If you are paying a property management company then you need them to be your eyes and ears and it's extremely important that they are strict about scheduling regular inspections. Many owners don't understand how much damage a bad tenant can cause in a short period of time. There is a natural tendency to assume that as long as the rent is being paid on time and there are no complaints everything is going well.
Don't make assumptions or take anything for granted. Not only will regularly scheduled inspections allow you to catch problems quickly, it is also very effective at deterring undesirable tenant behavior.
Ask any prospective property management company the following questions about how they inspect the properties they manage:
What kind of move in inspection do they perform?
While tenant completed inspections are typical for apartments, for single family units, the manager should perform a detailed inspection which includes digital photos. The tenant should accompany the manager for a walk through and sign off on the inspection report. This kind of documentation is critical to resolve disputes over what damage took place during the tenants stay.
How often do they inspect the interior of the property? Are tenants notified before inside inspections?
They should inspect the unit at least annually, with every six months being the preferred time interval in between inspections. The person doing the inspection should have a check list that they go over which includes things like checking all appliances, locks, A/C (filters), furnace, water heater, smoke detector, electrical, plumbing and looking for lease violations.
Be wary of the management company only performing inspections in between vacancies. Tenancies can last years and there is no excuse for not inspecting the unit during that time. Of course tenants must be given notice before the inspection takes place (24/48 hrs depending on state laws).
How often do they inspect the exterior of the property?
Between monthly and quarterly is standard, although the more frequent the better. Realize that more often than not for many managers these are drive by inspections where the person doing the inspecting does not get out of their car. While this may be acceptable for more frequent visits, a full scale exterior inspection should be performed at less frequent intervals as well.
How often are inspection reports sent to you?
Ask to see a sample copy.
A management company can be operationally perfect, but if they can't attract new tenants do those skills even matter? Next we hit the nuts and bolts of what makes a management company effective in finding (and keeping) tenants.
Originally posted on managemyproperty.com under, "Property Inspections"