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Why are property inspections so important?

When it comes to renting out a property, a home inspection is vital to ensure that the interests of both the landlord and tenant are protected, says Grant Rea, RE/MAX Living Rental Specialist. He adds that while it may seem like it can be a tedious exercise, not doing a proper inspection will leave the landlord with little, or in fact no legal recourse should their asset be damaged in anyway.

“Landlords or rental agents who have not conducted a property inspection when the tenant takes occupation will not be able to take any action in the event that the rental unit has been damaged during the course of the tenancy. Generally a landlord or rental management agent will be able to withhold the rental deposit to mitigate any financial cost of repairing any damage to the rental unit, however if no property inspection was done beforehand, they will not be within their legal rights to do so and will have to absorb the full cost of the repair,” advises Rea.

Elly Stavros, Operations and Marketing Director of Property Sprout, a company that specialises in streamlining the property inspection process, says that South African legislation through the Rental Housing, Unfair Practices Regulations and Consumer Protection Acts, dictate the practice around home inspections and the refund of the damages deposit. “According to the Rental House Act, when a property is rented, it is required that an agreed-upon, documented ingoing and outgoing inspection is undertaken by both the landlord and the tenant. If either party is unable to attend, they may send an assigned representative on their behalf,” says Stavros. “The act also stipulates that the tenant may pay the damage deposit before they take occupancy of the rental unit.”

She adds that it is not just in the landlord’s best interest to undertake a property inspection. A tenant benefits in that they cannot be held liable for any damage that was there prior to them moving in to the property. “Although there is a long list of things that a tenant would rather do than attend a property inspection, if they don’t they are making themselves vulnerable by accepting the landlord’s version of the state and condition of the property. This could lead to disputes and the deposit being forfeited down the line,” says Stavros.

According to Rea, it is advisable for landlords to also undertake a midterm inspection approximately halfway through the tenancy agreement in order to monitor the state of the property and intervene early if there is any breach or damage. Stavros agrees saying that a midterm inspection will ensure that any unpleasant situations will be nipped in the bud and not escalate any further than necessary. “A midterm inspection allows the landlord to monitor their asset during the tenancy and it allows the tenant to bring up any maintenance or repair issues that should be attended to by the landlord. There is no need for the midterm inspection to be long and drawn out, but it is vital that any obvious damage or pressing maintenance issues are documented so that they can be addressed by the relevant party,” says Stavros.

She concludes by saying that if property inspections are done in the right manner, they can provide a safety net to all parties involved, saving both time and money.

 For more information regarding software to simplify the home inspection process visit www.propertyinspect.co.za


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