Regular inspections are part of an investment property's cycle of life. From move-in day to move-out, successful investors and McKinney property management experts understand the importance of keeping a close eye on your properties. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has put the process of inspecting your properties in an entirely new light.
What happens when a tenant wants to delay an inspection? Landlords must follow the law regarding legal entry into tenant-occupied rental properties even during the best of times. Suddenly, if your tenant wants to wait a week (or four) for an inspection, you may actually breathe a sigh of relief! However, eventually, it's still worth investigating the condition of your McKinney rental home—even if it's just a drive-by or look at the exterior as we exit hail season.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, it may no longer seem strange that your renters may want to delay an inspection. However, what happens when restrictions are lifted—and your renter still doesn't want to grant access? Even during a crisis, inspecting your property is crucial to understanding its condition. Here are some things to be aware of from the perspective of an expert in McKinney property management.
Please note: This article is not intended as a substitute for the great legal advice of a skilled attorney or the expert services of a McKinney property manager. When in doubt, reach out to the pros at RentHub Property Management!
Why You Can't Barge In
First, let's touch on the rules: property investors have to honor the law—and tenants have to follow the rules.
The Lease Agreement
Your tenants live in your investment property as long as they pay the rent on time and follow the rules of the lease agreement. While COVID-19 has forced all of us to learn to be a bit more flexible with our neighbors, your lease agreement should still have outlined information about the frequency and types of inspections that you plan to conduct in the course of the lease.
The property is yours—but tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy while living in your McKinney rental home. That means property owners cannot surprise a tenant and request to come in without providing notice ahead of time. During COVID-19, this is beneficial to you as a landlord: it gives you a chance for your renters to inform you if anyone at home is ill or has an increased risk during exposure due to underlying health conditions.
Property owners also cannot enter a rental home while tenants are away without letting your renters know ahead of time—unless there is an emergency. In most cases, a routine inspection does not count as an emergency. As tempting as it might be to simply stop by while your renters are out getting groceries without letting them know, we don't recommend this approach as a McKinney property management professional.
That said, tenants cannot deny your entry for an unreasonable amount of time—especially when we return to 'business-as-usual' operations here in the McKinney area. Legal notice can be as little as 12 hours in some cases, depending on the state. Texas, in particular, has no set limit—but 24 hours is a respectable place to start. This also gives you the opportunity as a landlord to reschedule if your renters are sick or to prepare with the right PPE.
So, what do you do when you try to schedule your next inspection, but your renters keep wanting to extend the date? You have options.
You're Still in Charge
It's critical to maintain a good relationship with your tenants, especially during a pandemic—but you also can't let your renters dictate the terms for when inspections can take place in your properties. You own the property, and you want to protect it. Regular inspections do that—and tenants must comply. That said, you can still approach the process with an element of compassion.
It's a good idea to start with a compromise if the first scheduling suggestion doesn't work for your tenant.
If your lease agreement specifies that you give 24-hour notices before inspections, remind your tenant that they agreed to this by signing the lease. Then offer a solution:
- If inspecting within 24 hours doesn't work for your tenant, offer an extra day.
- Waiting a week to perform a routine inspection could still be reasonable: create a timeframe and stick to it.
- Remember, your tenant doesn't need to be there for an inspection: consider offering to wait until they have left their rental home to conduct your visit or have them wait outside.
Take Additional Action
Protecting your real estate investments requires regular inspections and maintenance—even during a crisis. Providing advanced notice that you'll be on the property for an inspection permits you to enter your investment property.
While it's courteous to let your tenants respond or request to delay for a day or two, they can't keep you out long term. That said, there are some additional precautions worth taking during this time.
- Contact your renters ahead of time to touch base about their health and whether it is safe to enter when providing them with the notice of your intent to inspect.
- Schedule inspections during regular business hours (avoid weekends and evenings).
- Work with a McKinney property management partner to handle the rigors of the inspection process during a time of social-distancing.
A property manager takes on your inspection scheduling process and carries out the inspection for you, so you don't have to negotiate with your renters or worry about needing to enter your McKinney rentals during COVID-19 season.
Property Management Keeps Your Inspections On Schedule
At RentHub, our automated processes help us keep every property on schedule for routine inspections and professional maintenance—while holding tenants accountable and protecting your properties. That said, we know that inspecting your properties isn't the only concern you may have as a landlord during the novel Coronavirus pandemic.
One of the top concerns that property owners have approached us with is how they can carefully and compassionately collect rent in a time when so many of their renters might be struggling. We've got your back: download your free copy of our Collecting Rent in a Crisis Handbook to get started. Then, if you have any questions or need additional support, reach out to the experts at RentHub Property Management! Whether it's routine inspections or rent collection, we're here for you.