At some stage of our lives, most of us have all rented a property. Whether it’s been your own rental, or living with friends the mad rush of cleaning and tearing your hair out to get the place ‘perfect’ is all too familiar. For those bending the rules (and yes, there’s a few) you’ll find yourself hiding dog toys in the car and dropping your furry friend to the neighbours. And between trying to look like the gold-star tenant and playing detective removing all traces of additional house mates, the whole process can be extremely stressful.
Most of this stress, however, can be easily avoided. We put ourselves through this crazy ordeal to get the tick of approval, in fear that if there’s one thing out of place we’ll be booted to the streets. With a little understanding on how rental inspections really work and what’s to be expected of you as a tenant, you can save yourself a lot of the headache. Here’s a few tips to ensure you’ll pass with flying colours.
The biggest mistake people make when it comes to rental inspections is leaving it all until the night before. Not only does this contribute to the stress of getting everything looking fabulous, but it leaves you feeling pretty damn exhausted the next day. Most times in simply comes down to organisation, but others find it easier to keep the house clean by leaving it all to the last minute.
In most cases you’ll receive at least two weeks’ notice for your inspection. This gives you plenty of time to attend to everything you need. Start doing little things as early as possible so you’re not bombarded with a list of chores to do all at once.
There’s cleaning and there’s clutter. A house can be clean, but still look messy because everything is out on display. Whilst you’ll definitely need to clean your home properly for a rental inspection – and I mean scrubbing every corner brilliantly – you can change the appearance of your house for the better by clearing out the clutter.
Use it as an excuse to kill two birds with one stone. You may be able to get rid of things you no longer need or use and in return, have a tidy home. Take advantage of storage solutions and remove as many unnecessary items on surfaces as possible, even if it’s just temporarily for the inspection. This way, your home will look much neater when the property manager first walks in.
With each rental letter outlining the inspection date, there’ll be a cleaning checklist. Take advantage of it and use it as a guide to what they will be looking for. It’s very easy to dismiss the checklist with the mindset of how hard can it be to work out what you need to clean for yourself, but you’ll be surprised at what you can miss.
The rental checklist will usually list cleaning items you don’t normally include in your own regular cleaning routine, like dusting the light fittings and scrubbing the exhaust fans. It’s important you don’t just ignore these. Pay attention to their list and create one of your own too. Whilst this checklist is for vacating a rental property, it provides some good cleaning items to consider.
Rental inspections aren’t just all bad news. Actually, they can be a blessing in disguise! Not only does it give you the opportunity to really spring clean your home, but it’s also the perfect time to speak up. Most rental checklists will also include a section to write down any maintenance requests, so make sure you list any. It’s vital you know the difference though, between what’s expected by you to fix and what is expected by the owner.
As a rule of thumb, structural issues or the building’s grounds are usually the responsible of the owner. Any damages or breakages caused by you and your flat mates will be your responsibility. For any minor repairs in the home you can fix like a blown light bulb or carpet stains, it’s best you arrange to have them replaced, fixed prior to the inspection, or cleaned by professionals. However, if there’s plumbing or electrical issues now is the best time to address these with your landlord.
If your home has a garden, it’s absolutely essential you look after it. Landscaping and gardens are a huge investment for landlords in time and money so maintenance tends to be strict. If you’re lucky, it may be included in your rental agreement that the landlord will have the lawns mowed and maintained. Whilst this will cut down some of your gardening time, it’ll still be your responsibility to weed the garden, prune bushes and keep it looking lush.
For those that do need to tackle a garden, it’s even more ideal you take note of point 1 – start early! Getting the garden up to scratch can be a good weekend job but it’s much easier to keep it under control if you do a little bit each week or two.
For almost everything, first impressions count; and it’s the same with your rental inspection too. How your home looks when the property manager first walks in can determine whether they only have a ‘quick look’, or they go to the extreme of checking every, single, detail.
If it’s your first rental inspection for the home you’re in now, you really want to go above and beyond. It’s this inspection which flags to the agent if they made the right decision or wrong one so put in a little more effort. If your front garden is well-maintained, the driveway free of weeds and the entry of your home looking almost-new, your property manager is already going to have a good impression when they walk in.
Rental inspections aren’t just stressful for you, but your pets too so make sure you keep them in mind. Most inspection letters will advise to have any pets secured so take note of this if it applies to you. If your pets are part of the lease agreement, there’s no need for you to arrange to have them taken somewhere unless they are liable to stress out. Make sure however, the home is free of fur, toys and mess cleaned up and any damage made by them is fixed.
For those tenants that don’t have their pet on the lease, it can be worthwhile asking your landlord exactly what this includes. Perhaps they have advised no pets, but they could simply mean a puppy or a kitten. An older cat may be approved or a small secured pet, providing you pay a pet bond and can give your landlord an up-to-date injection and flea and worm check. It’s not uncommon for landlords to consider changes case-by-case so if you feel that may apply to you, be honest as soon as possible. The same goes with additional house mates too – if someone has moved in to that spare room, talk to your real estate instead of trying to hide them. This will save you so much stress!
All in all, rental inspections don’t need to be an excuse too freak out. Scrub your home, clean the clutter and look after the place. Most inspections only last around 10 minutes, and all they really want to know is that the home is being loved.