Best Rental Property Inspection Checklist to Use in 2024

Property Management
Published on:
February 26, 2024
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When managing a rental property either pre-tenant move-in, during the term of their lease, or post-move-out, it is critical to develop a set of health, safety, and maintenance standards to create peace of mind for property managers and landlords.

The last thing you want is to find out that your property was damaged by your tenants and you could have easily prevented this by following a simple rental property inspection checklist.

If this has happened to you already, don’t worry.

In this post we will cover how to avoid this issue, what your inspection checklist needs to cover, and how to use digital tools to make the experience of managing your rental units more seamless than ever before.

Both property managers of large residential buildings with multiple tenants and landlords managing 1-2 units can benefit from using rental property inspection checklists.

Even a small rental unit contains certain legal obligations which both the tenant and landlord sign during the lease agreement phase.

Creating a historical audit record of inspection checks can ensure that tenants remain satisfied with their rental unit after move-in day, and managers are protected from any unforeseen damages and oversight.

Let’s dive right in and get your rental property inspection process locked and loaded.

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What is a Rental Property Inspection Checklist?

When you go to the doctor for your yearly physical examination, your doctor will conduct a routine step-by-step evaluation and series of checks to ensure you are healthy and humming.

The same goes for any rental property – landlords & property managers leverage a series of steps and procedures to ensure all aspects of your rental property are thoroughly checked and accounted for. 

When we talk about rental property inspection checklists, we are categorizing these checklists into 3 distinct categories (based on the tenant lifecycle):

  1. Documenting the rental unit / property’s condition before the tenant moves-in
  • Routine Quarterly Rental Property Inspection Checklist
  1. Documenting any changes during the tenant’s lease term and holding your tenants accountable
  2. Commonly used proactively (to keep on a pulse on your property investment) and reactively (after any major repairs, property investments, or recent events)
  • Post-Tenant Move-Out Inspection Checklist
  1. Document any issues that can be directly attributed to the previous tenant on the DAY OF move-out.
  2. Ensure cleaning and hygiene procedures are followed
  • One-Off Scenarios (depending on rental property type, size, and lease agreement dynamics):
  1. Garbage and Waste Removal Inspection Checklist
  2. Prevent tenants from leaving large furniture and appliances in your property rental (a common issue that the next tenant has to deal with!!!)
  • Equipment-Specific Maintenance Inspection Checklists 
  1. HVAC Systems Inspection Checklist
  2. Security & Safety Systems Inspection Checklist
  3. Electrical Systems Inspection Checklist
  • Lead Paint, Hazards, and Tenant Safety Checklist
  1. Depending on the year your rental property was built, and the age of your tenants, certain safety inspection checks may need to be conducted pre-tenant move-in and on a routine basis.
  2. Exterior / Backyard / Frontyard Lawn Maintenance Inspection Checklist
  3. Move-in/Move-Out Cleaning & Sanitization Checklists
  4. If a Landlord or Tenant is responsible for cleaning the unit before they move-out, use this checklist to document proper sanitization before the next tenant moves in.

The Importance of a Rental Property Inspection Checklist

When was the last time the HVAC filter was replaced in the unit?

Do you have a legal obligation to ensure proper air quality for your tenants?

Have your pipes and faucets been recently checked to prevent a potential flooding event? If you don’t know the answers to these questions, it may make sense to keep reading this article…

While it may be more cost effective in the short term to avoid maintaining certain areas of your rental units, this could have dire implications on your investment in the long term.

One unexpected pipe-burst or HVAC damages could lead to a massive swing in your cost basis.

Treating your HVAC system due to black mold, having to replace a damaged Washer/Dryer unit, or dealing with a bathroom flood could take years to recover your cost in terms of future rental payments. By implementing a rental property inspection checklist, you can ensure that routine checks are in place to prevent issues from snowballing into massive cash outflow events. 

Whether the issues are driven due to the natural life cycle of assets or equipment present in the unit, or directly caused by tenants that have deliberately damaged your property, a routine rental property inspection checklist will provide the necessary steps to identify who or what caused the problem.

Eliminate the arguments and back-and-forth between you and your tenants once and for all!

This will not only save you a lot of money in the long run, but also give your tenants peace of mind that the property they are occupying is in line with their state or local health and safety standards. 

Every state has certain laws and regulations in place to protect tenants from landlords & property managers that act irresponsibly.

Don’t be one of them! Hypothetically speaking, you could be hit with a lawsuit if you violate terms of your lease agreement. For example, if you are required to replace HVAC air filters every month or quarter and fail to do so, your tenant could claim that you breached the lease agreement as the landlord / rental property owner. 

Check your State and Local Laws! - Customize your Rental Inspection Checklist Accordingly

State and local governing bodies outline tenant rights and safety laws to abide by. While certain governing bodies provide online guides to help dictate what rules should be followed, it is important to consult legal counsel for what you, as a property manager/owner, could be held liable for.

For example, in New York, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal outlines Tenant Protection Unit Information and Landlord and Tenant Information.

The Department of Health also outlines what is considered a Healthy Home and certain health issues to prevent like Lead Poisoning.

Check your local regulations as well, as these guidelines will inform what your rental property inspection checklist will need to include.

For example, the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development contains information on Housing Maintenance Codes and Tenant Rights & Responsibilities

Finally, it's important to customize your rental inspection checklist based on national & federal guidelines including resources from organizations like the National Fair Housing Alliance and the National Apartment Association. These contain helpful guides especially for first-time owners.

Key Takeaways:

  1. Prevent minor hiccups from becoming bigger issues with massive cash outlays
  2. Preserve the value of your rental property investment
  3. Comply with local, state, and federal health and safety regulations
  4. Legal protection: Generate digital audit trails for both parties to ensure adherence to key terms outlined in tenant lease agreements.
  5. Prevent tenants from moving out prematurely due to landlord violations.
  6. Maintain high-standards for your property and create repeat business: Your tenants will notice the difference in your practices versus their previous landlords and property managers. Creating the best experience for tenants will incentivize them to renew their lease and hopefully treat your property like their own.

Key Components of a Rental Property Inspection Checklist

As you can tell, your rental property inspection checklist needs to be customizable and tailored to your own unique rental property requirements PLUS specific state, local, and federal health and safety regulations.

The right rental property inspection checklist will break out key areas of the property into various sections and allow you to capture images and notes to document passing areas and important safety concerns that should be addressed in the near-term vs. long term. 

Here is what we recommend your Rental Property Inspection Checklist should cover

  • Flooring: Inspect for any signs of damage, wear and tear, or safety hazards such as loose tiles, torn carpeting, or warped floorboards. Ensure all flooring surfaces are stable and in good condition to prevent slips, trips, and falls.
  • Standard Heating & Cooling / Air Quality: Check the functionality of heating and cooling systems to ensure proper operation and adequate temperature control.
  • Broken Cabinets, Doors, Shelves: Assess the condition of cabinets, doors, and shelves throughout the property. Look for any signs of damage, such as broken hinges, loose handles, or malfunctioning drawers, and address repairs or replacements as needed.
  • Kitchen Appliance Checks: Test all kitchen appliances, including stove/oven, refrigerator, dishwasher, and microwave, to ensure they are in proper working order.
  • Bathroom: Inspect fixtures, such as sinks, toilets, showers, and bathtubs, for leaks, cracks, or other damage. Ensure that all plumbing fixtures are functioning correctly, including drains and faucets, and address any issues promptly to prevent water damage or plumbing emergencies.
  • Exterior Walls: Evaluate the condition of exterior walls for signs of damage, such as cracks, holes, or peeling paint. Check for any areas of water infiltration or structural issues that may compromise the integrity of the building envelope.
  • Garage / Basement / Plumbing: Inspect areas such as the garage, basement, or utility rooms for plumbing leaks, water damage, or pest infestations. Check water heaters, sump pumps, and other utility systems for proper functioning and address any maintenance needs to prevent potential hazards.
  • Lawn / Yard Care (if applicable): Assess the condition of the lawn, landscaping, and outdoor areas. Look for overgrown vegetation, debris accumulation, or any safety hazards such as uneven pathways or tripping hazards.
  • Image Capture: Enforce Inspector and/or Tenant to capture photos of the interior / exterior of the property with timestamps & digital proof points & records.
  • Signature: get Inspector and/or Tenant to sign-off that the inspection has been completed, along with Date & Time of each recorded checklist step response.

How to Conduct a Rental Property Inspection Checklist?

While you can certainly conduct an inspection checklist using a paper-based checklist on a clipboard, or an Excel file / PDF printout, the process of routinely documenting inspections can become frustrating without the assistance of a Mobile or Tablet App.

Especially when time stamped information can be so critical to a future tenant dispute or legal battle, utilizing a rental property inspection software tool can be extremely valuable and time-saving.

No more manually attaching images of your rental property to an Excel spreadsheet.

No more jotting down notes on separate sheets of paper. With a rental property inspection software tool, you can centralize all of your property inspection data and images and create a secure digital record of historical activity and reported issues across your rental property investments.

Who Uses a Rental Property Inspection Checklist?

5 Best Rental Property Inspection Software In 2024

Primary Users

  1. Multi-Unit Property Managers: centralize inspections across multiple units, buildings, and sites. Conduct routine and one-off inspections in-unit, on premises, exterior, and more.
  2. Single & Multi-Unit Landlords: manage pre- and post-arrival inspection checks to ensure adherence to lease terms by both parties.
  3. Owners of Condo Rentals & Single Family Homes: Prevent unforeseen costs from hitting your wallets and create more predictable profit / income streams.

Secondary Users

  1. Maintenance Technicians: manage resolution of repairs after an inspection is conducted and issues are reported.

Tertiary Users

  1. Tenants: view reports and outcomes from a rental property inspection to ensure they are living in a safe, clean, and healthy environment.

Best Rental Property Inspection Checklist: Free Template

Download this rental property inspection checklist template now to get started creating your own inspections checklist!

This template includes some of the most common checklist items rental property owners & managers utilize throughout the tenant lifecycle. You can download and edit the template to suit your specific needs, and if you’re using Xenia, you can instantly start using your checklist to track inspections across your rental property on-the-go. Download your free checklist template here.

Xenia: Mobile-First Rental Property Inspection Software

Let’s talk about Xenia! It's like the go-to app for rental property inspections these days.

With its user-friendly interface and robust features tailored to property managers and inspectors, Xenia revolutionizes the management of rental properties on both a monthly and contract-end basis. 

Our innovative mobile-based inspection management software simplifies and streamlines the inspection process for all stakeholders involved. But what sets Xenia apart from the competition? 

The answer is quite simple: its comprehensive suite of tools and capabilities is designed to address a wide range of concerns that may arise with rental properties, from minor maintenance issues to major repairs. 

By centralizing tasks such as work orders, property inspection checklists, and standard operating procedures, Xenia provides frontline managers and teams with a seamless digital solution for property management and maintenance. 

Moreover, Xenia's highly configurable environment empowers users to track on-site operations in real time, access full asset work histories, and analyze the status of pending tasks versus completed work. 

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