Why Rental Inspections Are Important: A Horror Story

Like many people in the real estate and property management industry, I own investment properties.  I have flipped homes and managed my own rentals throughout the greater Sacramento area for over 15 years.  A number of years back, I moved to Oregon for work, and decided I could manage my own property from there… 600 miles away… In another state.  As it turns out, that was a bad choice.

I thought I had the ideal tenants.  They rented one of my properties in South Sacramento for close to 10 years.  They always paid rent on time, and never called about repairs.  I thought it was the perfect situation.  I didn’t have to worry about anything.

A few months ago the truth was revealed, and my nightmare began.  After 10 years, the tenants mailed me the keys with a note saying they had already moved out.  They didn’t leave any forwarding address or any reason for moving.  The note stated they had cleaned up the best they could but had left some belongings behind.  This was a gross understatement.

As soon as I was able, I went to the home to access the damage (still believing this would be a quick turnover).  Everything in the front yard seemed in order.  The trees were pretty overgrown, and the limbs were draped all over the rooftop.  I thought to myself, “So, the trees need trimming.  Nothing alarming.”  Then I entered the home.  The smell of cat urine hit me first and was so strong it made me gag.  The odor was so powerful you couldn’t even smell the cigarette smoke that had stained the walls, ceiling, carpet, and blinds.  It was unreal.  There was junk everywhere.  It was like an episode of hoarders.  The kitchen counters and sink were piled with dirty dishes.  The oven still had food rotting away inside.  The laundry room wall was wasting away from some sort of water damage.  The bathroom vanity was crumbling to pieces while the shower knobs no longer worked and maybe hadn’t worked in months, or even years.  There were three mattresses piled on top of each other in one of the bedrooms.  The mattresses looked as if rats and chewed their way inside and made a home for themselves.  I had never seen anything like this.  I didn’t know humans could live like this.  Why had I not seen the inside of my own house in 10 years?!?!

I consider myself an experienced veteran in this business.  I have worked in and around real estate investment and property management for over 15 years.  I grew up around it.  My parents owned residential rental properties and vacation rentals.  I never thought a situation like this would happen to me.  I am now looking at $10,000 to $15,000 in repairs just to get the home in a habitable condition.  This all could have been avoided had I hired a professional property management company or at least had someone walk the property for me every 90 days.

Inspections can be a vital tool in making sure your investment is being properly cared for.  Quarterly inspections, at the very least, are a perfect opportunity to change out air filters to protect your HVAC system, and make sure all of the smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are in proper working order.  You might find there are pets living at the property that were never approved.  Dogs on the aggressive breed list, such as a pit bull, can be a terrible insurance liability.  You might discover something as simple as a small water leak. Had the issue been found in my case, it could have been repaired for a few dollars. Instead, the issue was ignored, and I am left with thousands of dollars in damage.

There are a plethora of issues that can be found during a routine inspection. If these issues are caught early enough, you can save thousands of dollars in damage. Isn’t knowing your rental property is being taken care of and having peace of mind enough reason to inspect the home regularly?

Hopefully, you can learn from my mistake and realize that routine inspections of your real estate investment are of the utmost importance.  Real Property Management Select provides this service at an affordable price, and all inspections are performed by professional technicians.  RPM offers quarterly, semi-annual, and annual inspections.

If you are trying to manage your property from out of state, or if you are simply busy living your every-day-life, give Real Property Management Select a call and speak to a professional property manager.