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Why You Should Carry Out Routine Property Inspections Here

Any competent letting agent or landlord should be doing this anyway but given that The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks has just issued guidance to landlords and their agents to carry our mid-term inspections of their rental properties

Any competent letting agent or landlord should be doing this anyway but given that The Association of Independent Inventory Clerks (AIIC) has just issued guidance to landlords and their agents to carry our mid-term inspections of their rental properties I thought now was as could a time as any to push out an article on the subject.

There are several reasons why it is advantageous to carry out inspections not just to make sure that the tenant is looking after the property, but also to see if they have any specific problems/issues they haven’t raised with you previously.

However at this time of year when condensation is most likely to cause problems, it’s a particularly good time to try and spot issues and prevent any problems escalating, especially for relatively new tenants.

Condensation causes black mould to appear, usually in the coldest parts of the house or flat, such as in bedrooms, bathrooms or the backs of cluttered cupboards/wardrobes where air can’t circulate. Condensation is usually caused by a lack of sufficient heating in the property (keeping walls and other surfaces could and below the “dew point” when air borne water condenses) and lack of adequate ventilation of steam at source.

In winter, tenants sometimes keep all the windows closed when washing, cooking and especially drying clothes on radiators. They want to economise on heating and prevent drafts, which are understandable reasons, but this should not be at the expense of damage to your property. Once mould takes a hold it is difficult and expensive to eradicate – it gets into the very fabric of the building and will always return in the future when temperatures are allowed to drop. If you spot signs of condensation it may be necessary to educate your tenants to the problem and what they can do to prevent it, for instance we issue all new tenants with a “guide to condensation” when the check in.

We often see horrific pictures in the press about terrible conditions “created by those horrible nasty landlords”, but more often than not those pictures of black mould everywhere are the result of how a tenant is living, indeed the Scottish Government and local authorities regard condensation as primarily a “lifestyle issue”, there are exceptions where its something to do with the property, but they are very rare.

It may be necessary to fit extractor fans where there is a real problem with condensation. Modern extractors are automatic, so they only operate when the humidity reaches above a certain level. Make sure the tenants’ don’t block-up the ventilators (or just turn them off), even just opening the little vents on most modern windows can have a surprisingly positive effect in managing the problem.

The ultimate solution to a bad condensation problem is a full positive-flow ventilation system but these are very expensive and certainly the port of last call in my opinion.

An inspection should also take in safety issues such as gas and electrical appliances, general cleanliness and any hazards, which might cause a fall, including outside walkways. Other issues which an inspection may reveal are: signs of unauthorised occupiers or pets, smoking in the property, unauthorised decorating and painting, insufficient cleaning and a build-up of refuse which may lead to vermin infestations.

With the changing legislative environment and the Tenant Deposit Scheme it is more important than ever to establish the condition of the property at regular intervals. Use... a documented check-list and take photo evidence.

The Mid-tenancy Inspection will usually be stated in the letting agreement, and takes place at the agreed intervals during the tenancy. This is, for example, after the first 3 months and then every 6 to 12 months thereafter.

Landlords and Agents will find these interim visits useful in deciding whether to extend a tenancy and the inspection will, with a detailed report, provide excellent evidence should you be required to show why you don’t want to extend. You want to maintain your tenant’s absolute right to “quiet enjoyment” of the property, but at the same time you as landlord (or agent) have an obligation to maintain the property in a safe and habitable condition but also to protect your investment.

You should give tenants plenty of notice of the timing of inspections, trying to fit-in with their convenient times, and giving them the option of being present. Notify them by e-mail or letter and remind them by SMS text message.

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