In these times of social distancing, fulfilling your role as property manager can seem challenging. Work from home best practices can help you transition smoothly to the new normal as most work can be done digitally. But what about those that traditionally requires your physical presence, like routine inspections?
With the help of technology and a bit of creativity, even routine inspections can be done virtually. It’s a proactive approach that can keep you and your tenants safe, while also meeting your landlords needs in these uncertain times. Let’s take a look at the many ways you can conduct virtual inspections.
The low-tech option
A quick and easy way to get started is to use video conferencing applications like Zoom. Using this method for virtual inspections is fairly simple - it starts just like any video call, with the property manager directing the tenant to take photos as they go around the property. If you can't get both parties online at the same time, simply ask your tenant to take photos and send them to you. Including a checklist - like your own inspection checklist - for the tenant to fill out can also help. Just make sure you establish a template that everyone in your agency can follow to standardise the process and ensure that inspection best practices are followed.
Once you have your photos, videos, and/or checklist, simply upload these to your property management software or inspection app, and send the report to the property owner. A caveat is that there are obviously risks with a tenant conducting their own inspection, and including a disclaimer on the report such as ‘Inspection photos provided by the tenant due to the COVID-19 outbreak’ is a good idea. This is also a manual process that can take quite a lot of time without some tech to help you out.
That's where virtual inspections tools come in.
Using virtual inspection tools
A great way to do virtual inspections is to leverage the inspection app you're already using in your routine inspections. They tend to simplify the process, ensure compliance, and reduce double handling of information. In Property Tree, we integrate with various inspection software applications so you can choose which one works best for you. Here are their solutions to conducting virtual inspections:
Inspection Manager has launched Tenant Assisted Inspections which will allow property managers conduct contactless inspections by guiding tenants through a simple wizard sent through an email notification. To activate this feature, you need to make sure the in-built email system is properly set up on your account so your tenants can receive notifications and launch the wizard.
Inspection Express has been providing its users the capability to do paperless transactions to minimise unnecessary human contact when conducting inspections.
Entry inspections, for instance, can be conducted in isolation and sent to the new tenant to sign their key form acceptance, and complete and sign their Entry condition report all from the tenant's smart phone remotely.
For routine inspections, there's currently a "Remote Routine Inspection" feature that will utilise Paperless Condition Reports and Paperless Leases platforms to engage the tenant to complete a remote inspection. The tenant will be instructed to complete their inspection with guidelines within a timeframe. Once completed by the tenant you can review and send to property owner.
Users of Property Inspection Manager can choose from different options when it comes to conducting inspections during this time. One of their solutions is a tenant walkthrough using the PIM app. This provides tenants access to the PIM guest app and create up to 3 inspection reports for free – allowing them to take photos and add comments. The completed report can then be sent to the tenant and the property manager in DOC and PDF format. Plus, since the recent PIM release the inspection can be directly imported back into PIM on the property managers device. A key step in a successful walkthrough is providing your tenants detailed information on what you want them to capture, taking note of previous inspection reports.
Soon to be added to Property Tree’s roster of inspection apps is Property Realm’s Rental Property Self-Inspection app. Using the app, the property manager can send a request via email or SMS to tenants to do a self-inspection of the property. This request includes a dedicated link that leads the tenants to a web form to complete the inspection report, including attached photos which will then be submitted to the property manager.
We sat down with Realm CEO, Patrick Hill (virtually of course), to discuss the integration this week:
Coming soon: Inspections Plus in Property Tree
Property Tree users will soon have access to a new built-in inspections app as well, allowing them to conduct property inspections – remote or onsite - without signing in to a new app. Currently in development, Inspections Plus comes with a remote inspections feature that will allow property managers to video call tenants from within Property Tree and walk them through a virtual inspection of the property.
Property managers can then view the property clearly in real time, take photos remotely, and add comments with a checklist of items for the inspection shown on the same screen.
Plus, once we return to in-person insepctions it's easy to keep using video, as the property manager can record their own videos from within the app in a similar manner. For both inspection types, all video and any images taken are saved within Property Tree for easy look up - particularly useful if you need to go to tribunal.
And to make things even easier, you can create a maintenance job on any issues found during any inspection with just the click of a button, helping create a more streamlined and efficient inspection and maintenance process.
Check out the demo below:
More tips when you watch the webinar
To know more about dealing with COVID-19 as a property manager, watch the on-demand webinar in partnership with Inspired Growth Training in which we discuss more strategies to help you start taking control of your situation.