As a landlord and/or property manager, you go through quite an ordeal to choose a tenant. You flip through applications, you screen them, and then you compare and choose the best applicant to sign a lease with. It can be a stressful time, but not just for you. Your new tenant has been researching, applying, and going through all the steps to find their next perfect home. They may have found you first or you may have been one of several that they were applying to, but they were likely on the edge of their seats in anticipation for your acceptance. Finding the right property is just as important for your new tenant as finding the right tenant is for you, and no matter how long they stay, your property will be their home. They will eat there, sleep there, and live there for the duration of the lease that you have both agreed on. There will need to be a balance found in allowing them the privacy they need to enjoy that home and your ability to maintain the property.
Walkthroughs and preventive maintenance are some of the best ways (after thorough screenings on applicants before accepting them as tenants) to protect your property. You'll want to make sure that you are not infringing on the tenant's privacy. Check local laws on if there are already rules in place as to how much notice you must give to legally enter the premise. You should also have this detailed out in your lease at the beginning, as well as remain in communication with your tenant over matters such as these.
There are several times that a walkthrough should be offered for the property. The first is upon move-in. While some tenants may not wish to have the landlord/property manager walk through with them, it's best to provide them with a checklist for the property so that they may take a look and note anything that needs to be fixed or if anything is not as it should be. This should be kept on file for the duration of their stay in the property so that if there was any kind of damage done before they moved in you will have notes to prove that they should not be charged for it upon move-out.
A property walkthrough should be provided at least once a year, depending on local laws. This is for both the landlord and tenant's benefit. It allows dialogue to open up about the property, how things are going, if there are any small or large repairs that have been found that need to be made, and also to allow the landlord to look for any preventative repairs to make. You'll want to make sure that the heating system is ready for winter, the cooling system for summer, and any other numbers of upkeep that come with owning a property. Some landlords and property managers do not provide walkthroughs during the year, but they may be opening themselves up to allow problems to grow into emergencies when they could have found and fixed them early for a great deal less money.
Before the tenant moves out, a walkthrough should be offered. The move-out walkthrough is to give them an idea of how much they should expect to receive back of the deposit they provided upon move-in. Many tenants prefer the landlord/ property manager to be there for this walkthrough so that they can go over in detail if there is any further cleaning that needs to be done or if they should be expecting a deposit over something. While the landlord may not be able to to say without question at that point if the tenant will receive their whole deposit back, it should allow them a general idea. It should also provide them for with time to clean the property further if they need to.
You should never enter a property without permission outside of emergencies. Good communication between you and the tenant should allow for a smoother process, which will help both of you in the end. Be available to help when they need it and and respect your tenant's privacy, and they will likely be more open to having you stop by for walkthroughs.