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Periodic Interior Inspections of Your Atlanta Rental Property

Todd Ortscheid - Friday, June 29, 2018


Video Transcript

Hi, Todd Ortscheid, CEO of GTL Real Estate, talking this week about interior inspections of your rental property, and this goes beyond just move in and move out inspections. We'll talk about that in a different video. This is talking about the periodic inspections. The inspections while the tenant is in the property. We do these on different time schedules depending on what the landlord prefers. So, our standard schedule is we do this about ninety days before a lease expires. So, that's the default that's in your management agreement unless you've signed up for optional inspections to do that more often. 

Sometimes some of our clients like to do inspections more often than that. We generally only recommend it no more than twice year. We can go to three times a year, if you absolutely want to, but we generally recommend not doing it more than twice, just to make sure that your tenant doesn't feel that it's an intrusion of their privacy. As we always talk about in these videos, it's always important to make sure the tenant is happy so they renew their lease because that's the best way to keep your costs down. So, we generally don't recommend doing more than twice a year just because some tenants don't really care for that. They think it's too intrusive, but two times a year is reasonable. So, if you'd like to do that, if you'd like to upgrade just let us know. 

For most of you, you are on the once a year plan which is fine. That does give us good opportunity to check out the condition of the property, not too long before the lease is renewed, or the if the tenant is going to be vacating it gives us a good idea of the condition of the property ahead of time so we know what it looks like before they vacate. And that also gives us the opportunity to let that tenant know, here are the items that you need to take care of before you move out in order for you to get your security deposit back, which encourages them to get those items taken care of. So, that is our default. 

About three months prior to move out we do that inspection. Now like I said, if you do other inspections, six months or whatever, we also do those. But, the way we do these inspections no matter what schedule you're on, is we use a third party inspection company, and that's all they do is rental property inspections to be specific. They don't do new home inspections. They don't do inspections for house sales. All they specialize in is rental property inspections, and that's really the reason that we use them is because this is their bread and butter. This is what they know inside and out and they have a perfect process put together for this. A whole lot of management companies are going to this kind of model and the reason we did is because we just found the inspection to be far superior to anything that we saw any management company doing including us. 

When we were doing them ourselves, we did a lot more than most management companies did. We did quarterly drive by inspections as well as the move in and the move outs and we were doing interior inspections when owners requested them. But it still, even when we bought special software for it, we could never get the quality of that inspection to the same level that a company that does nothing but rental property inspections does. So, that's the reason we went to that company, and there's several other advantages to that, that I kind of wanted to go over to talk about why it's best to use that third party inspector. 

In addition to the quality of the inspection, let's say there a situation on move out where the tenant claims that they were charged for something that it wasn't fair for them to be charged for. That it was damaged, that was normal wear and tear for example. Now if we have a third party inspection that was done right before they moved out by this professional inspection vendor, we can always take that to that tenant and say here's a report, this is an independent unbiased third party. They put on the top of this report that this is a major item to look at, this is a damage to the property and that's how the inspection company does it. 

On the first few pages of the report, they have the items that are damaged. So, you can go right to that and see it very easily. So, we can show that to that tenant and say this isn't our judgment, this isn't the landlord's judgment, this is the judgment of a professional inspector. So, it really short circuits a lot of those disputes. So, it never gets to a court case. It never gets to a formal dispute. They look at that report and they say, alright, there's a third party professional who's determined this, so there's probably not much I can do to fight this. 

Now if it does get to court, you know let's say it does get to that point, tenant files a lawsuit, they get really mad over being charged for something on move out, and we have to go to court to defend it, then we have that inspection report that we can turn in to the judge and say here's our evidence. And since it's coming from a third party and a professional inspection vendor, and not just us, which the judge might look at us as biased because we're representing you as the landlord, then that carries a lot more weight. 

The judge will look at that and say not only does the landlord think this, not only does their property management company think this charge is justified, but this third party who has no vested interest, they're just getting paid to perform the inspection no matter what the outcome of the inspection is, they say that this charge is legit, that carries a lot of weight. But, even if that itself isn't enough, the inspection isn't enough, the inspection vendor, the actual person who did the inspection will show up in court to assist us. They will actually give testimony and talk about their inspection on the witness stand. So, that really carries a lot of weight. When the actual inspector is there, and can be examined, and cross examined, and questioned by the judge, that means everything. So, that's a very key part of having the third party inspector. 

Another advantage is that the inspector actually carries certain things with them on their truck. So, they have pretty much every filter size for your air conditioning system they've got stocked on the truck. They've got batteries for your smoke detectors, door stops, smoke detectors, CO2 detectors, all that stuff is carried on the truck. So, if they get to the property, and they're doing an inspection, and they find that there's two bad smoke detectors, they can replace those right then and there, and that really reduces your liability. Let's say that we did an inspection, we found two bad smoke detectors and we had to send a service request out to a vendor to come fix that, to replace those. And let's say it took that vendor a week, and let's say there was a fire in that intervening week, that's liability not just for us, but also for the landlord. So, by getting that done immediately right when the inspector is there, that's a big risk reduction, and it's just good service for the tenant too. So, they're not having multiple people show up at the property in order to get something done. 

Now checking those HVAC filters saves you money also. Because if that filter is dirty when they get there and they check it, they'll change it, and then they'll charge the tenant to reimburse you for that cost and replacing those filters saves you money in the long term on your HVAC system. It'll usually add a few years to the longevity of your system. So, that's also an added benefit they're making sure those filters are changed by that tenant. 

Now of course there is a a charge for this. The inspection company has to make some money. So, the inspection costs generally about a hundred dollars. It can vary somewhat depending on the location of the property, if it's really far out in a rural area they might add fifteen, twenty dollars to that just for a trip fee, but for most of you it's about a hundred dollars. So, it's not a very expensive item. It's well worth it especially just once a year. In return for that you're getting a fifty page report with about a hundred pictures. It's very detailed, it's not just photos, it's also descriptions of any items that they found that were a problem. They're checking for the presence of pets and they make notation of that on the report. It's just a very detailed report that you'll receive for a very low price. 

So, we think it's well worth it. Since we've been doing this for about a year now, we've spoken to a lot of you and we've gotten very good feedback on it. We've had I believe only about three or four landlords decided to opt out after seeing the quality of the report and that's out of four hundred and something. So, obviously it's gone over very well. Our experience with it has been excellent, we think it's a great way to go.

So, we recommend this not only for our clients, but also if you're just an individual landlord out there, call up an inspection company. You won't be able to hire this company because they cater only to property management companies, but you could call a home inspector and have them go out. It'll be more expensive, you're an individual landlord so you are taking on some extra expenses there that you don't get those cost savings from using a property manager, but you want to get those benefits of having that third party. 

So, try to find a property inspector to do that or better yet hire a management company and then you'll have somebody taking care of this for you. And ask that management company you know, when you're interviewing management companies ask them, do you use a third party inspector, and use that as something to judge the management company to decide whether they're looking out for your best interests and whether that's the best company to hire. Better yet give us a call or send us an email and we'll be happy to talk to you about managing your property and taking care of all this for you. If you have any questions about anything, just send us an email at support@gtlrealestate.com or you can give us a call at 678-648-1244. Thanks.


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