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  • Sharon Kelley

How to Choose a Home Inspector for Your Rental Property

Home inspections are an integral part of what you need to operate a rental property successfully. You will need to perform a home inspection at various stages in your ownership and relationship with tenants. These inspections help you minimize friction with incoming or outgoing tenants, manage the home most cost-effectively, and ensure that the house is habitable.

The four types of inspection you need to do periodically to keep a rental property in the best condition are:

  1. Move-in inspections

Move-in inspection documents the physical condition of the home before a tenant moves into it. It must cover every aspect of the house and note even the minutest problems found in the home. Move-in inspections are conducted in the tenant’s presence to ensure the tenant agrees with the records of what t

he landlord says the house looked like before handing over the property to the tenant.

2. Move-out inspections

Move-out inspections occur at the end of the tenancy. It examines the home to record the impact the tenant has had on it. It is as thorough as the move-in inspection. Property owners compare records created by the move-out assessment to the records from the move-in inspections. Based on the difference between the two, they decide whether to withhold or return the security deposit paid by the tenant.

3. Routine inspections

These inspections are done every 3-6 months (recommended) as part of the landlords’ program for keeping the property in good shape. The focus of the inspection is to identify safety, sanitation issues, and damage to the property. These may be problems resulting from the tenant’s use of the home, issues created by the landlord, or the result of natural wear and tear.

4. Drive-by inspections

Drive-by inspections are the least tasking of the inspections landlords can do. As the name suggests, you can do them from your car. Every time you drive past the home, observe the property to see if anything is out of place. You can do this without leaving the vehicle or entering the premises. Unlike the other three inspections, drive-by inspections can be done any time and as often as you please.

How to get the most from your home inspections

Except for the last one (drive-by inspections), hire experts to conduct all of your home inspections. Having an expert to handle your home inspections will ensure that:

  • You are well-prepared if you ever find yourself in court with a tenant. You will have professional records - created by a neutral third party - to back any claims you make.

  • Your property is always in the best state of repair because the home inspector will detect the slightest issues with the home long before they have a chance to become major problems.

  • You can keep your property maintenance costs down because you will be doing preventive rather than corrective maintenance. As a result,

  • You will be able to attract quality tenants to the property and also charge higher rents.

The inspector you choose for your home inspections is an ally for the success of your rental property business. Their level of competence plays a vital role in the effectiveness of your home inspection routine, plus the overall cost of running the business. This is why you should be intentional when choosing a home inspector. What are the things to look for in a home inspector?

Choosing the right home inspector for your rental property

A. General home inspections experience

Experience matters because home inspectors can only learn certain things from years of dealing with different tenants. It is also good if they have more experience with home inspections in your locality.

B. Experience in the building industry

Although you are not erecting a building, a home inspector with experience in the building industry is an advantage. That is because, without such a background, there are things about the structures and systems of a home that they will find hard to understand.

C. Memberships and affiliations

An inspector who is a respected member of the local chapter of a recognized professional body for home inspectors is best. Not only will they follow the standards and guidelines of their organization, but they are also more accountable.

D. Their method of operation

How long do their inspections typically last, and will you be allowed to accompany them during inspections? Will they be available at short notice, or do you need to give a few days notice? Can you see a sample of their inspection reports?

E. The contract

Request a sample of the agreement they give to their clients. Are the terms of the contact explicit, with roles and responsibilities spelled out? How will you be charged (flat rate or hourly), and will there be additional charges? What are your options in case there is a dispute with the inspector? Does the contract contain exit clauses for both parties?

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