finance

Sneaky tips for any renters sweating bullets about an upcoming inspection.

Unless you’re lucky enough to make the move straight from the family home to your own place, most of us will rent at some point during our lives. There are many up sides to renting, however when asked about the downsides, people will often cite inspections as being a major cause of stress and concern.

But this shouldn’t be the case. For a lot of people there is a fear that if the place doesn’t sparkle like Disney on Ice, you’ll all be booted out on to the street with no where to live. This isn’t really the case. But you do need to make an effort on inspection day to show the landlord that you want to stay. 

Here’s how to pass your inspection with flying colours, without ending up on stress leave.

1. Start early

The law in most states indicates that 24 hours notice needs to be given before an inspection can take place on a rental properly. But most agents and landlords will be a lot kinder to you, even telling you weeks before D-day.

Start preparing the property for the inspection as soon as you find out about it. By doing small incremental tasks you’ll save yourself the last minute freak out. 

2. First impressions count

Often we spend days (or weeks) freaking out about the inspection only to have the real estate agent breeze in and out in the space of ten minutes.

First impressions count.

Clear the front garden and porch. Clutter and piled up shoes by the front door don’t give a great first impression.

Listen: Selling Houses Australia host Andrew Winter discloses the mistakes we’re all making when it comes to selling our homes. Post continues after audio. 

 

3. Smell all the smells

On the morning of the inspection open all windows to air the place out. This gets rid of any musty smells that could be hanging around.

If you want to make the place smell even better you could obviously use air fresheners, candles or diffusers but often people associate strong smelling things with you trying to cover something up.

Instead you could use the old cookie baking trick (bake some 30 mins before the inspection) or even just microwave a cinnamon stick for 2 minutes in a mug of water. The fragrance is pleasant but not overpowering.

4. Clutter

The agent is not there to assess the state of your personal possessions but when they’re doing a quick look through often clutter makes everything seem much worse than it might actually be. If you look to take care of your things, chances are you’ll be taking care of the place too.

Use the inspection as an opportunity to clear away clutter from bathroom vanities, bench tops and anywhere else where junk has accumulated.

The real estate agent isn't looking at your personal belongings but clutter makes everything seem worse (istock)
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5. Accept responsibility

Accidents happen but if you have broken or damaged something in the property you need to accept responsibility and get it fixed - properly. Taping an A4 sheet of paper to a white wall is not really a proper solution to the hole your toddler put through it.

6. Treat the house as you would your own

Owners obviously use inspections to make sure that you are looking after their asset. Show that you want to stay by taking the time to tend to gardens, clean windows, spot clean carpets and remove marks off walls (I've found those chux magic eraser things to be incredible at removing wall marks) Anything you would do to your own property, do it there.

7. Pets

If you’re allowed pets at the property, you should still try and make arrangements for them to stay elsewhere on inspection day. People tend to look for damage more closely if there is a pet in the way and sometimes dogs can hamper the efficiency of the inspection by barking or wanting pats from strangers. Plus, Murphy’s law is that they will run through the house with muddy paws 5 minutes before the real estate agent is due to arrive- adding to your already high stress levels.

"Pretend I'm not here" (istock)

If you are bending the rules when it comes to pets (which of course you wouldn’t do, would you?) make sure to take extra care on inspection day. Sure, you may have found someone to mind Fluffy the cat for the day but the cat food on the bench, water bowl by the door and copy of ‘How to hide a cat in a rental property’ book on your bedside table give you away.

8. Clean as per your rental cleaning outline

When you first signed the rental agreement on the property you would have been given a report on the condition of the place. Use this as your cleaning guide because that’s exactly what your agent will be going off.

It includes things that we all forget when doing a once-over like dusting light fittings, cleaning the oven, wiping skirting boards etc.

9. Be present

If you’re able to be at the inspection you should try to be. It’s not only a chance to go through the place with your agent but it’s also the time to raise any issues with them that you might be having. It’s far easier to demonstrate a non working bathroom fan than it is to get them to return 10 missed calls about it when other priorities arise in the office.

Remember that the whole inspection is likely to only last a few minutes. You’re not expected to have the property in pristine condition, like new. All the owners and real estate agents want to see is that you are looking after the rental as you would your own place. Do it right once and it’s likely you wont have to deal with too many regular inspections.

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