This is it, the day you’ve been dreading. As you usher in your landlord for a routine inspection, you hold your breath as she goes through the rental inspection checklist. You realise with a pounding heart that there aren’t enough fingers to cross for good luck, and pray to the leasing gods that this will be over quickly.
What is the purpose of a rental property inspection?
A rental property inspection shouldn’t be as scary as it sounds. Stories of evicting tenants after their contract and tenants paying more than they should for alleged damages are a cause of stress for many residents, however.
Why does a property inspection have to be conducted in the first place? The purpose is less unnerving than you think.
Landlords inspect their real estate in the middle of a lease for two reasons:
- To examine the condition of their property
- To see if anything needs repair or maintenance
During a rental home inspection, your landlord or real estate agent will check the rooms, walls, furniture, appliances, and outdoor areas of the property. If you have maintained your rental home well, there isn’t any reason to be anxious or to start packing your bags.
Tell yourself calmly that your landlord just needs to see their property in good condition after they leased it over to you. Real estate is, after all, an investment that needs to be taken care of for future use.
While this may seem one-sided in favour of your landlord, you can use the meeting as an opportunity to raise your concerns about structural issues in your rental home. A power point that’s not working, for example, or a persistent odour coming from pipes are maintenance problems you need to inform your landlord about.
What is a rental inspection checklist?
A rental inspection checklist is a form that your landlord or property manager refers to when checking the current condition of the property at the end of your lease. The checklist documents the state of the rental home before it was turned over to you. It also includes an inventory of furniture, appliances, and other items in the property.
Rental inspection in Australia
In Australia, landlords and property managers have the right to inspect their property during a period of lease. A rental home inspection can also be conducted by a real estate agent. Depending on the state you’re residing in, a notice for rental house inspection can be given between 24 hours to 14 days before the date of inspection.
For Brisbane residents, you can expect to receive your notice 7 days prior to the inspection date. Queensland tenants are assured that they only have to undergo an inspection from their landlord or property manager once every 3 months.
How clean is clean?
Clean is a (very) subjective word. You and your landlord may have different opinions about what’s clean enough, and this can be a source of dispute if not handled properly.
Some landlords go over their property with a fine-toothed comb, while others are perfectly happy just to see that their home is intact. As a rule of thumb, the bare minimum is to have your rental home looking like how it first looked when it was turned over to you. This means that there shouldn’t be piles of dirty laundry on the bedroom floor, or rubbish strewn on the kitchen table. Torn wallpaper and broken windows should also be repaired in time for the inspection.
Of course, there is the occasional wear and tear such as furniture dents on carpets or curtains that have faded over time. With a fine line distinguishing between reasonable depreciation and outright property damage, how would you know if you’re up to par with rental home inspection standards?
These are the things on the house inspection checklist that you need to watch out for:
Even if your bedroom is a private space, your landlord will still need to see it during a routine inspection. Tenants tend to overlook cleaning the bedroom because this is where most personal items are stored. Unfortunately, this can lead to a pile-up of dirt and clutter.
A presentable and clean-smelling bedroom will definitely earn you lease renewal points with your property manager. When cleaning bedrooms, start from the top then work your way down to the bottom.
- Remove dust and cobwebs from ceiling fans, light fixtures, and wall hangings. Take care not to damage any delicate electrical wirings.
- Wipe the top surfaces of wardrobes, shelves, and cabinets with microfibre cloth.
- Spray glass cleaner on windows, then squeegee any remaining moisture off.
- Dust off window blinds and curtains.
- Organise the contents in your cabinets.
- Vacuum hard-to-clean surfaces like carpets. If your pet sleeps in your room, make sure that you have vacuumed all animal fur from the bed and carpet.
- If your bedroom smells like it has been slept in, change the sheets and deodorise the room with potpourri scented with a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
- Clean sliding door tracks using an old toothbrush dipped in a cleaning solution. Wipe with a dry microfibre cloth then allow to dry.
- If you have hard floors, mop the floors starting from the farthest end of the room, then moving towards the bedroom exit.
Imagine your landlord stepping into a dank and filthy bathroom. At the first sign of your landlord’s disgust, you know that your days in your rental home are numbered.
Spotless and odour-free bathrooms are a telltale sign that you are thorough in maintaining your rental home. Your bathroom can mean the difference between earning another lease with your landlord, or having to look for another property to move into.
How to clean your bathroom for an inspection:
- Get rid of accumulated dust and grime from exhaust fans using a soft-bristled brush or a microfibre cloth.
- Remove bits of used soap, tissue, or hairs stuck on the drain, if there are any.
- Scrub off mould and mildew on bathroom tiles, grout, shower heads, and sink.
- Dissolve soap scum and mineral deposits from shower screens and bathtubs using a calcium-dissolving cleaning solution. Gently scrub away any stubborn grime that’s left on the surface.
- Polish your bathroom mirror by spraying glass cleaner on the surface. Dry with a microfibre cloth for a shiny finish.
- Declutter your bathroom sink and throw away empty toothpaste tubes, small scraps of soap, and empty shampoo bottles. Keep it as minimalist as you can to maintain a tidy look, at least until the inspection is over.
- Disinfect the toilet bowl by adding a few drops of toilet cleaner into the bowl. You may need to scrub the inside of the bowl with a toilet brush to remove any scum that’s clinging to the ceramic.
- Mop off any stains on the floor then dry thoroughly.
The living room is the jack-of-all-trades of any home. Because it can be a makeshift bedroom, study, or dining area, it’s inevitable that mess and dirt will collect there.
In all likelihood, this is also where you and your landlord will be discussing concerns about your rental home, including maintenance issues and wear and tear matters. You wouldn’t want to entertain your landlord on a couch littered with your gym bag and an open bag of potato chips, would you?
Use the opportunity to meet with your landlord or property manager to your advantage. Put your best foot forward during an inspection with an inviting and clutter-free living space.
- Remove cobwebs and dust from ceiling fans.
- Throw away rubbish in your living room. This includes dried up flowers, lolly wrappers, and scraps of paper lying around.
- Remove any clutter on the furniture.
- Vacuum your couch and carpet to remove dust and debris.
- Mop off stains on the floor then dry thoroughly.
- Organise books and knickknacks on the shelves.
- As a finishing touch, align your furniture and straighten up throw pillows for an orderly look.
You want to give a good impression when your landlord steps into your rental home. Your kitchen is important in setting the tone for how the inspection will go. For one, how your kitchen smells can put your landlord at ease, or cause them discomfort. It’s best to put off grilling that slab of garlic-slathered salmon until after the inspection is over.
The kitchen area is also where you can find the most grease and grime. Food scraps, oil splatters, and grime can build up over time and give your kitchen a heavy worn and torn look. Spruce up your kitchen to give your landlord a pleasant experience during the inspection.
How to clean your kitchen for an inspection:
- Throw out food scraps and empty containers on the benchtop.
- Wash dirty dishes and kitchen towels and arrange them neatly in one corner of your kitchen.
- Declutter cupboards and drawers. Make space in these areas by removing unnecessary items.
- Organise items in your pantry by putting them in properly labeled bins. This includes canned food, beverage bottles, cereal boxes and other staples lying around.
- Scrub off oil splatters and grime from walls and kitchen appliances. Make sure to deep clean your kitchen equipment according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
- Degrease your range hood by wiping off dirt and grime with a damp cloth dipped in a detergent solution.
- Unclog drains and wipe off mineral deposits and water droplets from sinks and faucets.
- Mop away any spills and stains on your kitchen floor.
During an inspection, a tidy and clean laundry area is helpful in convincing your property manager that your rental home is well maintained. It’s quite easy to have a laundry area that your landlord will approve of.
- Start by ventilating your laundry area to allow air to circulate.
- Wash dirty laundry prior to the inspection. If you’re pressed for time, you can put used clothes in a hamper to still keep things tidy and organised.
- Set your washing machine into self-cleaning mode to remove mould and mildew build-up. This prevents unpleasant odours from wafting from your washing machine.
- Declutter drawers and shelves. Throw away empty soap packets, detergent bottles, and other items you don’t need.
- Wipe windows and clean walls to remove grime.
- Vacuum dust and spilled soap powder on the floor.
Yard and outdoor areas
The condition of the patio and lawn (if you have them) is the first thing that will greet your landlord or property manager. Give a good first impression by making sure that your outdoor area is litter-free and welcoming. Follow these quick tips to improve the cleanliness of your outdoor area.
- Sweep the floor of the patio to rid it of dried leaves and other debris.
- Mop away stains and dirt for a more thorough cleaning.
- Remove cobwebs and dust on your porch and outdoor furniture.
- Remove weeds from the garden and throw dried leaves in the rubbish bin.
- Make sure there’s no pet waste on the lawn.
Pass the inspection with flying colours
A rental inspection can make any tenant anxious. Property inspections should not be a measure of your cleaning abilities, but there are still standards you must meet to ensure that you have a smooth stay during your lease.
Despite your best efforts, however, there’s still a chance that your landlord will raise questions about the cleanliness of their property. Don’t lose hope! There’s a clever and quick fix to this problem: hire an expert cleaner. During a routine inspection, getting your landlord’s property deep-cleaned is the next best thing to an airtight solution.
Professional cleaners can freshen up any worn-looking home and make it tidy and organised. They will also take the guesswork out of meeting the requirements in the inspection checklist, as reliable cleaning services are keen to follow Australian industry standards.
With your rental home cleaned inside out, you’ll save yourself the stress of worrying about passing the inspection, and you’ll feel confident that you’re presenting a tidied and organised home to your landlord.