Top 14 Tricks Tenants Play at Routine Inspections

Thursday, December 07, 2023


We all agree that the majority of our tenants will do the right thing at a rental property. But there are a select few who will want to hide behaviour that’s contrary to their lease conditions. That’s why we must conduct regular routine inspections.

And here we reveal those tricks they like to play, so you can be more observant when conducting these important inspections.

The key is to always have your ‘suspicion radar’ on when you do routines. You’ll be amazed at what you might genuinely notice if you’re looking out for bad behaviour. But assume everyone is doing the right thing, gloss over, and/or rush your inspections and are likely to miss something really obvious!

These tips and ideas were collected as part of a Facebook competition. We thank everyone that participated with their contributions.

Here are the TOP 14 tricks tenants play at routine inspections:

#1- We know what tomato plants look like!

Tenants do think property managers are blind to what a marijuana plant looks like! But stating they’re tomato plants does seem to suggest that they think we’re stupid! Also, hiding marijuana plants amongst tomato plants is another favourite!

#2- Hiding holes and damages.

Towels strategically hung, pot plants in the middle of the kitchen benchtops, calendars or posters placed in certain areas, curtains tied up, furniture or rugs moved awkwardly into unusual places to cover damage are the types of things to be watchful for.

#3- ‘Someone is sleeping, you can’t go in!’

Sure, this one may well be genuine with a shift worker or a baby, but sometimes you’ve got the reason to be suspicious when you hear ‘someone is sleeping in that room, you cannot go in’. Be suspicious when you feel you need to be, but don’t go walking into danger. Your safety must come first!

#4- Outside areas inaccessible.

Garage doors and sheds locked and not accessible need to be checked. Make sure you’ve stated on your inspection notice you must access all areas. And if they are not giving you access after you’ve made it clear you require it, start asking questions and come back to check those areas at another time. But don’t leave it for the next inspection. Again, your safety must come first if you’re overly suspicious as you could walk into a drug lab or hydro marijuana crop, or worse!

#5- Parking on lawns and gardens.

Tyre marks, dead patches in the shape of a car, and oil patches on lawns and gardens say the tenant may well be parking there.

#6- Is it an Airbnb special?

Personal photos not on the show. Is the property looking too neat and ‘too good to be true’? Take note, it may be used on Airbnb.

#7- Hiding kitty or woofy.

Suspicious the tenant is keeping unauthorised pets? Cat hair to the back of curtains and on the bottom of furniture, pet hair in curtain tracks, and even more obvious signs like pet smells, pet faeces, kitty litter, pet food bowls, toys, blankets, pets locked in cars, yellow urine stains to lawns, etc. all can tell a tale! Make sure you’re aware before you enter whether pets are authorised or not. If not, put on your suspicion radar and stay alert for the signs.

#8- But the kitty is just visiting!

Yep, that cat that is always ‘visiting’ at the routine inspection could well be the cat that lives there full time! Shock…horror!

#9- ‘Sorry, you can’t come today!’

Tenants that hound and are checking on your arrival times regularly, wanting to re-schedule and making claims like ‘we’ve got the flu’ or ‘my kids all have gastro’ could be true or could be diverting you from what they’re really up to. Following you around suspiciously at inspections and even calling you before the inspection stating ‘you can’t come today’ all need to be treated with suspicion and curiosity, but not overlooked. They could very well be conducting illegal activity. But then again, it could be genuine. Just be open to the possibility of both.

#10- Hiding other occupants.

Hiding mattresses under beds that are made with sheets/blankets could tell a tale of extra occupants living at the property. Start asking questions!

#11- Unusually high water usage.

Water usage seeming a bit high and the tenant has little to no interest in maintaining the garden. They could be growing ‘other things’ so be aware of any inaccessible areas as well as a garage, shed, or spare storage areas.

#12- Burning incense when you arrive.

Yep, whenever I arrived at the property for an inspection and the tenant has burning fresh incense, it was always to cover the smell of something else!

#13- Exhaust fan installation.

Exhaust fans are used to exhaust warm and moist air from places like the bathroom and kitchen areas. BUT there’s never a reason for a tenant to go and install an exhaust fan anywhere without permission. The only valid reason is that they need to exhaust warm air from hydro marijuana set up or fumes from a meth-lab. Use extreme caution if you see an unauthorised exhaust fan installed anywhere.

#14- Drug paraphernalia.

Yes, bongs, pipes, sophisticated drug scales plus many other drug warning signs could very indicate illegal activity and drug production. Make sure you’re aware but more importantly make sure you stay safe! If you reasonably suspect illegal activity is going on, just leave the property, inform your manager, the owner, and also the police.

Click here for 40 Warning Signs of Illicit Drug Production in Rental Properties.

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