True or False? You Want to Be Sued

shutterstock_93505327Assuming that you’re of sound mind, the answer will be false. Nobody wants to be sued. As a property manager in this day and age, though, it’s a possibility, especially if the property inspections are not carried out in a careful and thorough way.

Property managers are fighting a double-sided war most of the time. The duties of the property manager fall under having to take care of the homeowner’s interests and the tenant’s needs. They need to make sure both the tenant and the homeowner are holding up their part of the agreed contract. This means:

  • Making sure the tenant isn’t subletting
  • Making sure the tenant hasn’t damaged the property in any way
  • Making sure maintenance repairs are carried out on the property

The Property Inspection

Property inspections go a long way to ensuring all parties are satisfied. They are the perfect opportunity for a property manager to find out whether or not the tenant is abiding by the terms set out in the agreement. Different states require property inspections to be carried out at different times throughout the tenancy. However, generally speaking, it’s best to carry out property inspections shortly after a new tenant moves into a home and then periodically throughout their residence. A further inspection should then be made when the tenants move out, before new tenants move in.

Conducting an Inspection

The property manager will need to check:

  • Plumbing to make sure everything works
  • Electrical wires for hazards
  • Walls, floors and ceilings for damage/need of decoration, etc.
  • Appliances to make sure they’re in full working order
  • Structural indescrepencies anywhere in or on the house (porch, roof, basement, etc.)

Normally, a checklist will be used to make sure everything has been looked over and then a report will be filed and sent to the homeowner. If there is anything uncovered in the inspection that would involve repairs, etc., the property manager would be responsible for hiring a contractor and having the work executed.

What Happens if the Property Inspection Is Poor?

Property inspections might be a lengthy process, but they’re pretty straightforward, right? Well yeah, but when you’re talking about property inspections for multiple homes on top of the gazillion other jobs a property inspector has to do, things can start to get a little messy.

For instance: In an effort to fit several appointments in one day, at the end of a long week a manager might forget to check the basement. This might not be a problem, unless of course there was a leaky faucet that later went on to flood the basement. What are the chances of that though? The point is that it doesn’t matter what the chances are, it could happen and if a property manager is found to be negligent then they could be sued, lose their job and their reputation. All for forgetting to check the basement.

While it’s rare for cases to come to fruition against property managers for negligence, property managers who don’t carry out thorough inspections may well be jeopardizing their indemnity insurance.

The Moral of the Story

Although every property inspection will be unique in itself due to the many variables involved, there must be a consistency in the way they are carried out.

Property inspection software may have valuable tools and features to aid property managers in this respect.

  • Customizable checklists help make sure that everything that falls under the property manager’s responsibility has been checked every time.
  • Features will allow property managers to make a note of an item to check next time, and be reminded of it for the next inspection.
  • Video Inspections help everyone see exactly what the property manager sees as if they stood there with them, making it even easier to settle disputes.

With the recent spotlight being cast on the quality of property inspections, it’s essential for property managers now more than ever to make sure they meet the requirements of their clients as well as keep their livelihood safe.

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