10 things to check in a DIY rental property inspection

Posted By: Phil Schaller Maintenance ,

Conducting an informational inspection/walkthrough of your rental property is important periodically - we recommend at least once a year. It allows you to understand the state of your property, troubleshoot for larger issues, plan some preventative maintenance and also build trust with your tenants.

While there are hundreds of items you could inspect in a walkthrough, we’re going to focus on the low hanging fruit and most important boxes to check. Before we get into the list, here’s a few pointers:

  • Schedule this walkthrough far in advance with your tenants - they’ll keep this on the radar and (hopefully) focus on keeping the property in good shape. Washington state also requires at least 48 hours written notice before anyone enters the dwelling.
  • Communicate to your tenants why you’re conducting this walkthrough. You want to know what’s going on with the property but you also want to make sure you’re providing a hospitable environment for your tenants.
  • We recommend conducting these walkthroughs with a general contractor or maintenance pro (RentalRiff can help) as an unbiased 3rd party and someone who can easily diagnose/fix certain issues.

Without further ado, here we go:

  1. Replace furnace filters
    ○ This is an easy one. You’ll need a filter on hand but it’s easy and not expensive.  Replacing a broken furnace, on the other hand, is very expensive.
  2. Replace smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries
    ○ Another easy one that is a critical safety tool. Aside from the liability you’ll have on your hands if these alarms don’t work during an emergency, let’s keep everyone safe!
  3. Clean out dryer vents
    ○ While cleaning out a dryer vent may require slightly more elbow grease than changing batteries, it’s another important safety precaution. If your dryer can’t ventilate two things can happen: your dryer breaks ($$$) or, much worse, a fire can start.
  4. Switch the GFIs
    ○ We can’t tell you how many calls we get for electrical work that can be solved with the push of a button. Get ahead of these issues by switching the GFI for your tenants.
  5. Run water and check for leaks under the sinks
    ○ An easy way to do this is to turn on the water and throw a baking pan under the plumbing to see if any liquid is captured.  Sometimes leaks can be small but they can cause serious damage.
  6. Turn on all appliances
    ○ Checking to see that appliances are in good working order is definitely helpful. Appliances are expensive and that weird sound your dishwasher is making may indicate a new one is in your future.
  7. Run the garbage disposal
    ○ The number one maintenance request landlords receive is for garbage disposals. We recommend giving them a tighten with an allen wrench and/or a reset. Olive pits love giving landlords a headache.
  8. Test the heating and air conditioning
    ○ You’re required as a landlord to provide a humane environment for your tenants - this means a livable temperature. We like to turn the AC on full blast to check, then switch to heat - easy to inspect other items while checking these systems.
  9. Inspect crawl spaces and attics
    ○ Pests and water damage love the areas of your property where people don’t hang out. Pretty easy to spot both (poop and water marks) and if left untreated can cause big problems.
  10. Check ceilings, walls, floors, doors and windows
    ○ Alright so we crammed a few into #10 here but they’re all important. Any sign of water damage (especially here in the PNW) is a big red flag and requires an immediate solution. Walls/ceilings/floors are expensive fixes.


These walkthroughs are included with our service and many of our customers will schedule several throughout the year (based on the tenants and condition of the property). RHA members also receive the first month of RentalRiff free - https://www.rentalriff.com/contact-us.

If you have any questions on how to conduct these informal walkthroughs yourself we’re happy to chat or provide some more insight.

RentalRiff is an alternative service to traditional property management. Your dedicated RentalRiff Property Specialist will provide ongoing oversight and upkeep of your rental property, while serving as the main point of contact for your tenants. Maintenance and repair costs are
included and Property Specialists are licensed/insured. Better, more personal service all for a fraction of the cost of traditional property management.