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The landlord’s essential guide to periodic property inspections

Being a landlord can be an extremely rewarding job but it can also be a challenging one. There are many things to do before you even market the property, as well as all the legal responsibilities you need to keep up to date with. When the property has been let you also need to be mindful of the duty of care you owe to your tenant. 

Once the tenant has moved into your property, the best way to make sure they are looking after the property and meeting all their responsibilities is to carry out regular property inspections.

I am the agent have created this guide to help landlords understand why periodic inspections are so important – how and when they should be carried out and what should be checked during inspections.

The Homes (Fitness for Human Habitation) Act 2018 rightly states that landlords have a duty of care when it comes to meeting their existing responsibilities relating to property standards and safety, and making sure their property is fit for human habitation at the beginning of the tenancy and throughout. Being mindful of all the rules and taking care of the property with inspections can save time and money later on.

This guide will cover:

  • Why you should carry out regular inspections
  • How often to inspect
  • Your statutory and non-statutory legal responsibilities 
  • Which parts of the property need inspecting
  • How to document the inspection

Why regular property inspections are vital 

The primary purpose of an inspection is to assess the overall condition of both the interior and exterior of the property and record any repairs or maintenance that may be required. It’s also a useful reminder to tenants of how they should be looking after the property and a way of maintaining a good relationship between landlords and tenants. Inspections are an opportunity for all parties to ask questions and for tenants to discuss any issues they might be experiencing with the property. 

It’s important to carry out regular checks as this will highlight any necessary maintenance and safety issues, which can then be dealt with as soon as possible. If any issues come to light, this is the time to remind tenants of their responsibility to report problems as soon as they happen to avoid the issue getting worse.

Keeping your tenant safe, as well as avoiding unnecessary costs and complaints from them, is key but you won’t want to carry out these checks too often or unnecessarily, as it could put a strain on the relationship. The industry generally considers carrying out periodic inspections at three, four or six monthly intervals, allowing for the changes in seasons and weather conditions which can sometimes cause or reveal issues.

Carrying out a periodic inspection will allow you to:

  • check and record the current condition and cleanliness of the property, bearing in mind the tenant is living in the property
  • attend to any necessary maintenance or repairs 
  • make sure the tenant is looking after the property and offer any necessary advice

How often should inspections take place? 

As well as the inspection at the beginning and end of the tenancy (check-in and check-outs), regular checks throughout the year are useful for all tenants, new and old, as well as landlords. 

Some landlords carry out the first inspection after only one month, to satisfy themselves that all is well, and this can also help build on the landlord, tenant relationship. Following that the frequency of the inspections should be no less than every three months, to avoid harassment. Make sure to check the terms of your landlord insurance before deciding on the appropriate frequency of your visits as not doing them regularly enough might invalidate any future claim you make. 

Some tenancy agreements include a clause saying that periodic inspections will be carried out during the tenancy. It’s worth explaining to the tenant, when they move in, that you intend carrying out periodic inspections and how often. You could even agree on an inspection schedule with the tenant at the start of the tenancy. This lets the tenant know you are looking after their interests, as well as your own, and it won’t be a surprise when they happen. This helps to manage everyone’s expectations.

It is a good idea to put any agreed or potential inspection dates into your calendar as well as the renewal dates for any required certificates or licences.

Tip: Contact the tenant a couple of weeks after they have moved in to ask them how things are going. Experience shows that after that short amount of time they will have used most of the appliances and become aware of a few things in the property, which are not fully functional, but they decided not to bother you with. 

It is quite common for tenants to not review check-in reports and highlight any problems when they should, in the first few days, so as well as helping them with a call, it can also raise potential maintenance issues before they become bigger problems that you are unaware of. Really good examples are a dripping tap or a window that won’t open. Remember that a person’s experience of living in a property is quite a different one to that of those renting it out.

Giving notice of an inspection

Even if you have agreed your periodic inspections well in advance, or you feel the need to do a one off inspection, due to previous problems, you need to give the tenant sufficient notice.

The 1988 Housing Act gives a tenant the right to live, undisturbed, in a property for an agreed amount of time and for an agreed amount of rent. The tenant has the right to ‘quiet enjoyment’, which means the right to make use of their home without disturbance from the landlord or anyone acting on their behalf. 

The Act also allows landlords to enter the premises to view its ‘condition and state of repair’. What it does not do is give landlords the right to simply turn up at the property unannounced and demand entry. A landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours’ notice of an unscheduled inspection - ideally in writing - and it should only take place at a ‘reasonable time of the day’. Best practice is to give more than 24 hours where possible, even up to a week, which allows the tenant time to agree and get the property ready for inspection. If the tenant wants to be present, this time also means they can reorganise any other commitments, such as work.   

Entering the property in an emergency

While we hope it isn’t the case that you need to access the property due to an emergency, in reality emergencies do happen. In these circumstances you can enter the property without giving notice or getting the tenant’s consent. These include where:

  • there’s a fire or a smell of gas
  • immediate remedial work is required to maintain the tenant’s safety or protect the structure of the property
  • you suspect dangerous or criminal activity is going on

Your common sense should dictate if you think something is an ‘emergency situation’. 

Can my tenant refuse access to my property?

Even if there is a clause written into the tenancy agreement and there’s no emergency, and you have no grounds to suspect illegal activity in the property, your tenant CAN legally refuse you access. 

It may be that the date you’ve suggested isn’t convenient for them, in which case a new date can be arranged. Alternatively, the tenant may claim illness, mental health issues or a viral pandemic as a reason for refusing access. If this is the case exercise reasonableness, show willing and be as flexible as possible to reach a mutually agreeable time.  

The ‘key’ to good tenant relations

Except in an emergency, as a landlord you have no right to enter the property without the tenant’s consent unless you are carrying out tasks agreed in the tenancy agreement such as gardening or cleaning. Entering the property without permission is illegal and doing so frequently can be seen as harassment.

What you should look out for during the inspection

Once you have agreed a time and date, the inspection can go ahead. 

As a landlord, it’s your duty  to make sure your property is legally compliant and a safe place for your tenants to live. You or the agent will be looking to see if anything needs repairing or replacing during the inspection, and whether there is anything that might represent a danger to the tenant, and it’s an opportunity to check that the tenant isn’t doing anything that is in breach of the tenancy agreement. It’s also a perfect opportunity to check in with them, make sure they are happy and to discuss and resolve any potential issues they might have.

Though there will be some crossover, the inspection can be split into three distinct sections:

  • Statutory inspection checks
  • Property condition 
  • Tenancy breaches

Statutory inspection checks

There are three key health and safety areas where landlords must carry out statutory annual checks to fulfil their legal responsibilities and meet their duty of care to the tenant. These checks do save lives and they are the landlord’s responsibility not the agent’s: 

Gas safety

  • Give the tenant a copy of the gas safety certificate before they move in
  • Have every gas appliance, boiler and flue checked by a Gas Safe registered engineer on an annual basis 
  • Give a copy of the gas safety certificate to your tenant within 28 days of the annual check being carried out

Fire safety

  • Install and test a smoke alarm on each floor of the property as a minimum. Replace batteries when needed
  • Make sure all alarms are in working order at the start of each new tenancy
  • Supply and test a carbon monoxide alarm in each room that has a solid fuel burner or stove. Replace batteries if needed 
  • If the property is an HMO, install fire alarms, fire extinguishers (tested) and fire blankets
  • Make sure that escape routes are freely accessible and that the tenant knows where they are 
  • If there are fire doors make sure they have clear access and can be opened 
  • Check that all furniture provided and furnishings are ‘fire safe’ products 

Electrical safety

  • Have a registered electrician carry out a professional check every five years to get an Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) or sooner if the most recent report recommends it 
  • Make the EICR available to every tenant before they move in and each time the tenancy changes hands
  • Protect against potential electric shocks by checking the property has an adequate residual current device (RCD) installed 

While it is not law, it is good practice for:

  • all movable electrical items supplied to have an annual portable appliance test (PAT). Any items that aren’t in good condition or not fit for purpose should be replaced 
  • a registered electrician to carry out a visual inspection of the electrical system between tenancies, including checking all sockets and light fittings


Tenancy breaches

Most tenants are responsible, respect where they are living and will take good care of your  property, but you may have a tenant who is less considerate for any number of reasons. They may well try to hide what’s going on, so look carefully during every inspection and take action to deal with anything you find, making sure you keep a written record of all communication.

Illegal activity

Pre-arranging periodic inspections with the tenant at the start of the tenancy is a great way to reduce the potential risks of any illegal activity (although background checks before the tenancy starts will obviously help too!). 
Sometimes the signs can be obvious. 

Tenants who sub-let

Your tenant might look to sub-let your property without your knowledge or permission. This may be because they are splitting the cost of the rent or making a profit from their sub-tenant. 

Sub-letting can lead to overcrowding which has legal implications, for example, if it becomes an HMO.  Be alert to any signs that the property might be being sub-let:

  • Are there too many beds for the number of tenants? If you rent to a single person does it look like more people are living there?
  • Are tenants claiming the people staying there are just guests?
  • Are there any signs that additional areas, such as sheds and outhouses, are being used  (often referred to by the press as ‘beds in sheds’)? 


Most tenancy agreements ban smoking as it can result in costly repairs which are time consuming. Smoking is not illegal and clauses in tenancy agreements are not always enough to deter tenants. If you are a non-smoker the smell of cigarettes is easy to detect, as it lingers and any attempts to disguise it or cover it with other strong smells is difficult. Even harder to hide are the nicotine stains on decoration and furnishings – or worse, burns. If you see signs of smoking, tell the tenant and remind them that they are ultimately responsible for returning the property in the same condition and standard of cleanliness as when they moved in and if they don’t, they will have to pay costs to make good.

Recording the property’s condition

A property visit is typically an overview inspection of all areas. As the property is occupied, it cannot be as thorough as a check-in or check-out inspection. The most useful report will record:

  • any obvious signs of property damage
  • any changes in the condition of each item on your checklist compared to the previous inspection
  • damage that the tenant should have reported as they may be responsible for some of the costs to remedy the problem if it has got worse
  • photographs of any obvious deterioration
  • anything specific that the tenant may need to be advised about such as drying clothes on radiators

You can then arrange for any work needed to be carried out and advice given. Bear in mind  that rental properties tend to suffer from higher levels of wear and tear – which is not the tenant’s responsibility.  

Learning points

  • Mid-term inspections are a great way of making sure the property is being looked after and recording anything out of the ordinary which can, if necessary, be followed up and is good evidence for any negotiation at the end of the tenancy.
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