Landlord Property Inspection Guide & Notice Template

Landlord Property Inspection

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Property inspections, they’re a necessary evil, that’s for sure.

On one hand, they’re incredibly useful and crucial, because they allow landlords to spot any problems with the property, but on the other hand, they can be a right pain in the arse to orchestrate, and often be the moment when you realise your tenant isn’t keeping to their end of the bargain by taking care of your beloved investment. That’s when it can be particularly evil. Of course, there have been times when I’ve been blown away by the outstanding condition my property has been kept in. I like those moments.

What is a property inspection?

Let’s start with the basics.

The primary purpose of an inspection is to evaluate the overall condition of the property; specifically to check if everything is in good working order and reasonable state, both the interior and exterior. It’s also the perfect opportunity to ensure your tenants are behaving themselves, and not living like primates.

Inspections are typically conducted on a quarterly basis, but often reduced to bi-yearly after frequent positive inspections to the same property/tenants.

While it’s important to make regularly inspections, it’s as equally important not to make too many inspections (e.g. once a month), because it could be deemed as harassment. In most cases, there isn’t a reason to make so many inspections, unless there are genuine repairs and maintenance issues that need attention.

If the tenant feels like you’re making unnecessary visits too frequently, they could file a complaint.

Inspection notice

Let’s cover some of the basic law so you know where you stand.

The Landlord and Tenant Act 1985 s11 gives the landlord the right to enter the premises to view the “condition and state of repair”.

This is the exact legislation:

In a lease in which the lessor’s repairing covenant is implied there is also implied a covenant by the lessee that the lessor, or any person authorised by him in writing, may at reasonable times of the day and on giving 24 hours’ notice in writing to the occupier, enter the premises comprised in the lease for the purpose of viewing their condition and state of repair.

Blah, blah, blah.

God damn, I wish they would write it in plain English- seriously, no one normal is going to understand that, right? Right. In any case, in normal human talk…

  • The inspection must be conducted at “reasonable times of the day”
  • The landlord/agent must give 24 hours written notice (you can download an example of a notice letter at the bottom of this blog post)
  • If someone other than the landlord or agent is going to do the inspection, then that person should be authorised in writing

Why inspections are necessary and required

This is mostly common sense, but some of my points may make for some “oh yeaaah” moments. Or they may not. Either way, here’s a list of reasons why inspections are necessary and often required…

  • Opportunity to spot any repairs & maintenance issues
    Obviously this is the primary objective, to spot any obvious cries for attention.

    But more crucially, it’s the perfect opportunity to repair any minor problems before they spiral out of control and become major repairs and money pits. It’s always easier and cheaper to repair problems at their early stages. Something simple as a small leak can transform into a catastrophic disaster if it’s neglected for long enough.

    It’s also worth noting that relying on tenants alone to report potential problems can be a recipe for disaster, because they often won’t. Granted, most tenants will report serious issues, but many won’t report the little ones until it’s too late… and expensive to repair. So annoying.

    Moreover, through no fault of your tenants, it’s often easy to be completely unaware of potential problems. For example, your tenant might be accustom to the smell of dampness, however, you might notice it as soon as you walk through the front door. A set of fresh eyes, ears and nose is extremely useful for picking out minor problems at their early stages.

  • Assess tenants’ living conditions
    While the condition of the property might be generally sound, it doesn’t necessarily mean your tenants are keeping the property in good order. If that’s the case, you may not have legal grounds to evict, but you may want to consider whether or not you wish to renew the tenancy when the fixed term comes to an end.
  • Spot illegal activities
    Unfortunately, it’s easy to slip into a mindset of a lazy relaxed landlord when money is coming in on time, every time. But complacency can be a dangerous trap.

    The reality is, some of the most destructive tenants are the best payers because they want to keep their landlord away from the property so they can conduct illegal activities (e.g. there have been an increasing amount of cases where tenants have transformed BTL properties into cannabis farms). So I urge landlords not to assume the best tenants come packaged as just timely payers.

  • Helps build a relation with your tenants
    Not enough landlords value the relationship with their tenant. They should though, because it can be the key to a profitable and stress-free relationship. There’s a lot to be said about a good tenant/landlord relationship- it makes everything easier, including the arrangement of inspections and repairs.

    Inspections are a perfect opportunity to simply “catch-up” with your tenant and discuss life in general.

    Tenants are less likely to pick up and move if they’re happy with their landlord, which ultimately equals long-term, reliable tenants.

  • New tenants & viewings
    It’s common practise for landlords to conduct an inspection before they start taking viewings with new prospective tenants before the current tenants are due to vacate (for whatever reason). It makes sense, as the landlord will want to ensure the property is presentable.

What you should be looking for during inspections

This can be quite subjective, and it really depends on how thorough you want to be.

I’m not overly thorough, I don’t go around on my knees with a magnifying glass, but over the years I generally know which areas to check in particular, beyond the general condition of the interior and exterior of the property…

  • Dampness & mould
    Mould and dampness in a BTL is one of the main areas I focus on during my inspections, because they’re often overlooked.

    From my experience, most tenants ‘just live it’, the mould that is, because they don’t realise how dangerous and serious mould infestations can be. I always look around the windows and sinks, and pay special attention in rooms prone to moisture, such the bathrooms and kitchen. I also check all the pipe work hidden away in kitchen units.

    It’s also worth checking the extractor fans to ensure they’re all working and not clogged up with dirt, this will help prevent mould infestations occurring in the future.

  • Leaks
    I run all the taps and check for any leaks. Leaks can be one of the primary causes of mould infestations and rot.

    It’s also worth checking the drainage outside for blockages and ensuring water is not overflowing.

    I once had stupid tenants that used to dispose of their cooking oil by pouring it down the sink. It eventually caused a blockage in the outside drain- water was visibly overflowing every time they run the kitchen tap, but of course they never reported the problem. Why would they?

    Fortunately I spotted the problem during an inspection and called Dynorod the next day to clear up the mess. Needless to say, the money was taken from their security deposit. Fools.

  • General condition of fittings
    I always give a patient once over all the fittings, including toilets, white goods and everything else that I provided with the property.
  • Condition of garden
    Generally speaking, most tenancy agreements do come with clauses specifying that it’s the tenant’s responsibly to maintain the garden(s).

    So I just check that the garden is neat and isn’t overgrowing. I also check for pile-ups of rubbish, because they can attract nasty rodents and other unwanted wildlife.

  • Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
    Very important to check all smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.

    It’s also worth noting that smoke alarms often get clogged with dust/dirt, so it’s worth opening them up and giving them a quick clean and puff-puff.

  • Lofts & attics
    None of my properties actually have attics, but they do have lofts.

    I ALWAYS have a quick snoop around with a torch, looking for any leaks, holes and/or rodents. I’ve been lucky so far (*touches wood*), but I’ve heard of some nasty stories involving rats the size of donkeys.

A common dilemma with inspections is that there can be a very fine line between ‘fair wear and tear’ and ‘damage’. I’m sure most of you already know, landlords can’t make tenants liable for fair wear and tear, only damage. So it’s important to recognise the difference during your inspections, otherwise you may end up making your tenants wrongfully responsible for certain repairs. For more information, he’s a more in-depth blog post on wear and tear in rental properties. Enjoy.

Letting agents & inspections

For those of you that use letting agents to manage your properties, the general practise is for them to conduct the inspections. Actually, I’d be very confused and angry if it wasn’t part of the deal. Inspections are a major part of ‘managing’, so it would be mind-boggling if it wasn’t. But then again, we are talking about agents here..

It has to be said, that from my experience, while agents usually say it’s part of the service, many of them don’t actually conduct inspections. They just say they do.

So my advice is to make sure they actually do the inspections and to actually get proof, after all you’re probably paying for the service. Most agents will use scoresheets to help record the condition of the property and note down any problems.

Inspection clauses in Tenancy Agreements

Most tenancy agreements will have ‘inspection clauses’ specifying that the landlord has permission to access the premises to conduct an inspection. For example, here are the clauses which are found in the tenancy agreements available from this website (and the one I personally use):

12.2 The Landlord reserves the right to enter the Property at any reasonable time on giving not less than 24 hours’ prior notice to the Tenant:
12.2.1 to inspect the condition and state of repair of the Property;
12.2.2 to carry out the Landlord’s obligations under this agreement;

However, in my opinion, I don’t believe the clauses are actually required, because under Section 11 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1985, it states that it is the landlord’s legal obligation to:

  • keep the structure and exterior of the property in good repair, including drains, gutters and external pipes
  • keep installations for the supply of water, gas, electricity and sanitation in good repair and proper working order
  • keep installations for space heating and water heating in good repair and proper working order

In any case, the inspection clauses are usually in all tenancy agreements and I wouldn’t use one without them, just in case.

When the tenant refuses entry

This can be tricky and terrifying.

An inspection can feel quite intrusive and often tenants don’t feel comfortable with strangers walking around their home. So it’s easy to understand why they might be reluctant to allow entry. Of course, they may also be refusing entry to hide sinister activities, which is definitely a more worrying prospect.

But what does the law say about the issue? Under Common Law, all tenants are entitled to live in “quiet enjoyment”, which essentially means the landlord /agent (or anyone on behalf of either) must ask the tenant’s permission before entering the premises. But what if permission is asked and it is refused, even when the landlord/agent is willing to arrange for a suitable time for the tenant?

From my understanding, the landlord or agent cannot enter the premises without permission- asking for it alone is not enough, the tenant must agree. If the landlord or agent enter without permission it could be deemed as trespassing and harassment. I believe the only exception for ‘forceful entry’ is if there is an emergency. Section 11 says that if there is an emergency the landlord can enter without permission, which I’m assuming is something like a heavily leaking/burst water pipe or fire. Kind of ironic actually, because one could argue that the inspections are designed to prevent ’emergencies’.

It’s also worth noting that if the tenant refuses entry, and as a direct consequence the property is in worse repair at the end of the tenancy (because the landlord wasn’t given access to assess the condition and state of repair), the landlord may be able to claim against the deposit.

Finally, if the tenant does unequivocally refuse access you may want to consider whether or not you wish to renew the tenancy when the fixed term comes to an end. I would personally serve a Section 21 possession notice, so they have to vacate at the end of the tenancy,

For more information on this matter, please go to my blog post about tenants refusing entry.

Communicate and be respectful

I want to end this blog post by highlighting the importance of communication and respect. Ultimately, valuing your tenants. Good tenants will make or break your profit margins. Rightly or wrongly so, they hold the key to YOUR success.

It’s important for you to appreciate your tenant’s right to live in quiet enjoyment, along with understanding that your property is their home. They are paying for that privilege.

In most cases, tenants will be more than happy to accommodate inspections, but only if it’s done with courtesy. Don’t just assume you have a right to enter the property, you don’t, so respectfully ask for permission. Be generous and flexible with your time and make sure it’s convenient for all parties.









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27 Comments- Join The Conversation...

Guest Avatar
Carol 13th January, 2013 @ 02:40

I have a tenent who rents a room from me in my house there are not locks on the doors, I went into his room today as he gone out yet again and left his bed from window open as I suspect he was still smoking in his room after me reminding him this was not permitted verbally and in writing, then to my horror things got ten times worse, as shutting the window I noticed all the ash scattered every where looked to my right and there was drug paraphernalia all over the table a spoon, wraps, white powder and all figures of ammounts of money written on a pad under it I had my suspicions he was taking drug but now I knew he is dealing in drugs what should I do I have taken photos. But don't know what to do for the best next, I approached him about it he got all defensive, I told him if he could not comply to simple house rule and the law of the land then he would have to get out. Then with in two minutes of speaking with him he had gone out the house four times within the space of twenty minutes and had one guy back to the house who only stayed ten minutes obviously all drug deals!! He then went out again, so I decided to take a further look in his room I only needed to open on draw and the everdiance was tremendous, per-made wraps an ash tray full go butts and a wad of cash. I then approached one of my other tenents and she told me he had admitted to her he was now not only taking drugs but also selling them. Please help me I do not want my door smashed in by the police, or someone coming in to rob my home to get his stash not fair on me or my other two house mates.

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Guest Avatar
l davies 5th October, 2015 @ 15:25

my letting agent does a weekly inspection which i find very itrusive and she says things
the windows need cleaning the floor needs hovering the grass needs cutting

its driving me mad

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 5th October, 2015 @ 15:32

@l davies

Weekly inspection?!?

That's definitely excessive, and it seems like harassment.

You do have a right to refuse entry!

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Laura 12th October, 2015 @ 12:30

Me and my partner work nights, can we refuse to have an inspection done in the middle of the day? For us this is an unreasonable time of day as we are always asleep. We have no problem with an inspection early morning (or evening if it's absolutely necessary) but we have had trouble with some landlords not agreeing to this.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 12th October, 2015 @ 13:19

@Laura
In my opinion, it sounds unreasonable to refuse.

All you need to do is disturb your sleeping-pattern for ONE day, for an inspection which will realistically take no longer than 30 minutes. Is that really too much to ask?

I'm sure you don't go undisturbed for other tasks ALL year round during your precious sleeping period (which is during the day).

Sounds like you're being difficult for no real reason. As said, just my opinion.

But yes, you can refuse :/

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Baezo Lettings 14th October, 2015 @ 12:50

@ Davis, As an agent, I am quite shocked that you have been having weekly inspections. We inspect properties quarterly, simply because we believe a tenant's private life needs to be respected.

If an inventory is carried out prior to moving in and a reasonable amount of deposit is paid followed by appropriate checks of tenant background and a signed document that shows they read and understand the 'End of Tenancy Form' then I see no reason why this weekly check is required.

We advice you read your contract before refusing visits as this might backfire at the end of your tenancy.

Goodluck!!!

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Guest Avatar
rita 18th January, 2016 @ 09:17

Hi,

Does the tenant have legal right to insist upon being present at the an inspection? My landlord has requested one, by an external authority and the agency will be here to represent her, so I want to be present too. Do I have the right for this demand and how does it work with arranging for a convenient time for every party?

Thank you for your help

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th January, 2016 @ 10:18

@Rita,
Well, I don't think there is a legal right per'se. However, since no one can enter the property without your permission, you can allow entry while you're only present...

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Victoria 4th February, 2016 @ 11:14

Hi,
Little History; decided to let out our house instead of selling brother in law and girl friend wanted it, what could be better??

Foolishly didn't make a list of what was in the property or take photos after all it was my brother in law.

After causing damage to the property we have asked them to leave we now found out he isn't legally living there the rent is paid by the dole as if she is a single mum.

She is now refusing to move out we have issued a sec 21 and she is on a roiling tenancy. She was given two and a half months notice. She also claims the damage was done before she moved in.

Help please

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Guest Avatar
Robko 8th March, 2016 @ 23:33

Once the notice expires complete N5b form and submit the possession claim. So long as your notice is not defective and you have a valid AST, you should have no problems.

Any problems let me know.

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Johnno 18th March, 2016 @ 16:38

So you're saying that if a tennant who enforces his right to want to an inspection at a mutually convenient time they should be served an eviction notice.

You are a fucking cock.

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The Landlord Avatar
The Landlord 18th March, 2016 @ 17:08

@Johnno
Who said that and where?

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Guest Avatar
Clem 6th April, 2016 @ 21:37

Hello
for an inspection are they allowed to convert my room into a living room? And remove all my belonging Just for the landlord inspection?

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Jason 26th April, 2016 @ 17:36

@Clem - it sounds like they are subletting your room, especially if your things get moved when the landlord comes round. I assume you live in a HMO (house of multiple occupancy), do you have a lock on your door and do you have a tenancy agreement?

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Tracy 5th May, 2016 @ 14:48

In answer to comment 5 how would you like to work nights and be woken up at midday ??? Have you ever tried to get back to sleep after being woken up after a hard night shift ? Obviously not! Try doing a few night shifts and then let someone bang on your door midday then get back to sleep for a shift that night.
And comment 11 well done you I couldn't of put your last sentence better myself

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Ronnie J 20th May, 2016 @ 20:54

My tenants gave notice because one is incapacitated & hospitalized (her other daughter & sister are moving her out). Her co-tenant was her son-in-law (SIL) [his wife/her daughter passed away during tenancy and he remained] is also leaving. I notified everyone of the pre inspection, SIL attended. I don't find anything in the California Civil Code or handbook that says any tenant must attend a final walk through. I scheduled one and told them about it, trying to be helpful to everyone due to her illness. But SIL doesn't want to attend. Am I correct that they do not need to be present during a final walk through and I can cancel it with just him? She's not responded about the pre inspection.

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Andy B 11th July, 2016 @ 21:43

Me and my partner just moved into a property, and less than two weeks later our new letting agent is already asking to visit the property for a "standard periodic inspection", even though there was nothing in our lease about such an inspection. We're still busy unpacking, what possible use would an inspection be at this point? <_<

They also failed to create/issue an inventory (We took timestamped photos when we moved in), and the inspection dates sheet they gave us in the tenant's welcome pack was blank and unsigned.

Has anybody else experiencing something like this before? ...

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Simon Pambin 12th July, 2016 @ 12:32

Two weeks is a bit soon but it's not unusual to have an inspection early on, to check that the tenants have settled in and haven't started trashing the place. Given the agents' failure to do a proper check-in, if I were you I'd treat it as an opportunity to get the condition of the property documented: get them to sign a copy of your photographs and any notes at this early stage so that you don't find yourself arguing the toss over whether that mark on the wall was there when you moved in.

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Donna 29th July, 2016 @ 05:06

I have a question--- WE had a notice that Orkin was coming on Wed. to inspect but it didn't say what time he was coming ! I don't sleep well/ I only go to bed at around 5am and I guess that he and the apt. building manager entered my apt around 9am/ I was in bed and when you come in the apt you can see right into the bedroom. The manager left that man come into my apt while I was in bed sleeping and I didn't have covers ! It was embarrassing and I think it was a break in my rights of privacy. I mean; what if I didn't have any clothing on ! I didn't hear anyone knock or holler in the door or I would have heard then What can I do about that I do have rights !!!!!!

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Laura 30th July, 2016 @ 12:26

If they let you know and you didn't answer the door I'm not sure you can do anything. In our tenancy agreement it says they will enter our house for an inspection if we aren't home or don't answer the door. I'm guessing yours says something like that too and if you signed it then you gave them permission. Have you tried talking to them and saying you were uncomfortable with that happening and asking them to arrange a specific time or to call you when they are there next time? We work nights and when they give us a whole day as a time frame we always call and ask for our inspections to be early morning. They are always happy to come when we ask.

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Odette 24th September, 2016 @ 22:52

"In our tenancy agreement it says they will enter our house for an inspection if we aren't home or don't answer the door."

Its just simple means that this tenancy agreement is illegal :))))

if you sign agreement that somebody can rape you every monday , do you think that he has right rape you every monday ?????

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Lee 6th October, 2016 @ 11:48

These inspections need to stop if we all as tennents come together and refuse on mass in the millions then they will have to stop these home invasions they are a cruel reminder that you dont own your own house and its still theres since these intrusive attacks on our lives started i cannot settle in any property i rent. All propertys should be owned by the goverment these landlords think they are something else they look up and down on you i have fought and fought these nazi scum for years now and won on a number of occasions i just feel for the vunerable how are they treating them i send my child away everytime these nazis come round i just dont want him to feel the humilliation we feel in the end i will always move out with my deposit in hand fuck them up for a few weeks not letting them in then i move giving them weeks of no rent its great please if anyone reading this can do the same to these scum landlords it will soon stop then we can rent and live in peace!

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Lee 6th October, 2016 @ 12:01

I am responding to the people who have had landlords come into there propertys without being told to why dont you get yourselves a big machette (that you use for gardening chopping stems ect) you could run at them and whack them as hard as you can right in the face mistakingly taking them for a buglar you can attack a burgler so why not an invading landlord mine has not come into my house without telling me or i would attack them with no question i have an acute anxiety just reading these comments you could just attack them as if they were a burglar it is legal now how did you know they were a landlord when your woken from your sleep come on this is a dangerous game i am sick of these nazis landlord checks will soon stop or the rental market will have to they need to stop treating us all as if we are unemployed chavies my landlord costs us as a family around £150 everytime they check us because of work and childminders they are the ultimate scum of this earth

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Lee 6th October, 2016 @ 12:23

1st comment by carol is an unbelievable lie just to justify these nazis to come in your house no drug dealer on this planet would carry on if you confronted them about finding drugs come on who would be so stupid what a load of shite

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Tim 4th November, 2016 @ 17:54

Oh dear!

After reading Lee's comments (above) I can see why the Landlords pre-tenancy checks are essential.

Imagine being saddled with that as a tenant!?!

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Fabian 19th January, 2017 @ 14:21

'I want to end this blog post by highlighting the importance of communication and respect. Ultimately, valuing your tenants.'

If you truly want to value and respect your tenants, you might want
consider if suggesting they could be 'living like primates' is treating them with dignity and respect. Just sayin'

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Guest Avatar
Fabian 19th January, 2017 @ 14:56

*to consider

You might also want to bear in mind not only the Human Rights Act, but the Equality Act 2010. Our previous Letting Agent sent a letter stating they would be carrying out an inspection and gave the date and time. The letter never arrived and unfortunately, they got their dates wrong. It was a month early, so we were taken completely by surprise. I am disabled and I was using the toilet (with the door open as I was on my own) when the Letting Agent just let himself in with a key. I thought he was a burglar who had stolen the key and I was in a very compromising position. I had to call out in a panic that I was in the bathroom and get him to wait in the hallway because I couldn't reach to shut the door. I was so humiliated. A reasonable adjustment would have been the courtesy of a phone call. I have never refused an inspection. I might have had to negotiate day and time so it didn't clash with hospital visits (and I could ensure the property was spotless), but I've never refused. They did call after that, but it still causes me a lot of anxiety even though it was 4 years ago. I have a cardiac aneurysm so it's actually dangerous.

Please don't go in with the attitude that we are difficult and we live like primates. And you know what's more 'tricky and terrifying' than you being denied entry? The stress caused by the knowledge that you think we're beneath you and you can decide on a whim at the end of the inspection to make us homeless. We really want to work with you, not against, so please treat us with dignity and respect. Everyone feels uncomfortable with strangers walking around their home, but what we feel during an inspection goes far beyond this. Even when we know we've done nothing wrong and everything right, there's so much riding on it that it can still induce a state of near panic. This is not guilt because we're doing something wrong, it's a fear of losing our home. If you could reassure your tenants and tell them it's not your intention to make them homeless and you want to work with them as a team, they will be less likely to panic and refuse entry. They won't then worry because there's washing up in the sink. I've delayed inspections so that I can get the property spring cleaned from top to bottom and shampoo the carpets. None of this was necessary, I was just scared. My anxiety levels ramped up as soon as we were given an inspection date and only ever subsided at the end of the inspection when the Letting Agent said she was happy.

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