Regular property inspections are important. They're also an opportunity for landlords and tenants to keep in contact with each other.
Important COVID-19 information on inspections: At Alert Level 4, people should stay in their own homes and only essential businesses are running. This means that in-person inspections are only possible up to and including Alert Level 3. Inspections at Alert Level 3 must still maintain social distancing and comply with the Residential Tenancies Act.
Many insurers require landlords to do regular inspections. The Insurance Council of New Zealand (ICNZ) has recommended that if landlords can’t access their property to carry out regular three monthly inspections, the inspection should take place as soon as practical after health clearances.
Inspecting the property virtually may be an option; but landlords need to be careful not to interfere with tenants’ reasonable peace, comfort or privacy. Any virtual inspections should only happen if the landlord and tenants agree. We encourage tenants to work with the landlord to allow virtual inspections where possible. However, tenants have the right to refuse a virtual inspection.
Tenants can use the opportunity of a virtual inspection to let their landlord know about any maintenance needed on their property. However, tenants must be realistic about when non-urgent issues can be fixed during this time.
Landlords will need to comply with their obligations under the Privacy Act 1993 if they want to keep any footage or images. It’s a good idea to discuss this with your tenant when arranging a virtual inspection.
Landlords can enter the property for inspections
If you’re a landlord, it’s a good idea to regularly inspect your rental property. Inspections help you check everything’s working well, there’s no damage, and your tenants are keeping things reasonably clean and tidy. It’s also a good way to stay in touch with your tenants.
Your tenant doesn’t have to be present during inspections, but you should ask if they want to be. If the tenant isn’t going to be present, ask them to leave a note of any specific things they want you to look at. This can help alert you to any maintenance issues.
Always take a digital camera and the property inspection report you completed at the start of the tenancy (part of the tenancy agreement). You can refer to the report when asking the tenant about a repair or maintenance issue. Take photos in case the matter is disputed at a later date.
If you are taking any photos during an inspection, be careful not to include the tenant's belongings if this is possible.
Be courteous during property inspections – give the right notice, choose a suitable time and day, and encourage feedback. Always thank your tenant if they’re taking good care of your property.
Initial property inspection explains the importance of the first inspection of a tenancy.
48 hours’ notice is needed before an inspection or testing
Landlords must give tenants at least 48 hours’ notice before an inspection, or to test for meth contamination.
If you are testing for methamphetamine, you need to tell the tenant before you start.
You also need to provide them with the results in writing within seven days of getting them.
Rental properties affected by meth explains what to do if you suspect a property is being used as a P lab.
If a reinspection is required
If the landlord has agreed with the tenant that they will fix something or clean something by a certain date and they need to go back to make sure they have done it, the landlord can reinspect the property by giving the tenant the correct amount of notice (48 hours’ as above).