One of the most important tasks of a rental property agent, if he is to ensure a good, ongoing relationship between tenants and landlords and comply with the Rental Housing Act, is to make sure that a joint incoming inspection is carried out at the property, says Wayne Albutt, national manager of Rawson Rentals.
If this is not done and the subsequent report is not signed and agreed to by all the parties in the lease, there are likely to be claims and counter-claims when the lease expires and the tenant moves on. Albutt laid down five steps which the agent must complete if he is to do his duty:
- He should inspect the property with the landlord before the tenant moves in and should identify all snags and problems before they need attention. If possible these should also be rectified before the tenant takes occupation, but if this is not possible they should be listed in the tenant's lease.
- He should take possession of a complete set of keys and check that all locks are working.
- He should see that the pool pump and filter, as well as the irrigation system, are working.
- If the property is furnished, he should get hold of or draw up a comprehensive inventory list and, once checked, form an addendum to the lease.
- He should ensure that all appliances and equipment on the inventory list are working.
With these precautions attended to and sorted out, the agent must then do the joint incoming inspection with the tenant. This should be carried out room by room and with each item and possible defect reported on and described in full.
The more detail that can accompany the list the better, and if possible, colour photographs should also be attached to the report. Already inserted screws, hooks, nails, cracks, plaster peelings and other imperfections should also be listed and photographed. Even the inside of cupboards should be photographed. The agent must note the current water and electricity readings, if possible also photographing them, at the start of the lease period.
Once the inspection report has been completed, it should be signed by the tenant and by the agent. If the tenant refuses to sign, this has to be noted on the report and the usual practice is to then appoint an independent inspector to give a report on the whole house, or countersign as a witness. Once the report has been signed, copies should be made of it and these should be sent to both the tenant and the landlord with the agent keeping his copy for later reference.