Joint Inspection by Landlords and Tenants
August 27, 2020
Rental accommodation has become a common means to obtain housing for thousands of Fijians as well as for expatriates and regional and international students. This has made rental accommodation a vital component of Fiji’s housing system. However, this sector is not without its challenges in Fiji.
The Consumer Council of Fiji has received a total of 959 complaints on landlord and tenancy issues from 2019 to date. Upon careful examination of the nature of complaints being lodged, it can be concluded that most of the complaints would not arise or could have been solved had a Joint Inspection been done by the landlord and the tenant.
What is a joint inspection?
When you rent a place, you must perform a joint inspection of the property with your landlord at the beginning of your lease period (entry inspection). You will perform another joint inspection when you vacate the property (exit inspection). A detailed inspection report, often accompanied by photographs, seeks to outline the property’s condition before the tenant takes occupation and after the tenant vacates. The inspections should always be in writing, signed by the parties and attached to the tenancy agreement as an addendum. Joint inspections can be in the form of a condition report. The purpose of these inspections is to assess the condition of the property at both the beginning and the end of the lease period.
Why are joint inspection important?
Joint inspections are vital in establishing which party is liable for the damages/repairs to the property. Joint inspection aims to avoid future disputes between the landlord and tenant regarding who is responsible to repair noted damage to the property, either at the beginning or end of the rental period. Having an extensive record of the original condition of the property means that you, as a tenant can protect yourself against any future liability for damage that was caused before you took occupation of the property.
The Entry Inspection
The condition of the property and any pre-existing defects should be meticulously recorded to determine the landlord’s responsibility in resolving the defects that affect the beneficial occupation of the tenant.
The landlord is not required to fix each and every defect on the demand of the tenant. Items that are not material need only be noted so that the tenant is not held responsible for these at the end of the tenancy period. Typically, these items will not affect the tenant’s beneficial occupation of the property or the purpose for which the property has been let.
The Exit Inspection
At the end of the tenancy period, an inspection is done to determine if any damage was caused by the tenant to the property during the lease period. A tip is that the exit inspection is done on the same document as the entry inspection for ease of comparison. The tenant is expected to return the property to the landlord in an acceptable condition (the same condition as they received it).
Any repairs to damage caused by the tenant needs be rectified before the lease expires and the tenant vacates the premises. Failure to do this will result in the landlord using the tenant’s deposit (bond) to rectify the damage.
It is imperative that both the entry and exit inspections be carried out jointly by the landlord and the tenant to avoid any disagreements on the condition of the property.
The steps needed to complete a joint inspection/condition report;
- The Landlord or agent to fill out and sign the report and make duplicate or triplicate (whichever is required) noting the cleanliness, general condition, and working order of each applicable item on the report.
- If flat is furnished, a list of all furniture and the condition of each item should be attached to the report.
- The tenant should then be given two (2) copies of the filled-out condition report before the tenancy begins.
- The tenant should sign and return a copy to the landlord or agent within seven (7) days and keep the other copy for themselves.
Promised Repairs- If the landlord or agent promises, prior to the start of the tenancy, to fix anything or do other work (e.g. cleaning or painting) this should also be noted in the report. The tenant will then have written evidence on which to take the matter further if the repairs or other work are not carried out by the agreed date.
A good report should adequately document the following;
- Any nails in a wall
- Any defaults, defects, or marks/stains
- Any particular fittings or features and their condition
- Electrical; lights, switches, wiring
- If furnished; all furniture and its condition
- Condition of Kitchen, toilet, bathroom, roof, veranda and all other structures and facilities.
- Photographic evidence of any faults, as well as the general state of the entire property
For any queries regarding join inspection, landlord and tenancy issues or any other consumer subject, consumers can contact the Council using the toll-free number 155 or lodge a complaint using the Consumer Council of Fiji mobile app.