OK, so like, the walls are still here, so I guess things are still cool?
November 20, 2009 9:51 AM   Subscribe

What should a landlord look for during a mid-lease inspection?

I rented out my condo for the first time a few months ago and am going to check in on it next week. Is there anything I should look for beyond obvious damage? Are there any online checklists (that don't charge you to view them)?
posted by ignignokt to Home & Garden (12 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Big tip: Make sure the amount of people on the lease is correct, i.e. if one person signed, make sure their SO, best friend, or cousin isn't living there as well without being on the lease - this could quickly become a liability if someone staying there is of the more than shady variety (see: Landlord liability for criminal acts of tenants).
posted by banannafish at 10:03 AM on November 20, 2009

Ask if there have been any water leaks anywhere, no matter how minor or transient, and check for evidence of water damage.

Check the condition of the floors and carpets. If you have hardwood floors, see if they're scratching them up. If so, drop back by with some pads to put on the offending furniture.

Make sure that all of the appliances work and are being operated safely.

Check the common areas of the condo (including clubhouse, pool, game room, laundry room) and make sure they're all up to snuff.

Check for dripping faucets (especially if you pay for water).

Try your best to ensure that there are no obvious fire hazards, like curtains close to the stove or overloaded power outlets.

All of the fire exits need to be clear and accessible, meaning no furniture/air conditioners/locked doors blocking the fire escape.

See if there's any evidence of a pet that they're not supposed to have.

And, this is completely optional, but if you want extra landlord points heck to see if they have furniture and food in their pantry. If not, and you can afford it, give them a bit of a break on the rent so they can enjoy Christmas.

I had a landlord who lent my partner and I a table when she saw that we didn't have one. That kindness made a huge impact on my life.
posted by kathrineg at 10:24 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

>Ask if there have been any water leaks anywhere, no matter how minor or transient, and check for evidence of water damage.
Yes. Check the caulking around the tub, if there are any cracks in the ceiling above the tub (that might indicate leakage from upstairs), missing/loose/broken tiles around the tub, etc.
posted by philfromhavelock at 10:43 AM on November 20, 2009

Those are all great tips.

I would go on to say:
- look for evidence of mold hidden behind beds pushed against walls
- condensation on windows
- overloading of sockets or surge protectors
- bent or damaged screens
- damage that seems to be unusual or beyond normal wear and tear
- pot burns on countertops
- stuff that is broken that they don't tell you because they are afraid to for whatever reason
- bikes and other greasy/muddy items stored indoors improperly
- grease spots under cars
- traffic areas that are getting that 'beat down' look very quickly
- unusual mechanical or other gear that doesn't belong
- internal doors with a lock for which you do not have a key, changed by tenant, especially a concern if you are locked out and cannot inspect
- locks changed by tenant overall
- areas next to tubs/showers having soft feeling due to repeated water on floor
- missing or damaged caulk
- unusual paint jobs ie black in teenager's room
- shelving or paintings attached to wall
- unsafe bookcases or items stacked high up with earthquake injury potential
- evidence of frequent candle use
- smoke alarms disconnected
- ovens and/or appliances filthy or uncared for
- heaven forbid....cockroaches
- unusual or unapproved items stored in yard or in garage
Guess my two plus decades running residential apartments shows in the above list. There's more....give me a minute and I'll come up with just about every unusual scenario under the sun from evil pot grows to bordellos to schizophrenic freakout zones.
Really a lot is common sense. Look for damages that will cost you because they are unattended by the tenant like floor/carpet damage and especially water related damage, mold and mildew.
Anything that can cause loss of life needs your immediate attention, like smoke alarms, threats to the electrical system, or fire hazards like candles.
posted by diode at 10:49 AM on November 20, 2009 [1 favorite]

Check and see how full the outside trash storage is. If it's heaped full, don't renew the lease, 'cause they're slobs that only cleaned up because you were coming over.
posted by paanta at 11:04 AM on November 20, 2009

Don't think of the annual inspection as you 'checking up' on misbehaving tenants, it should primarily be about you as a good landlord keeping up with any building maintenance thats needed. Bad tenants do exist but they are in the minority.
If the tenants are there when you visit - just ask them if anything is wrong or needs fixing, also leave a one page form they can fill in to report any problems.
posted by Lanark at 11:39 AM on November 20, 2009

Thanks, guys! The water-related stuff seems especially important.

I'm reasonably sure my tenants are good and am not looking to bust 'em, but I'll try to look for as much of the stuff you guys listed as I can in the time that I have.

To clarify, I only have one unit in the condo, so common area stuff doesn't need to be checked.
posted by ignignokt at 11:55 AM on November 20, 2009

The reason for that is to make sure the condo board/association/whoever isn't ripping you off by charging you fees without maintaining the common areas, but it's not absolutely necessary.
posted by kathrineg at 12:13 PM on November 20, 2009

"If the tenants are there when you visit ..."

A landlord should not enter and inspect a rental unit without the tenants there.
posted by onshi at 1:23 PM on November 20, 2009

onshi: I'm definitely not going to bust in secretly. I've asked them permission. I'll wait until they're there if they'd prefer that.

katherineg: Aha. The board is unwise with their spending, but very likely to be on top of maintenance. I'll take a look anyway.
posted by ignignokt at 4:48 PM on November 20, 2009

I would suggest that you wait until they are there in any case -- not only to cover yourself in the event that they allege some kind of wrongdoing on your part after the fact, but also so that you can ask questions about anything you happen to notice while you are there.
posted by onshi at 5:17 PM on November 20, 2009

We stayed in a vacation-rental condo once, and the clothes dryer vent had NEVER been cleaned before. Lint was jampacked onto the removable vent which I cleaned), and also way down into that crooked air hose that vents to the outside (which I tried to clean, but ended up just reporting it to the landlord). Terrible fire hazard.
posted by CathyG at 8:34 PM on November 20, 2009

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