Landlord Property Inspections: What inspections to conduct and when

As a rental property owner, you probably had a detailed property inspection conducted when you acquired the premises. Although that inspection happened once – some DIY property managers (i.e., owner/managers), might have a false sense of understanding about the efficacy and objectives inspections. Professional property managers in Baltimore know that inspections aren’t a “one and done” thing. As your property moves through various cycles through its lifetime, property managers must implement a corresponding and ongoing cycle of property inspections.

Read on to understand the various types of inspections, and how they relate to your rental property’s life cycle.

Property Inspection Overview

The objective of any property inspection is simple: It happens so that all parties involved in any real estate transaction, be it purchase of a building or renting an apartment, see the property “as it should be”. The term “as it should be”, however, is relative to the purpose of an inspection. For instance, when a Baltimore property management company accompanies a tenant on an inspection tour prior to the tenant moving in, the objective might be for the tenant to ensure he/she/they find everything “as it should be” in accordance to Maryland state laws governing implied warranty of fitness (§ 9-14.1). The inspection also serves as a milestone to highlight to the tenant the exact state of the unit as you (owner/landlord) hand it to them for occupancy.

A property purchase transaction, however, warrants a different objective – one that’s more oriented towards potential property ownership, and not temporary rental or occupancy. In this case, you may conduct the inspection with a view to assess whether it is a worthy investment, and if everything is “as it should be” before you make an offer.

In general, however, the overriding scope and objectives of any type of inspections are to safeguard everyone’s interests. In this case, “everyone” includes all stakeholders who are party to a particular rental property lifecycle: Tenants, Landlords, Guests, Property management staff and visitors to the property.

Scope of Property Inspections

Property management companies in Baltimore typically deal with four types of property lifecycles:

  • Applying for rental housing registration with Baltimore County government – which gives landlords permission to offer their property for rent
  • New tenants rent and move into a unit on the premises
  • Tenants move out of the premises upon expiry of their rental/lease agreements (or any other reason – e.g., forceful eviction)
  • Ongoing repair and maintenance of the building

To facilitate these activities, and offer adequate protection to both tenants and landlords, requires a mechanism, by which the state of the property is objectively validated. The law, and in most instances the spirit of those laws are codified in lease agreements, provides that mechanism: Property inspections.

The scope and types of activity performed under each type of inspection also differs. Take the pre-purchase inspection as an example. If you work with a seasoned realtor or a company specializing in property management in Baltimore, they’ll likely advise an exhaustive inspection. This may include pushing inspection cameras into attics and drains, and conducting infrared sweeps behind drywalls and under concrete floors. These activities typically don’t occur during an inspection when tenants move in or out of a rental unit.

4 Types of Inspections

There are typically four types of property inspections available to service providers of rental property management in Baltimore:

  • Pre-lease property inspection
  • Pre-move-in property inspection
  • Pre-move-out property inspection
  • Ongoing property inspections

These inspections complete the entire leasing/rental lifecycle, from the time a tenant arrives, until he/she exits. These inspections also cover the additional time where tenants may not be occupying the property.

Timing Your Inspections

What inspections to conduct and when, are event-specific. A new lease event triggers pre-move-in inspection, while an exit might cause a pre-move-out inspection. Whichever type of inspection you might prepare to undertake, veteran property managers in Baltimore will always ensure they don’t encroach on a tenant’s right to privacy during the inspection. While in an emergency you, the landlord/property manager, have absolute right to enter the premises (your property) without notice, industry best practices suggest giving tenants adequate notice of entry for non-emergency inspections.

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