Is now a good time to inspect your property in Clapham and Brixton?

Property inspections are certainly one of the less talked-about areas of property investment. After all, it's not as exciting as buying something cheap, developing a property or that buzz when a tenant or buyer is found. Nonetheless it remains an important part of your investment strategy.

Why is that? Well, like with any investment, you will need to look after your bricks and mortar. As human beings we all have different standards as to what is acceptable, and given the fact that tenants are likely not to look after the property as you would (possibly worse but possibly better too, bonus!). Quite simply put, as an experienced property investor/homeowner you will be very experienced in the "obvious" things. Not to dry loads of washing inside with the heating off and no ventilation is likely to result in moisture buildup in the house for instance. You know this. Your tenants may know this, they may not! An inspection will tell you how the house is being treated, from moisture buildups to excessive wear and tear. Here's a list of a few things you should be watching out for, and learn from your experience to tell tenants you let to next time "these are the things that the previous tenants did and damaged the property, make sure you don't make the same mistake."


  • Not ventilating properly - especially a problem with a lot of people (3+) in the house as moisture will build up.
  • Not heating properly - goes hand in hand with the aforementioned point. A warm house is a dry house, preventing moisture on the windows which then drips down on to the woodwork and rotting it over time. Tenants will argue it costs too much, but explain a tenner a month extra on heating will protect their deposit. At the end of the tenancy if the wear is excessive you are allowed to make deductions based on the expected life expectancy and the actual life expectancy, if they differ then a pro-rata deduction can be made.
  • Gardening - are they mowing the lawn regularly or will you have to get a clearance company to do it when they leave and make deductions? Most tenancy agreements will have provisions for this sort of thing.
  • Cleaning - if the place is filthy, insist on a cleaner. Their time is obviously spent either working or relaxing, what's a cleaner for £30-50 a week between 3 people in order to live in a palace as opposed to a slum? Again, will save them money on a massive post tenancy clean. Also on a personal note, oven cleaning companies at £40 every six months is highly recommended!
  • Reporting repairs - nothing is more upsetting than seeing something that has gone wrong that could have been prevented from being as bad as it is if only the tenant had let you know. Fact of the matter is though, that often they don't bother and put up with whatever it is that's wrong.
  • Excessive damage - if you have beautiful wooden flooring you would have most likely told them to have their lady friends with stilettos leave them at the door. But they may have ignored you. Something excessive like that would certainly fall under things that they would have to contribute to to rectify.

See the problem with a lot of these things is that they are all preventable, to some extent, if nipped in the bud. I have tenants that constantly need to be told not to leave a Niagara Falls type stream flowing from the tiled bathroom floor to the join with the hallway, because guess what - water will go down with gravity. It wasn't 6 months in until I got the call saying "there's a leak in the kitchen every time we take a shower." Low and behold they were just leaving puddles of water everywhere in the bathroom like it was the Brockwell Lido - no surprise that when I repeated some things that I said when they moved in the leak magically disappeared and I haven't heard from them since, probably out of embarrassment. But this brings another problem. As a landlord I always encourage communication with my tenants because I want to know about repairs. I WANT to be told every little thing that's wrong with the property. Simply because it's a lot simpler to stop things and fix things when they are small and not some massive unsightly thing that will prevent you from reletting the property next time around.

After all, who wants to rent a property off someone that doesn't look after it? Ultimately you are responsible for the fabric of the building, if you don't inspect your property (and your tenants' behaviour at the same time), then you are the only one to blame. If you wait until the day the tenants give notice then you can be in for an unpleasant surprise. And your agent will certainly tell you about things when the viewings start ploughing through, and with a lack of takers lining up for the place you'll be obliged to get the builders in to sort things, and guess who wants to rent a building site? Not many discerning tenants these days, so queue void.

So, save money in the long run, look after your property and do regular inspections. Whether you do it yourself or have your managing agent do it is up to you of course, as to how much time you have to devote to the matter. Certain is however, if you don't expend simple time/effort/money during the tenancy, you are more than likely to pay for it at the end.

As always I'm available on jeroen@claphampropertyblog.com if you're interested in running a deal past me. I'm always on hand with advice to help you make the most from your investment in Clapham, Brixton or further afield. 

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