Real Estate

rental property inspections

4 Types of Rental Property Inspections

When you own or manage a rental property, keeping it in good shape is incredibly important. Not only will this help you attract and retain good tenants, but it will also protect your investment. Rental property inspections are a critical part of maintaining your property.

There are four primary types of rental property inspections: move-in, move-out, routine, and drive-by. Read on to learn more about these different inspection types and what you should focus on with each.

What Are Rental Property Inspections? 

Before we dive into the different types of rental property inspections, let’s talk some about what they are. A rental property inspection is your opportunity to look over your property and make sure it’s being kept in good shape. You’ll be able to find out about any maintenance needs that should be addressed, as well as any damage that’s been done to the property.

Although we’ll focus on inspections from the landlord’s side in this article, your tenants also have a right to rental property inspections. In particular, these inspections will take place at the time they move in to make sure there aren’t any problems with the property. You may need to be present during these initial inspections so both of you can confirm any problems that do crop up. 

1. Move-In Inspections

As you might guess from the name, a move-in inspection happens just before a new tenant moves in. Oftentimes, this may be an inspection you conduct with the tenant. This inspection gives you both a chance to make sure there isn’t any pre-existing damage or problems at the start of the new tenancy.

During a move-in inspection, make sure any damage you spotted during the previous move-out inspection has been fixed. Check that all major systems, including kitchen appliances, are in good working order. It’s also a good idea to check that all doors and windows are functioning properly before your new tenant moves in.

2. Move-Out Inspections

Move-out inspections take place when a tenant moves out and are meant to assess any damage that happened during that tenant’s stay. This inspection should be done as close to the tenant moving out as possible so you have time to make any repairs before your new tenant moves in. This inspection will also determine how much of their security deposit your previous tenant gets back.

During a move-out inspection, you should be keeping an eye out for any damage the tenant may have caused. Check the floors for scratches or stains, and look for dents or holes in the walls. Make sure all appliances are still working, make sure doors and windows are still in good shape, and check for any broken light fixtures or other fixtures.

3. Routine Inspections

Routine inspections take place during your tenant’s stay and are more focused on maintenance than specific damage. You can keep an eye out for damage and breaches in the lease, but this shouldn’t be the primary focus of the inspection. Instead, these inspections are your opportunity to make sure all major systems in the property are in good condition. 

During a routine inspection, check for any water damage on ceilings or walls. You should also talk to the tenant about how the HVAC and water heater are performing. Check the function of the fridge and freezer, make sure the dishwasher works, and look for any leaks under the sinks.

This can also be a good opportunity to make sure your tenants don’t have any complaints about the property. 

4. Drive-By Inspections

Drive-by inspections are the quickest and most convenient of the four inspections you’ll perform. These inspections just involve driving by the house to make sure everything on the outside looks good. They are focused on maintenance, rather than property damage or lease breaches.

During a drive-by inspection, you’ll want to pay attention to any maintenance that needs to happen on the outside of the house or apartment. Keep an eye out for any sagging gutters, disconnected downspouts, ripped screens, or cracked sidewalks. It’s also a good idea to make sure the grass is staying mowed and the bushes and trees are well-trimmed.

Dos and Don’ts of Inspections

There are a few best practices it’s a good idea to follow during a rental property inspection. First of all, be sure to give your tenants written notice before you do routine inspections. Send this notice at least twenty-four hours before the inspection is set to happen, and encourage them to be present during the inspection.

If you do notice breaches of the lease during your drive-by or routine inspections, don’t confront your residents about them on the spot. Instead, remain calm and professional and handle the issue through official channels later on. Also avoid taking pictures of personal items during these inspections, including décor and pets.

Learn More About Rental Property Inspections

Rental property inspections are an important tool for keeping your property in good condition. Move-in and move-out inspections ensure there isn’t any damage to the property, while routine and drive-by inspections alert you to any maintenance needs. Make sure you give your tenants plenty of notice before a routine inspection occurs.

If you’d like to learn more about rental property inspections, check out the rest of our site at RentSafe. We are the tenant screening platform that gets vacancies filled faster. Check out our property manager solutions today and start screening tenants the easy way. 

homeowners associations

7 Things to Know About Homeowners Associations (HOA)

When you start shopping for houses, one of the first things you’re going to run into is neighborhoods that are managed by homeowners associations. HOAs can be a great way to keep property values high, and they can offer some fantastic perks. But they can also place some serious restrictions on neighborhoods and what you can do with your property.

Before you buy a home, it’s a good idea to see what you can expect from the HOA there. Read on to learn more about your KWS Homeowners Association HOA and what questions you should ask before you buy.

1. Fees Can Vary

One of the most important things to know about HOAs before you buy a house is that fees can vary wildly. In some cases, HOA fees will depend on the overall geographical region you’re buying the house in. In other cases, these fees can vary depending on the specific neighborhood you’re buying in.

In general, HOA fees are somewhere between $200 and $300 per month. However, those costs could range from less than $100 a month to more than $1,000 in the most expensive areas. You need to account for these costs when planning the budget for your home.

2. Amenities Vary

Given how widely HOA fees can range, it should come as no surprise that the amenities you get with those fees can vary, too. Of course, the most expensive HOAs are going to provide you the most amenities as part of the contract. The less you pay, the fewer benefits you’re going to get from the organization. 

Some of the more expensive HOAs may offer a public pool, tennis courts, a clubhouse, security, and even some lawn maintenance services. Lower-cost HOAs may only regulate property décor to keep property values in line.

Make sure to read the bylaws closely to see what your KWS Homeowners Association HOA covers.

3. There May Be Additional Fees

Once you’ve paid your HOA dues, you may think your financial obligation to the organization is done. After all, your HOA fees are designed to cover all services and amenities the organization provides, right?

But depending on how your HOA is organized, you may have to pay other, less routine fees when maintenance needs come up.

Some HOAs keep monthly fees low by relying on a smaller cash reserve to meet their routine expenses. However, this means that when HOA-related maintenance or repairs arise, you may have to pay for part of these costs. It’s a good idea to clarify before you buy the house which setup your HOA will use. 

4. Covenants Matter 

Of course, one of the biggest parts of living in an HOA is following the covenant guidelines. As with the fees and the amenities, covenant rules can vary widely among associations. Some HOAs may be more lenient in their guidelines, while others may be more particular than you’re willing to deal with.

It’s important to read the HOA covenant before you buy a house in that neighborhood. As we’ll discuss in a moment, sanctions can be serious business, and you don’t want to find yourself on the wrong side of your HOA.

If you read the covenant ahead of time, you’ll know what to expect and will be able to decide if those guidelines will work for you.

5. Sanctions Are Serious

If you fail to follow the covenant guidelines for your HOA, there will be consequences. At first, you may get verbal or written warnings, or you could be formally written up. If you continue to refuse to comply with the rules, you could wind up getting fined or sanctioned by the HOA. 

If you refuse to pay your dues or fines, some HOAs have the ability to place a lien on your home. Some organizations can even foreclose on your house if you refuse to follow their guidelines or pay your dues. Make sure you know what the consequences will be if you fail to follow HOA rules, and how long it will take for those consequences to kick in.

6. You May Share Insurance Responsibilities

Depending on what sort of housing development you’re buying in, you might share insurance responsibilities with your HOA. This is particularly common in condos and other living spaces that have shared public areas, including gyms and swimming pools.

In general, HOAs cover the insurance responsibilities for these areas and may be responsible for part of your property. 

Some HOAs offer additional insurance coverage on your property as an incentive to buy within that development. Make sure to look at your HOA bylaws and see if any such incentives apply in that development.

It’s also a good idea to see where the boundaries on their insured responsibilities stop, so you don’t wind up paying out of pocket for something that isn’t covered by either party. 

7. Reputation Counts

When you’re shopping for a home within HOA developments, it’s important to look at the HOA’s reputation. While many HOAs are managed by residents in the community, some developments hire out these responsibilities to professional HOA companies. These companies may not have the neighborhood’s best interests at heart or may not handle their responsibilities well.

If possible, talk to a resident of the neighborhood you’re looking at and ask how they feel about the HOA. Do they have problems with overly nitpicky regulations and heavy-handed sanctions? Or do they feel the HOA does a good job of maintaining strong amenities for the community and keeping property values high? 

Learn More About Homeowners Associations

Homeowners associations can be a great way to keep communities thriving and include more amenities in a neighborhood. But it’s also a good idea to know what you’re getting into before you buy, especially if you’re considering renting the property out.

Read the HOA bylaws and covenants, ask about fees, and talk to current residents about how well the HOA does its job. 

If you’d like to learn more about your KWS Homeowners Association HOA, check out the rest of our site at Rent Safe. We’re a new online tenant screening platform custom-designed by property managers for peace of mind.

Contact us today and discover tenant screening that has never been more organized, transparent, or easier.

maintain your rental property

How To Maintain Your Rental Property Like a Boss

Since 36.6% of Americans are currently renting their home, property managers have their pick of the litter when it comes to tenants. They also need to be on top of rental maintenance to ensure that tenants have a clean and safe place to live.

If you’re a landlord looking to maintain your rental property the right way, there are a few things that you’ll need to do. Read on to learn how you can keep your buildings in awesome shape with tenant screening, communication, top-notch contractors, and more.

Get (and Keep) the Right Tenants

The first way to best maintain your rental property is to get the right tenants. Dirty and messy people will ruin your property in the blink of an eye. So will those with a history of indoor smoking.

Make sure that you use top-notch tenant screening software to ensure that you’re choosing the right tenants. This technology will let you see whether someone has a prior history of eviction due to an untidy lifestyle or damaging past properties in some way.

You also want to make sure that tenants are polite and respectful to neighbors. Having a lot of complaints will cost you good tenants.

Finally, screening tenants will let you find people who will always pay the rent on time. This is important because rent checks often funnel back into property maintenance. If you have tenants skimping out, you’ll struggle to come up with the funds to keep your property in top shape.

Respond to Maintenance Requests Promptly

You likely have multiple properties and don’t get to see all of them on a daily basis. This is completely normal, but it also means that you won’t know when something is wrong until a tenant reaches out. It’s important to have a clear, easy-to-use website where tenants can put in maintenance requests for you to see.

There are some requests that you’ll need to respond to instantly:

  • Crumbling stairs leading up to the property
  • Sagging roofs and caving ceilings
  • Mold growth within the property
  • Large water leaks and burst pipes
  • Clogged drains that could lead to leaks or turned-off water
  • Strange smells coming from appliances or heaters
  • Major pest infestations
  • Anything else that could pose a safety risk

However, other requests may seem more benign:

  • Appliances that aren’t working (refrigerators, ovens, etc)
  • Neighbors smoking in the apartment
  • Minor problems with harmless pests
  • Dripping faucets
  • Water not being hot enough/being too hot
  • Peeling paint
  • Dirty/ripped carpeting

While it might be tempting to put off maintenance requests that fall into the latter category, don’t. These small problems can lead to bigger issues down the line. They won’t just upset good tenants but can also eventually lead to property damage.

Sign On the Right Contractors

Landlords have several daily responsibilities, but fulfilling maintenance requests aren’t one of them. Responding to them is your job, but this entails sending out a contractor to resolve the issues. You’ll have previously signed on with a plumber, mason, or HVAC professional that will go out and help tenants.

Make sure that you’ve hired reputable and capable contractors. You don’t want someone to respond to a maintenance request only to incorrectly fulfill it. This will further frustrate your best tenants and drive them away.

Poorly trained or vetted contractors may also make the damage worse. If you have an inexperienced mason try to repair steps, for example, you might wind up making them more dangerous.

This doesn’t just decrease your property value but also is unsafe. You could find yourself with a personal injury lawsuit. To avoid this problem, be careful about who you trust with your property.

Proactively Replace Older Appliances

To prevent appliances from breaking while tenants are using them, it’s a good idea to replace them frequently. A good rule of thumb is to replace household appliances every 5 years if you aren’t sure of their lifespan.

However, many fixtures do have longer lifespans than 5 years. Some include:

  • Refrigerators (10-12 years)
  • Stoves and ovens (10-15 years)
  • Dishwashers (10-13 years)
  • Washers and dryers (10 years)

Make sure to check on all of these appliances after a decade passes. If they’re looking even remotely worn-down, invest in a replacement. This will keep your property in top shape.

Replace Roofing, Siding, and Flooring Regularly

You also will want to proactively replace roofing, siding, flooring, and other foundational features. This is even more important than getting new appliances before they expire. Foundational issues can pose a safety risk to tenants.

Here’s when to invest in replacement features:

  • Roofing (every 25-50 years, but usually closer to 25)
  • Siding (every 15-40 years depending on the material)
  • Hardwood flooring (every 25-30 years)

If a property has concrete or wooden steps leading up to it, you will want to have the stairs checked out every 2-3 years. They may begin to crumble, crack, rot, or warp depending on the material. About one in five falls causes a serious injury, so it’s best to err on the side of caution.

Maintain Your Rental Property the Right Way

While it can be challenging to maintain your rental property in the best possible way, it’s totally possible with the right tools and knowledge. Now that you know some of the best tips for property managers, it’s time to start finding tenants that will let you keep your property in top shape.

Our experts are committed to offering the best screening platform and software for landlords. That’s why we’re excited to discuss your individual property’s needs ASAP. Contact Rent Safe today to discuss your tenant screening process needs with our experts!

The 6 Best Cities to Have Rental Properties in 2022

6 Best Cities to Invest in Rental Property in 2022

In order to build substantial wealth, you need to invest your money. Although it’s entirely possible to invest in stocks, investing in real estate can offer an exponential return.

Before you get started, though, you’ll need to know which cities are best when looking to invest in a rental property in 2022. Not quite sure about the best cities to invest in real estate?

Let’s take a look at some of the most notable.

1. Chicago, Illinois

Chicago is one of the largest housing markets in the United States.

It’s also home to hundreds of major companies, giving the city a notably strong foundation for its economy. Chicago is also known for its diversity in terms of housing prices.

Regardless of your budget, you should be able to find something that is within your price range. For those who are looking for a specific region of the city to invest in, the neighborhoods near the downtown area are often ideal. As the downtown segment of the city expands, surrounding houses will experience a sharp increase in value.

It’s also worth noting that this is one of the best locations for short-term rentals. As one of the major tourist attractions in the United States, Chicago is a place where many people vacation for food, culture, and sports.

2. Washington, D.C.

It’s no secret that the pandemic caused housing prices across the entire country to spike. Washington D.C. was one of the regions that experienced the largest increase in home value. Although the market has recently cooled off, this doesn’t mean that home prices will begin to fall.

It simply means that the continued growth will be slowed. As one of the most unique areas of the country, this city will continue to attract investors in the future. This will inevitably drive housing prices (and, therefore, rent prices) even higher, making it highly recommended that you act quickly if you’re looking to get involved in this market.

As with many other areas of the country, the construction of new housing often cannot keep up with the demand.

3. Detroit, Michigan

People tend to have the wrong idea of Detroit.

Some investors forego this option entirely due to the misguided belief that the entire city is just a landscape of impoverished neighborhoods. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Like all major cities, Detroit does have areas that need improvement. It also has billions of dollars in funding actively being ported into the construction of new housing. The prices of homes in this area are also notably low compared to many other regions in the United States.

Since the value of all real estate will increase long-term, this is a great way to find an entrance into the market, even if you plan to be a long-distance landlord.

Austin, Texas: One of the best cities to have rental properties in 2022

4. Austin, Texas

For those who are unaware, the city is poised to become one of the major tech capitals within the United States.

More specifically, heavy hitters like Dell Technologies and Oracle are laying the foundation for similar firms to plant their roots. Given enough time, it wouldn’t be unlikely for Austin to rival Silicon Valley in terms of productivity and opportunity.

Since this scenario is still at least a few years away, now is the ideal time to invest. It’s also important to consider that the University of Texas is one of the most popular colleges in the entire country. Combined with its remarkable art/music scene, it isn’t difficult to see why people are flocking to the city.

5. Los Angeles, California

This answer shouldn’t come as a surprise. Los Angeles, California will always be one of the largest entertainment capitals in the entire world.

Due to the sheer volume of people who live in Los Angeles, it’s one of the best places to invest in real estate. You also have a diverse range of rental property options to choose from given how diverse the city is.

Although the prices in Los Angeles are much higher than in other areas of the country, so is the general cost of housing. This means that you can charge a substantial amount in rental payments each month and shouldn’t encounter any issues when looking for good tenants. Under the right circumstances, you could even end up receiving exponentially more in rental payments compared to the cost of your mortgage.

6. Boise, Idaho

For some, this might seem like an interesting suggestion when it comes to rental property options. However, Boise is one of the most notable capitals for housing and universities that you can choose from in the country. The relaxed atmosphere of the city has established an easy-going lifestyle that many people travel across the US to experience.

In turn, this has caused the prices of local homes to skyrocket. As you might assume, this creates an ideal scenario for investors who are looking to generate a substantial return on their financial contribution. Like the other cities on this list, Boise currently has a shortage of supply when it comes to housing.

This means that prices will continue to climb for the foreseeable future.

Knowing Where to Invest in a Rental Property Is Crucial

Investing is a fickle path to navigate without the proper resources at your disposal, Be sure to consider this guide when looking to invest in a rental property within the United States. It can be the driving factor that determines if your investment delivers on sound financial returns.

Want to learn more about what we have to offer? Contact RentSafe today to discuss your tenant screening process needs.

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