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Should Renters Get a Home Inspection?

Crofton Real Estate Q&A

Q.  Should I get a home inspection before moving into a Crofton rental property?  I’m concerned about safety issues and hidden defects.

A.  Frankly, a home inspection for rentals isn’t customary in this area… but it’s probably a good idea.  Here’s why I say that…

The typical rental move-in checklist deals primarily with cosmetic issues:  The carpet, walls, windows…  But what about the things you can’t see?  These are the things a home inspection would disclose. 

Home inspection - istockphoto.com

Wouldn’t you like to know before moving into the property if some of the electrical outlets aren’t grounded?  What if there’s an open electrical junction box in the attic?  If the roof leaks or basement floods?  Does the furnace have a cracked heat exchanger?  Is there aluminum wiring and, if so, are there any safety precautions the tenant should take?  Would you recognize a wood-destroying insect if you saw it?  Was the deck built well enough to hold the 30 people expected to attend your son’s graduation party?

A home inspection usually costs about $250-$300 in the Crofton area, but that could be a small investment in your family’s safety. 

If a home inspection indicates any compelling safety issues, you should ask the landlord to correct them before you move in.  You can (and should) still make a record of cosmetic discrepancies, which you can identify on your own, but there’s more to property condition than cosmetics.

If you’d like me to provide contact info for 2 or 3 local home inspection companies, let me know as soon as possible because it may be a few days before they can fit you into their schedule.  Then, if they find anything you want to report to the landlord, you may need a few days to negotiate requested repairs.

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Maybe a home inspection SHOULD be customary for rentals…  Perhaps a landlord should get one before listing his property for rent.  That wouldn’t be a bad risk-management strategy for landlords.

There’s no simple answer to the question about whether a renter should get a home inspection.  Or… perhaps there is. 

Many thanks to the renter who asked this question and inspired me to consider this issue.  I am going to start offering a home inspection to my rental clients and landlords.

Copyright 2006-11.  All rights reserved.

DISCLAIMER: Information contained in this post is deemed reliable on the date of publication, but it is not guaranteed and it is subject to change without notice.
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Margaret Woda, Crofton REALTORFor additional information about real estate and communities in the triangle formed by D.C., Baltimore and Annapolis, Maryland, contact Margaret Woda at Long & Foster Real Estate, Inc.  Enjoy a competitive edge in your next real estate transaction or military relocation with Margaret’s 30+ years of real estate experience and local knowledge on your side, as your adviser and advocate. 

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