Property condition reports can seem tedious, boring even.
But they’re a crucial part of any tenancy for both landlords and tenants. Done right, they can save tenants and landlords some serious headaches and cash.
We spoke to Jan Christensen who looks after Rentwest’s property condition reports about why they’re so important, and what landlords and tenants need to know about them.
Jan joined the Rentwest team five years ago in an administrative and reception role. Jan already had over 15 years of experience in the property management industry, and we quickly realised she was known for her meticulous level of detail, which was well-suited to managing our property condition reports.
Jan, some of your property condition reports contain more than 16 pages of text and up to a record-breaking 800 photos! Tell us more about what a property condition report is and why they need to be so detailed?
As the name suggests, property condition reports are a set form that documents the condition of the rental property when the tenancy begins. We use text and images, sometimes video too.
Legally, we have to give copies of the property condition report to the tenant within 7 days of them taking possession of the rental property. The tenant is required to check it, and return it to us with any comments or additions within the week.
When a tenant moves out, we do an end of lease inspection and the condition of the property at that time will be compared to the original property condition report. We then check if any damage has occurred, beyond fair wear and tear, and update the report and make any amendments to the report for the next tenancy. Assuming there’s no major damage, we then return the bond to the tenant.
How important are these reports?
Very! But property condition reports are not just important, they’re also compulsory. They’re really valuable to both tenants and landlords because they may be used as evidence if there is a dispute about the condition of the property or the return of the bond.
We also use them to let landlords know if they need to look at updating or fixing any parts of the property.
How does Rentwest do things differently when it comes to property condition reports?
We like to be very thorough when it comes to property condition reports – that’s why we take so many photos! We have to use a prescribed form and it’s all done in a set format. We use cloud-based software called Inspection Express to document and store it all.
Property condition reports have certainly changed over the years. Better technology and digital photos and cloud storage has meant they can be more descriptive and comprehensive than they used to be.
We often inherit properties that have been managed by other companies, and I’ve seen some pretty awful reports that are very vague. For example, the photos cover a lot of stuff, but if the report doesn’t explicitly say what colour the walls are, that leaves it open for the tenant to paint them a different colour. We go into a lot of detail because it protects both the tenant and the landlord.
Why are property condition reports important for property owners and landlords?
These reports give owners a current snapshot of the state of the property. They also show what’s wearing out or damaged.
And how well the report is documented and photographed can be the difference in the owner being able to claim any damages or cleaning at the end of a tenancy.
These reports can highlight areas of maintenance that may not have been picked up during standard inspections.
We also use these reports to highlight to owners when a property is due for a freshen up or improvement to maintain its capital value, rental value and remain competitive in the wider rental market. For example, we may suggest that the flyscreens need repairing, or the carpet should be replaced, or the paint needs a freshen up due to standard wear and tear.
And why should tenants pay attention to the property condition report?
From the tenant’s perspective, a well written and well-documented condition report really protects them. It’s important that tenants read and engage with the report and return it to the property manager on time with any comments. Getting their bond back depends on it. So if they don’t scrutinise it going into a tenancy, and make sure that it adequately reflects the property’s condition they can run into trouble when the tenancy ends. It really is in the tenant’s interest to make sure they go through it thoroughly.
Any tips for renters filling out a property condition report?
It is super important to complete the property condition report accurately. It’s your record of the state the property was in when you leased it, so you really want to know that it’s correct and up to date.
These days it’s the photos that count. Be thorough, and take lots of photos to cover every base.
What misconceptions do people have about property condition reports?
A lot of tenants can be put off because they can be lengthy. They’re moving in and think it’s too long to bother with, or they just assume it will all be ok. They may not realise just how important it is and not give it the attention it requires.
The flipside is that some people want to rewrite it and essentially duplicate the whole thing in their own words.
We understand that it can be a source of stress for some tenants, but if they’ve ever rented before they’d know how important it is when they vacate.
What about advice for tenants wanting to get their bond back?
It’s pretty simple – clean your property. Leave it exactly as you found it and there will be no problem. Plus, if you report any damage and maintenance during your tenancy, as it arises, it creates far fewer issues than leaving it until the end.
If you have any questions about PCRs contact our team of experienced property managers today.