A home is a home, whether it’s rented or owned outright. The same issues that can plague homeowners can also affect tenants. The big difference is responsibility for the repairs. Where a homeowner is likely to want repairs that make the home more habitable, a rental situation might not be that straightforward. Landlords might balk. But a home inspection can help tenants gain a little more leverage.
Don’t Renters Already Have Move-in Inspections?
Rental agreements vary from one state to the next and by which guidelines a landlord wants to follow. Some are very strict. And some might require no formal agreement at all. Likewise, a new tenant walk-through inspection varies, depending on how important the condition of the rental home is to the renter.
The problem isn’t necessarily a tenant’s opportunity to inspect the home, but his or her knowledge of the home systems that need an inspection. Almost everyone will notice a hole punched through a wall. But telltale signs of a water leak might not be obvious. A home inspector can inspect what’s visible and accessible in a rental unit the same as in a home that the client intends to buy.
Rental inspections are at least as important as pre-sale inspections because of the potential for damage to appliances and other systems.
Can a Prospective Tenant Hire an Inspector?
Any prospective or existing tenant can hire an inspector. The question is whether or not the landlord will submit to it. Once the tenant is living in the apartment or single-family rental home, an inspector can enter and inspect it, likely without permission of the landlord. But local regulations might vary.
If the landlord refuses an inspection, that should be a clear sign to a prospective renter to keep looking elsewhere. And if the landlord advises am existing tenant that inspections are not allowed, the tenant should investigate local renter rights. The can vary greatly from one town to the next, even within the same state.
What Kind of Leverage can a Tenant Expect to Gain?
Before a rental agreement is signed, a poor inspection gives the landlord the opportunity to make repairs. But prospective tenants shouldn’t hold their breath. There’s quite a bit of leverage involved with a poor pre-sale inspection, as the owner wants the property to sell. With a rental, the motivation might be lacking, and the report carries no authority to force any necessary repairs.
An inspection that’s performed after a tenant moves in might offer more leverage, at least in certain locations. The renter isn’t at risk before moving in. Afterward, local landlord/tenant laws might be in effect, forcing the property owner’s hand with bringing the property up to current safety standards.
Most home inspections are performed for prospective buyers. But with the volume of renters and new rental properties springing up, rental property inspections are growing in popularity. That’s especially true in higher-end rental homes and those with an extended lease contract.
Although renters aren’t committing to a decades-long mortgage, they are somewhat stuck if the apartment or house turns out to be a lemon. With a comprehensive inspection of the property, more people can make more informed decisions about the homes where they choose to live.
Home inspecting is an industry that’s growing larger every day. If it sounds like the career opportunity that you’ve been waiting for, check out ICA School’s online courses and see what it’s all about. Get a free demo today.