Routine Inspections

Routine Inspections

Property Management is all about processes and systems. There is not a lot of debate about what Best Practice systems look like, so you would reasonably expect that all real estate agencies would deliver similar service levels to their landlord clients and tenant customers.  Sadly, you would be wrong.

Most agencies start with this goal in mind, but fail with the consistent delivery of Best Practice service. Many elements have to come together and stay together. Beginning with structure (Portfolio is clearly the best), the agency then needs to have sufficient capacity, discipline, management commitment, hardware & software technology plus the right type of people.

As an example, I’ll describe how Marriott Lane delivers Routine Inspections. The Initial Inspection, where the condition of the vacant property is comprehensively recorded, is the benchmark for damage, cleanliness and inclusions. The tenant is expected to return the property to the owner in a similar state, given fair wear and tear. Routine inspections are made at regular intervals between these events.  They are the most labour intensive activity in real estate and quite physically and emotionally draining. With the right attitude, chatting with the tenant can be fulfilling.

The primary reason routine inspections are conducted is to find unreported maintenance issues. Tenants always report inoperable stoves, lights, toilets etc but may ignore leaks, mould and loose tiles. We set the first Routine at three months after the tenant moves in, then six-monthly thereafter. This gives us a chance to conduct a rent review three months before the end of any lease.

We invite landlords to every inspection. Most agencies don’t. Our investment in 3-D cameras, allows us to provide the owner with an annual 3-D tour experience of their property. Additionally, many still-photographs are recorded at each visit to ensure that the precise current condition of flooring, walls, benchtops etc. is updated. Some tenants can be concerned about their untidiness being recorded and perhaps feeling shamed.  We are sensitive to this and remind them that we are focused on maintenance, not tidiness. While every owner like their property to be pristine and free of clutter, our only concern is when the clutter may cause damage to the property.

I’ve observed over the years, that Routines are the first casualty of a stressed agency. It’s the one big thing that can be skipped, because the owner often won’t notice it.  That’s where many agencies enter the slippery slope of deciding near enough is good enough and Best Practice is just too hard.

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