As a landlord, it can be scary to allow a stranger to live in your house while you are away. The Inspection and Compliance Department’s main purpose is to ensure your tenants are treating your home appropriately. During your tenants lease period with McGrath Real Estate there are typically three to four inspections done at your property. Inspections are also known as “walk throughs”, and are performed before a tenant moves in, in the middle of their lease year, and when a tenant moves out. The purpose of the move in inspection is to document the overall condition of the property. It is essential to leave your property in superior condition to “set the tone”. In order for us to uphold the tenants to high standards, owners must maintain properties appearance to the best of their ability.
During the Move-In Walk Through, the inspector performs certain tasks every time. These include filling out an inspection report and taking photographs of all rooms to show the general condition and to take close up photos of any damage or other issues. These photos are all uploaded (to Shutterfly) and then sent to you, the owner. A detailed, instructional video is also taken showing the tenants the mechanical aspects of the property. This includes: main water cut off, outside hose bib cut-offs, how to winterize pipes, the location of the furnace filter, how breakers work, GFCI outlets, humidifiers, and fire alarms. At certain properties the videos will also include security system set up, how to operate pools and hot tubs and how to operate the garage door openers. The inspection team makes sure to look for any leaks in the ceiling, under sinks, around window frames, around the water heater and HVAC unit and around toilets and bathtubs. All smoke detectors are tested and the inspector stresses the importance of renter insurance and the 24 hour emergency repair line.
During the lease term there are two ways that the property will be inspected. First, approximately four to six months after the tenants move in, an inspector is sent to the property to perform an Annual Walk Through. The purpose of this walk through is to assess the treatment of the property by the tenant and try to identify preventative maintenance issues. Specifically, the inspector takes pictures of all main rooms and any items of interest. Pictures and notes are also taken of any repairs that were finished since the last inspection. All smoke detectors are checked again (if they are not working properly the inspector will make sure it is before leaving). This is when the Smoke Detector Certification Form is completed. Inspectors take care to check the furnace filter and its condition and have the tenant change it if necessary. The exterior of the home is also checked for damages and to make sure that any landscaping is being properly maintained. The gutters are checked to determine if cleaning is needed. Client Advocate reviews the report then forwards it on to you with any recommendations.
The inspector pays close attention to evidence of the number of occupants and pets living at the property. If a tenant is reported to have pets that are not allowed in the lease or the association, the Inspections Department will inform the tenant, then may follow up with a written notice of entry and inspection. Failure to comply with the lease regarding pets is a breach that the tenant may cure in 21 days, or face a second inspection that can lead to eviction. Eviction is rarely used in cases of unwelcome pets. Negotiation usually suffices. The same due diligence is followed when it comes to over-occupancy. If a tenant is reported to have added roommates without the landlord’s permission, the inspections department will call and/or email the tenant, then send notice of entry. If the house has occupants who are not on the lease, they are notified in writing and given 21 days to correct the breach of the lease and face a second inspection. If there is still over-occupancy at the second inspection, the landlord has the right 10 days later to have our firm send a Sheriff’s Notice and then file Unlawful Detainer (eviction) on the landlord’s behalf, with the courts. Eviction is rarely used for over-occupancy. John Bennett, one of the Senior Property Managers who deals exclusively with evictions and compliance issues says that in these matters negotiation and communication usually suffice.
Our Inspection team also conducts Emergency Inspections should we feel the tenant is breaching the terms of the lease. These situations can arise in several ways. First, if it is reported that there is an unauthorized pet or over-crowding the same procedures as above are followed. If it is determined that the tenant is smoking in the property, has violated the HOA Rules and Regulations or has caused major damage to the property, an emergency inspection will be done. Also, when there are extreme or inclement weather conditions (ie. Earthquakes, snow storms, hurricanes) we will conduct an emergency inspection of all vacant homes and visit homes where any problems have been reported.
Finally, when the tenant leaves the property, the Move-Out Walk Through is performed. The purpose of this inspection is to inspect and make comparative notes to the move-in walk through to determine any security deposit issues. The entire walk-through is documented with pictures and a detailed report. The inspector makes sure both the tenant and the owner are aware of any security deposit issues as promptly as possible.
Security deposit issues are handled entirely by our experienced inspections team. Each week the team meets to discuss all open cases and determine all issues by thoroughly comparing the move in and move out inspection reports. If the Inspections team deems a change in condition beyond normal wear and tear, they will send you a recommendation regarding monies to be taken from the security deposit.
Compliance with Rent Payments
On the fifth of every month, the Accounting Department produces a list of all late rent and sends the respective tenants a statement of all unpaid rent. Then they email the list of late tenants to our Inspections and Compliance department. The Inspections and Compliance Department follows up by contacting the tenant, as well as emailing you, the landlord, advising you that the rent will be late and that we are working on the situation. If the tenant does not respond or make the payment after the first email and phone call, we send an email and make another phone call. If the second attempt to get payment is ignored, McGrath Real Estate may have an Inspector drive by the home and attempt to make contact with your tenant. We have found that this action is rarely necessary.
When every step has been taken to obtain rent and it is still not received, McGrath Real Estate may begin the eviction process. We have the County Sheriff post a “Five Day Pay or Quit” notice on the door. If rent has STILL not been received after the additional five days, we can file an Unlawful Detainer (Eviction) on your behalf. We have found that eviction is only used in .5% of all our rentals. If you are interested in the entire eviction process, please contact our Senior Property Manager, John Bennett (JBennett@McGrathRealEstate.com).
Every property management company will tell you that they perform periodic inspections at the properties they manage. It seems like a no-brainer to us, but in reality most firms find they don’t have the “time” to do so, and periodic inspections are never done. McGrath Real Estate Services has strict procedures to ensure that all properties are inspected during the lease term to ensure your home is being well cared for. Our experienced Inspectors can spot trouble before it gets out of hand, and our Client Advocate team works very closely with them to ensure you know exactly what’s going on with your home. If you have any questions about our Inspections, please feel free to contact our Client Advocates, Gregg Waters and Tim Savin at ClientAdvocate@McGrathRealEstate.com.