I was out doing service calls on some of our rentals yesterday. There’s a reason for that. It’s mainly that I like to handle the repairs listed on a newly installed tenants’ move-in inspection sheet. First, let me tell you about the importance of the move-in inspection process, and then, I’ll explain why I like to handle those repairs myself.
During the lease-up process, which is the hour that we spend with new tenants going over our lease, there’s a portion dedicated to the move-in inspection. It reads as follows:
“Management wants the Residents to protect themselves to the best of their ability. Therefore, Residents are given every opportunity to document defects in the house they occupy. THIS WILL ESTABLISH THE INITIAL CONDITION ACCORDING TO THE RESIDENTS AS WELL AS THE CONDITION IN WHICH THE PREMISES WERE LEFT BY THE PRIOR TENANTS. Management agrees to have all functional defects remedied to the best of their ability at no cost to the residents. Residents are encouraged to report everything on or about the property that requires repair no matter how slight.”
During the lease up, I ask them to give the house a good shakedown and make sure they list any defects they find. We let them know that the importance of the move-in inspection is twofold. No.1, they are grading how the previous tenants left the house. And No. 2, they are protecting themselves from liability of damage caused by the previous tenants.
Now, we rarely, if ever, have tenants hurt our houses. But should damage ever occur and we have to go to court, having our move-in inspections done this way gives us a third-party view of what the property looked like when the new tenant moved in. Therefore, the old tenant cannot blame personality conflicts for our scrutiny of the condition of the property if we have to go before a judge.
This process sets up expectations in the minds of the new tenants that they will also be graded and scrutinized when they leave.
New tenants are supposed to get the move-in inspection sheet back to us three days after the move in. Doing it after they move in is important because things tend to show up after they’ve spent a few nights there that they could easily miss in a vacant house.
A case in point was we had a tenant fill out and send in a move-in inspection sheet before she moved in. We went ahead and scheduled repairs. After she moved in, she called and said there was no hot water. We had to send our guys out again, only to find the breaker to the water heater was off. That second trip could’ve been avoided.
Since then, we have developed another philosophy, which includes me going out to do the repairs.
We wait about two weeks before scheduling repairs, assuming nothing major was on the list. But things like an outlet that doesn’t work can wait. This allows the tenant to have been in the house for close to three weeks before I come out.( That’s two weeks, plus the week it took to get the move-in inspection back) During that time, they will have lived in the house and can let me know of any other issues that come up.
But the best part of this strategy is that I get to do a surprise in-home inspection. What I do is after the two weeks are up, I let them know that we will be scheduling service calls the following week. I don’t tell them what day.
The morning I plan to do them, I text the tenant to let them know I will be out and ask if I need to bring a key or will someone be home. Nine times out of ten they are already at work. This means they left the house and did not expect an inspection.
I did this on two houses yesterday and both were immaculate. One of them looked like a showcase at Bed Bath & Beyond. They had no idea I was coming, and it really made me smile knowing they left their house in such great condition.
This strategy helps confirm what we saw at the in-home during the application process and let’s us know we made the right tenant choice.
Joe and Ashley English buy houses and mobile homes in Northwest Georgia. For more information or to ask a question, go to www.cashflowwithjoe.com or call Joe at 678-986-6813.