Most investors and Sonoma County landlords understand the importance of routine property inspections. They’re often difficult to navigate, however, because you need the cooperation of your tenants and you also need a good reason to get inside the home. California laws prohibit you from simply showing up to take a look around.
Balance the need for routine property inspections with your tenant’s need for privacy, and be respectful when you’re in the home. Once there, make the most of your visit. We’ve created a list of five things you absolutely must look for when you’re inspecting your rental property.
1. Evidence of Water and Leaks
Water will damage a Sonoma County rental property quickly. If there’s a funny drip coming from a faucet, evidence of moisture under the floors, or a slow leak beneath a bathroom sink, you want to address those things right away. It doesn’t take long for a minor water issue to become a complete plumbing disaster. You can’t leave these problems alone because damp interiors only invite mold and mildew as well as rot. Before you know it, you’ll be pulling away drywall and pulling up floorboards.
Avoid the headaches of major plumbing repairs by checking for signs of leaks or water intrusion every time you inspect.
2. Safety and Habitability Issues
Your most basic responsibility as a landlord in Sonoma County is to provide a safe and habitable home for your tenants. When you’re inspecting the property, look for any potential hazards or safety concerns. Are the smoke detectors working? Are the windows and doors locking reliably? Is there adequate exterior lighting?
Check for loose handrails, branches that may be dangling over the roof, and uneven pavement or walkways.
3. Potential Lease Violations
When you inspect, you have an opportunity to ensure the lease agreement is being followed. You may run into unauthorized tenants or pets who were not screened and approved. If the walls were painted without permission, you will have to address this with your tenants. Document any violations and put something in writing that requires your tenants to come into compliance or face potential eviction. Enforcing your lease agreement is an important part of renting out a home.
4. Deferred Maintenance
Look for maintenance issues that haven’t been reported by the tenants. Perhaps the maintenance concern doesn’t seem important to the tenants or they don’t want to bother you. Deferred and unreported maintenance can often become expensive, however, and it can also put your property’s condition at risk.
5. Sonoma County Tenant Satisfaction
Finally, you want to use the inspection time to have a conversation with the tenants. This is a great opportunity to check in and see if they’re having a pleasant rental experience. Ask if there’s anything they need or if something can be improved to make their home more comfortable. Your tenant retention plan is an important part of your investment strategy, and you need to take the time to be open and responsive to your tenants. Talk to them about how things are going.
These are only five things to look for, but there’s a lot more you can get out of your Sonoma County rental property inspections. For more information, please contact us at Prestige Real Estate & Property Management. We manage homes in Sonoma County, including Santa Rosa, Windsor, Sebastopol, Petaluma, and Rohnert Park.