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The importance of routine inspections

By Shannon Callanan

Routine Inspections are used to avoid problems before they become problems. No doubt you will have heard many nightmare scenarios of tenants turning beautiful homes into anything from brothels to drug labs to party houses. These inspections are vital to guarantee your tenants are doing the right thing. For Victoria, the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 clearly states that a property can be inspected every six months provided that more than 24 hours written notice has been given to the tenant. The Victorian legislation also makes a provision that allows the first inspection to be carried out only 3 months after a new tenant moves in.


Why are routine inspections critical?

Conducting routine inspections not only protects the property itself, but also ensures communication is kept open between the landlord, the tenant and the Property Manager. These inspections may also allow the tenant to advise the Property Manager of any maintenance issues that arise, which can be sighted by the Property Manager onsite. It’s important any maintenance issues are assessed by the Property Manager, as they can ensure the right trade person is engaged to get the job done effectively, lawfully and at the right price.

During routine inspections or maintenance visits, a “proactive” Property Manager will not only assess the condition the tenants are keeping of the property, but also the “overall” condition of the property.

Things they will look out for are:

– Cracked plaster in walls or ceilings (indication of possible movement)
– Mould growth
– Flooring stability (i.e. is it safe to walk on?)
– Visible water damage or water marks
– Cracked or chipped windows
– Any exposed wiring or lighting
– Gutters
– Fence lines

Two names on the lease but ten beds!

As stated in the Residential Tenancies Act 1997, a tenant under a tenancy agreement must not assign or sub-let the whole or any part of the rented premises without the landlord’s written consent. At the time of the routine inspection, the Property Manager can view and question the tenant if they are concerned there are more people residing at the property than there should be or advised on the tenancy agreement. If evidence is shown that the tenant on the lease is accepting payment for someone else to use the property, an application to VCAT can be made to have the matter heard.

The place was a mess! What now?

Unfortunately, things are not always perfect. A bad inspection is usually a matter of degree. The Act does state “the tenant must keep the rented premises clean and tidy, whilst avoiding any potential damage.” If there are just one or two small issues that need to be addressed, such as the stove top needing a wipe over or window sills cleaned, then a phone call to speak with the tenants about these items are suffice.

However if conditions are bad enough we need to conduct a follow up inspection, there is a process we need to undertake. Failure to comply with the Residential Tenancies Act 1997 can result in the Property Manager serving the tenant with a written notice for breach of duty to the landlord of the rented premises, and has the right to re-inspect the property 14 days after the notice has been given to ensure the tenant has rectified the issue.

If the follow up inspection is still not satisfactory, more formal steps are undertaken. These usually involve sending Breach of Duty notice (as they have breached a term of the lease agreement).

REPORT, REPORT, REPORT!

During the time of inspection, it is important for the Property Manager to document the condition of the property and be able to provide feedback to the landlord both written and photographs. Our inspection reports are all kept on file for future rental references.

The importance of routine inspections

By ensuring your Property Manager conducts regular inspections, and by making certain repairs and maintenance in the property are addressed and resolved as quickly as possible, it will create agreeable conditions for all parties. Regular inspections are not only essential for the value and longevity of the property, it is also vital in maintaining quality tenants.

If you have any questions about the process of how we conduct our informative routine inspections, or would like to speak with someone about your investment property, please call Shannon Callanan on 0413 050 606 who will be more than happy to assist.

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