Inspection Cycles


Screen Location... Setup menu.

This screen is used to:-
  • set up a table of codes and descriptions which can be assigned a property
  • spread the inspection workload by assigning properties evenly across inspection cycles.

    There must be at least one Inspection Code as every property must have an inspection code allocated.

  • This may be any one or two character code that takes your fancy.

  • Description of this inspection cycle.

  • Create a "No Inspections" code for your casual lets.
  • There is a Sequence field on each property which can be used to further separate properties within each Inspection Code as covered in the Discussion section below.

    Most landlords will require you to inspect their properties on a regular basis apart from the arrival and departure of a tenant.  You can set up a table of inspection codes which represent the various way in which you inspect properties.  By assigning a code or cycle to each property you can manage the inspections and balance the workload.  You may set up cycles based on geographic area, frequency of inspection, landlord requirement or any other way you need.  The demonstration system includes three possible methods one of which may suit your needs.  There is a two monthly cycle, and two versions of a quarterly inspection cycle.  The first of which has three codes, (Q1, Q2, Q3), which will show all the properties to be inspected in a given month.  The second breaks the months into four inspection cycles each month.  Have a look at the Setup menu > Inspection Codes to see these structures.  You may devise some other method to suit the way you work.

    The most common frequency based splits seem to be two monthly and quarterly inspections.  With larger rent rolls you will then need further separation within each of these categories simply because you can not inspect all your two monthly properties "on the same day".  You may in fact have eight separate two monthly cycles allowing you to split the load into eight lists, each one having a week to be completed.

    You need to put some thought into your inspections if you want to manage the load properly.  You need to take into account the time required to give the tenant notice, distances to travel, your "normal" workload, the level of inspection and time taken and the myriad of other things associated with the inspection.

    The permutations of inspection cycles are endless.  I will show two examples using a two monthly cycle for all my 96 properties plus an alternative method using Bring Ups.  With the inspection cycle methods I need to inspect 12 properties each week over eight weeks, (or two months), before starting the cycle again.

    In the first example I set up eight Inspection Codes, B1, B2 .....B7, B8.  (B simply indicates bi-monthly) and assign 12 properties to each of the eight cycles.

    I then arrange inspection letters for the tenant's in the B1 cycle notifying of the inspection to be done in the first week of January.  The B2 letters notify inspection on the second week of January, B3 the third week and so on through until the B8 properties have been inspected.

    I will then repeat the cycle with the B1 tenants notifying them of an inspection for the first week in March, two months after the January (B1) inspection.  The B2 letters are for the second week in March and so on.

    In the second example I will only set up two cycles B1 and B2 and split the properties between them.  Then I would run B1 in Jan, Mar, May, Jul, Sep and Nov and B2 on the other months.  This means I have 48 properties on each list.  I can subdivide them further into weekly groups using the method shown in the Setup menu > Inspection Codes for the quarterly cycle.  They can be subdivided also by enter a code in the Sequence field.  I would like to spread my 48 properties over four weeks and for my example I have nominally split my inspection day into three time periods 9.00am to 11.00am, 11.00am to 2.00pm and 2.00pm to 4.00pm.

    By allocating a Sequence of 1, 2, 3, or 4, to the property I can identify which properties to inspect in week 1, week 2, week 3 and week 4.  If I use a 6 digit number I can use the Sequence to identify both the week and the time of day I want to carry out the inspection.  Thus 010900 would mean the first week, 01, and in the 9.00am to 11.00am time slot, 0900.  A Sequence of 031400 would mean week three in the 2.00pm to 4.00pm time slot.  Using a 24 hour clock to identify the time means the sequence sorts correctly, whereas using a 12 hour clock will sort 2.00pm before 9.00 am.

    The cycle keeps being repeated throughout the year.  Make sure you leave gaps in the schedule and the daily loading to cater for new properties and it really goes without saying you should try and group the properties so a geographically close group are done on the same cycle where possible.

    If your policy is to do an initial property inspection say four weeks after the tenancy starts, assign the property to the cycle that occurs four weeks after the tenancy starts.  It can always be moved later to balance the load.

    Whether you bill separately for your property inspections or the cost of doing so is built into your fees is up to you.  For those who do charge for inspections see Inspection Billing below.

    Use the Admin menu > Notes to create electronic diary reminders (Bring Ups) as a means of keeping to your schedule and indicate which selection to make when printing the Properties menu > Reports > Property Inspection report.  For example in the first method above, set up eight Bring Ups called "B1 letter," "B2 letter" .... "B8 letter" dated to give you the appropriate lead times for printing and posting the inspection notices.  Also setup eight Bring Ups called "B1 inspection", "B2 inspection" .... "B8 inspection" dated with (the day before) the inspection date.  As each Bring Up is actioned don't tick the Actioned box but rather change the date two months forward to the next time the Bring Up is required.

    Print the Property Inspection report and use that as the selection list to print your standard property inspection advice to the tenant and also as the input form to initiate billing the landlord.  The report has all you need including the inspection fee if it is non-standard.  Use the report number P05 and the date or property number as the invoice reference number.

    A third alternative method is to ignore the Inspection Code and Sequence system completely and use a Bring Up on each property as shown in this example:-
    When a tenant moves into a property, say January 20, go to the property and enter a Note with a Bring Up date of when you want the next inspection.  For my example I want to do an inspection a month after they moved in, so a Note titled "3 Monthly Property Inspection" is created with a Bring Up date of February 20 less the appropriate lead time for printing and posting the inspection notice, say February 15.  In the Note body make an entry "Inspection date February 20".
    On February 15 the Bring Up system will notify you to send the inspection letter which you can do by using the appropriate standard letter.  Save the letter as a Note to show the letter was sent.
    Change the Bring Up date to February 20.  If you did not want to save the Note in the previous step you could make an entry in the body of the Bring Up "Letter sent February 15".
    After the inspection is complete change the Bring Up date May 15, add a new line at the top of the Note body "Inspection date May 20".
    This process is repeated each time an inspection is done.

    Variations on this method include:-
    Instead of saving the inspection letter as a Note making an entry in the body of the Bring Up "Letter sent February 15".
    Saving the "inspection letter Note" as a Bring Up with a date of the inspection "February 20"
    Making inspection notes within the "original" Bring Up and ticking "Actioned" and creating a new Bring Up for the next inspection.

    Whichever method you employ if you want to do an inspection "a month" after the tenant moves into a property simply reassign the property to the correct Inspection Code and Sequence or change the Bring Up date.

    Inspection Billing

    Not all property management organisations charge directly for the property inspections they carry out and in other cases it is built into the management fee.  This topic is for those who do bill and covers one way you may like to consider using.

    Make entries in the Inspection Fees table that you will be charging your landlords.  Include one called "No Fee" with an amount of zero if you do not charge inspection fees and for use with casual lets.

    Set up a special supplier account called "Property Inspections".  Assign a code over 9000 to keep it away from your normal trade suppliers.  Make the Payee Name and bank account code your trading account on the [Payments] button.

    Print the Properties menu > Reports > Property Inspection report to use as both a "to do" list and a post inspection billing document as it contains the inspection fee to charge.

    After you have inspected the property enter an invoice just as you would from any other supplier.  I imagine you would override the disbursement fees as the "invoice" amount would include GST and two bites at this particular cherry might get right up your landlord's nose.  I doubt whether you would actually raise an invoice but you could if you want to send one, or wish to have one on file.  It seems a bit of a waste to me.  You could use the inspection cycle code and the property number as an invoice reference no, e.g. B1-1032 being the B1 cycle suggested in the Property Inspections topic above plus the Property Code.

    The effect of entering the invoice is to transfer the inspection charge out of the landlord's account immediately into the "Property Inspections" supplier's account.  These charges can accumulate in that account throughout the period and be paid out in the normal Suppliers Payment run.  If you want to draw on them earlier simply make a payment from the "Property Inspection" supplier account.

    Print a selective Supplier Ledger to see the property inspection fees charged.

    An alternative method of making the charge is to use the Landlord Fee screen and enter "Property Inspection" in the Transaction text.  Make sure you select the property if you use this method.  A disadvantage of this method is you can not see how much you have charged for property inspections.

    Initial Installation Step 6 - Setting up the Inspection Codes

    Go  to Setup Menu > Inspection Codes to display the Inspection Codes data entry screen.

    You may skip this step during the initial implementation as you have plenty on your plate as it is.
    If you do so all properties will be assigned to the first Inspection Code and will need to be re-assigned later which is OK and simple to do.
    There must be at least one inspection code because each property must be assigned to an inspection cycle.
    The initial demonstration program contains a number of default inspection codes which may be used which the Cleanup program will leave in place.  
    Deciding the manner of setting up inspections may be more of a task and we recommend you read this entire topic before changing or adding to this table.
    Field usage is covered above if you really need it.

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