What are the duties of a rental property agent?

One of the most important tasks of a rental property agent is to make certain that a joint incoming inspection is carried at the property.

If this is not done and the subsequent report is not signed and agreed to by all the parties in the lease, says Wayne Albutt of Rawson Rentals, there are likely to be claims and counter claims when the lease expires and the tenant moves on.

Albutt laid down five steps which, he says, the agent must complete if he is to do his duty:

1. He should inspect the property with the landlord before the tenant moves in and should identify all snags and problems before they need attention. If possible these should also be rectified before the tenant takes occupation, but if this is not possible they should be listed in the tenant's lease.

2. He should take possession of a complete set of keys and check that all locks are working.

3. He should see that the pool pump and filter (if there is a swimming pool), as well as the irrigation system in the garden, (again, if there is one) are working.

4. If the property is furnished, he should get hold of or draw up a comprehensive inventory list, which has to be accurate and, once checked, should form an addendum to the lease.

5. He should ensure that all appliances and equipment on the inventory list are working.

With these precautions attended to and sorted out, the agent must then do the joint incoming inspection with the tenant. This should be carried out room by room and with each item and possible defect reported on and described in full.

The more detail that can accompany the list, says Albutt, the better, and if possible, colour photographs should also be attached to the report. These should be both general, e.g. the room as a whole, and particular, e.g. close-ups of scratches or blemish marks. Already inserted screws, hooks, nails, cracks, plaster peelings and other imperfections should also be listed and photographed. Even the inside of cupboards should, says Albutt, be photographed.

The agent must, too, note the current water and electricity readings, if possible also photographing them, at the start of the lease period.

Once the inspection report has been completed, says Albutt, it should be signed by the tenant and by the agent. If the tenant refuses to sign, this has to be noted on the report and the usual practice is to then appoint an independent inspector to give a report on the whole house, or countersign as a witness.

Once the report has been signed, copies should be made of it and these should be sent to both the tenant and the landlord with the agent, of course, keeping his copy for later reference.

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