England has started down the long road to exit the third lockdown with restrictions starting to ease as we move through the Government’s 4 Step Plan. Essential moves and viewings have continued throughout the past 18 months, albeit with the necessary safety and hygiene practices in place – property inspections must not be forgotten post lockdown.

Essential work in the rental property has been permitted during this time however, a growing issue has been the less urgent repairs and maintenance. This gradual build-up into a more urgent pile of work means delays could in fact cause bigger more expensive problems for the landlord to manage.

The delay in non-essential work could be attributed to a number of factors including:

  • Tenants failing to report non-essential work – this could be due to being clinically vulnerable or simply being reluctant to have anyone else in the property 
  • Tenants needing to self-isolate because of a positive COVID test or poor health
  • Reduced availability of landlords or letting agents – this could be due to working from home, family commitments for homeschooling or furloughing of agents
  • Reduced availability of maintenance professionals – due to sickness or needing to self-isolate through potential exposure to infection or being clinically vulnerable
  • Maintenance professionals needing to work reduced hours due to having to meet family/childcare requirements

Post Lockdown Property Repairs and Maintenance

As we continue to exit lockdown, it’s likely that tenants will start to make contact regarding repairs that have been ‘on the back burner’ during this period. Those tenants who have been avoiding or unable to have tradespeople in their home whilst lockdown has been in force may well feel more confident in allowing strangers over the threshold once the perceived risk has reduced. 

Landlords and letting agents need to be prepared for this or at least have everything in place to ensure that the demand in maintenance requests are met and quickly. Having waited until lockdown lifted to report repair needs, tenants will likely expect a swift response so organisation will be key to managing the ‘urgent’ requests as efficiently as possible.

Navigating Property Inspections After Lockdown

Even if tenants don’t have a long list of repairs or maintenance queries, it will still be a good idea for landlords and letting agents to start catching back up on property inspections that have not been carried out. 

As professional inventory providers know; tenants may not always be able to see or notice repairs that need doing, until they have become a much bigger problem. 

Regular property inspections are vital for a number of reasons including:

  • To avoid small issues becoming more expensive problems
  • Check that the property is safe – smoke/carbon monoxide alarms are ‘working’
  • Making sure the property is not over occupied
  • Identifying that no unauthorised pets are present
  • Check for any broken doors or windows that could affect the security of the property
  • Check on the welfare of the tenant – especially if they have been living alone during the lockdown

The list of reasons is often more complex depending on property type, length of tenancy etc; you can find more details about the process involved in carrying out regular property or interim visits at InventoryBase Academy – Learn How to Produce Professional Property Reports

How often should property inspections be carried out?

Typical periods for interim visits can be:

  • Every 3-4 months if the property is let on short-term lets
  • Every 12 months if the property is let for over 12 months
  • Every 2-3 years if the property is let very long term
  • At least every 3-6 months for an HMO Property

Next steps

Landlords and agents know that the longer repairs or maintenance are left, the more likely it is that they will result in more time and effort to rectify which will mean they are likely to increase costs to the landlord. And as some people continue to self-isolate post lockdown; both landlords, letting agents and the supplier chain need to find a way to continue ‘business as normal’ in terms of conducting inspections. 

A key option is to utilise expert property management software to make the task cost and time efficient. InventoryBase enables inventory professionals; landlords and agents to conduct interim inspections both ‘in person’ and remotely. 

Live Inspections are a safe and secure way for inventory clerks, property managers and landlords to ‘visit’ and conduct inspections of the property remotely. Providers will be able to review the property virtually without the need to enter the home, helping to keep tenants safe and maintaining social distancing. With Live inspections; the clerk will be able to carry out multiple property visits, unhindered by the need to travel, collect and return keys and more importantly, lessen the disruption to the tenants work or family routines. 

The last year has been more challenging than anyone could have ever expected or imagined but hopefully with the option of vaccinations, the number of infections and fatality levels decreasing, things can start to return to something like normal, whatever that now is. 

For more information visit InventoryBase – Live Inspections – Inspect Properties Remotely, from Anywhere