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COMMON PROBLEMS FOUND DURING RENTAL INSPECTIONS


Although most buildings have some code violations and/or maintenance problems, the great majority of problems are minor and require little in the way of correction. Listed below are a few of the most common problems found during an inspection of a property. Use the list as a guide to correct items before the inspection.

SMOKE DETECTORS
 
Missing, disabled or improperly installed smoke detectors are the number one problem noted on most compliance orders. A monthly inspection of all smoke detectors by the owner or manager is strongly recommended.
 
FURNACES AND FLUES
 
Openings in the furnace, venting, and chimney which allow exhaust gases to escape into the household environment are very serious. Exhaust leaks are difficult to detect and often go unnoticed until harm is done to the occupants. A visual inspection of the equipment is conducted by the inspector. The inspector may require a licensed contractor to certify the equipment.

The furnace inspection includes:
  • Inspection of the heat exchanger for signs of rust-through Inspection of the venting and chimney/flue for proper connections, slope and signs of rust-through Inspection of gas line and gas shut-off valve Inspection of wiring Must have proper clearance to combustibles
  • Filter must be relatively clean
WATER HEATER
 
The most common problems found with water heaters is a missing or inadequate temperature and pressure relief valve and a missing or improperly installed tpr valve discharge pipe. The water heater inspection includes visual inspection of:
  • Venting; must be in good condition, properly connected, with an adequate drafthood Temperature and pressure relief valve; must be properly installed and in good condition, with a properly attached discharge pipe. State and local building codes vary and may require that the pipe extend to somewhere between  6" to18" of floor. Some codes require that they must be metal while some others allow PVC. Gas shut-off valve and gas line; must be properly connected in good condition; valve must not be broken Cold water shut-off valve No leaks
  • Proper clearance to combustibles

Note: Many jurisdictions require a permit for replacement of water heater.

ELECTRICAL SYSTEM
 
Though many potential electrical problems are hidden, the inspector looks for obvious conditions that can lead to electric shock or fire ignition. Potential problems include:
  • Bare, abused, obsolete or worn wiring; splices or fixtures installed without a junction box Missing outlet or switch covers; missing cover plate on fuse box; missing covers on junction boxes Oversized fuses; signs of overloading Loose or damaged fixtures, switches, or outlets Overhead service lines too low to ground/deck/porch, etc. (Min. 10' above; Pre-1963 a min. of 8' above. Check your local code.) Improperly wired fixtures, switches, or outlets GFI outlets installed in any location near running water.Unusual installations and other hazards Use of extension cords in place of permanent wiring (garage door openers, sump-pumps, etc.)
  • Incandescent lightbulbs lacking 12" clearance to combustibles
PLUMBING
 
The most common problems found in plumbing are a cross-connection of contaminated water with potable/drinking water. This can occur through improperly installed or obsolete ballcocks in toilets (lack of 1" airgap between critical water level of ballcock and top of overflow tube; or unapproved, non-anti-syphon ballcock; or through hoses left connected to faucets (laundry tub or exterior), when not in use.) Other potential problems include:
  • Fixtures that are improperly vented Leaks; corroded traps Clean-out covers or plugs that are loose or missing Loose toilets Flexible plumbing (not permitted) for waste lines ABS (black) and PVC (white) plastic plumbing glued together Bathtubs or sinks with porcelain worn off Lack of ventilation in bathroom (mechanical or window)
  • Missing tiles or other sanitary covering in shower/tub area
EXITS AND EGRESS
 
Every sleeping room must have two acceptable means of escape in case of fire, such as a door and a properly sized window. All basement sleeping rooms must have a door directly to the outside, or a legal egress window. All egress corridors must provide reasonable egress and resistance to fire.
EXTERIOR
 
Items that require correction in this area include:
  • Siding, soffits, fascia, and trim that is rotted, broken, or missing Peeling paint (50% or more per side) Leaking foundation Missing, broken, or torn screens and storms Missing or broken shingles; leaking roof
  • Deteriorated siding
MISCELLANEOUS
 
The following miscellaneous items also will require correction:
  • Missing or inoperable locks on windows within six (6) feet of the ground Broken windows Missing or inadequate handrails on stairs (required on all stairs with 3-4 or more risers, depending on local code.) Holes in fire walls & missing door closers on fire doors Missing, inoperable, or inadequate locks on door Evidence of rats or mice, or cockroach infestation Standing puddles or stagnant water Uncollected refuse Unscreened refuse/recycling containers Improper storage or disposal of materials Missing house/building numbers Junk and debris in yard Dual-key deadbolts Structural problems
  • Other items as determined by the inspector
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