Commercial Property Inspection Secrets for Property Managers

Commercial property managers have to inspect commercial property frequently to ensure that the tenants are correctly occupying the premises, and that the property still performs well for the landlord. Failure to inspect a property leads to problems with tenants and property function.

As a commercial property manager you should have a structured inspection process that details the property issues needing to be monitored. A structured inspection process helps you focus on the specific elements in the property that impact rent, function, and tenant occupancy.

As to how long a property inspection takes, and how frequently you should inspect the property, really does depend on these three things:

  • How the property is used by the tenants and what pressure this creates on the property.
  • The type of visitors to the property and frequency of usage.
  • The fees that are being paid for the property management services by the landlord.

In absolutely all cases, a property inspection process should be documented for future reference and or evidence in any claim or concern. In commercial property, the matter of proof and evidence is critical to the future legal activities under any lease arrangement or dispute with occupancy provisions.

It is very common for retail property to be inspected more frequently than office or industrial property. This is mainly due to the interaction of the customer in the property, and the large numbers of people visiting the property each day.

The inspection process for a commercial or retail building is always unique and specific to its location and structure; however the following is a good model to use when inspecting commercial buildings under property management.

  • Start with the exterior of the property, looking at the points of access and egress to the front of the property and around the property.
  • Look for presentational issues associated with signage, access, and building appearance.
  • Security around the building and the property itself should be examined for effectiveness and practicality. Look for areas that have been tampered with or areas that are potentially sources of future problems.
  • Examine the points of entry for the tenants to the property. Are the access points of a quality that supports the property profile and rental? Are the access points safe?
  • Understand the storage of vehicles on the property and car park operations in and around the property. Are the car park operations functional, well lit, and secure?
  • Look at lighting around the property and its suitability for after-hours security and property usage.
  • Examine the exterior of the building for obvious maintenance issues and malfunctions.
  • Look at the entrance points to the building for compliance to current building codes as they apply in your area and with the building of its type.
  • Examine the safety exits and evacuation points to ensure they are in compliance with safety standards and building codes.
  • Look at common areas such as corridors, stairs, tea rooms, toilets, and other services and amenities used by the tenants.
  • Examine the entrance doorways and frontages to the tenancies for compliance to lease documentation including the current plans and drawings that apply to the building.
  • Move through the tenancy space (subject to lease authorized access) looking for signs of damage or unauthorized tenant usage.
  • Plant and machinery associated with the building and owned by the landlord should be inspected by qualified contractors that understand the practicality and function of the machinery. Written reports should be obtained on a monthly basis on all maintenance matters.
  • The tenant should be interviewed regularly to understand any difficulties or concerns that they may have with the building. You are also looking for changes of occupancy or space need with each and every tenant such as expansion or contraction of space.

The above list is a basic summary of the commercial property inspection process. Given that every property is unique, it is best to create your own inspection checklist to use when inspecting the different property types of office, industrial, and retail property.

Your region and location will also present certain other aspects of occupancy and concerns to be monitored. A good example here is environmental, heritage, or cultural issues. When you inspect commercial property, do so with a view to building safety, usage, and investment performance.