the hours of 8 am – 7 pm, they are legally allowed to access the property to conduct an inspection. 

Landlords should make an effort to approach property inspections in a respectful manner.

For example, you should propose the option of attending the inspection to your tenant, provide adequate notice, select a reasonable time and day for the inspection and encourage your tenant to provide feedback or voice their concerns. 

More guidance on property inspections is available here.

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Ray White have been looking after landlords in New Zealand for over 20 years, and we understand the importance of protecting your investment. That’s why we have created a free landlord guide to see you through.

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