You are familiar with a move-in inspection and a move-out inspection. These inspections take place just before signing the lease and just after you hand over your keys to collect your security deposit.
But did you know that your landlord can also perform a rental inspection while you live in the apartment?
It’s not uncommon for the landlord to do a routine inspection a few months after the move-in inspection. Regular inspections can also help the tenant, as they help remind the building owner that there are problems with the rental property.
However, there are certain steps they need to take now that a tenant is occupying the rental unit to complete the inspection.
What is a rental inventory?
Let’s start with what a rental inspection is. The property manager most often inspects rental properties during move-in and move-out and annual inspections throughout your stay in the apartment.
Your landlord will ask you for a time when he can come for an inventory with a dated note. They will enter your unit and walk around as inspectors.
They can confirm they’ve made previous repairs, resolve any new issues, and verify that you’re meeting rental terms.
Inspections often help landlords manage major repairs needed to avoid any breaches in properties. The visit to the property does not take long. However, a tenant must be present to review the rental inspection checklist.
The property manager will also inspect the building and make sure you follow the pet rules, inspect the paint colors and everything on the lease.
It is important to note that you are not exempt from this inspection. According to the lease, the landlord must inform you of the inspection and the reason for the inspection, and you can postpone it. However, you are not exempt and cannot ignore it.
The landlord can charge you a penalty fee or kick you out of the rental for not meeting the terms of the lease.
What type of rental inspections should you expect?
Most states require at least 24 hours notice for a landlord to enter a rented apartment and perform property inspections. Some places will say “reasonable notice”, so be sure to read local tenant laws to protect yourself.
The initial inspection, the move-in inspection, takes place before the tenant moves in. The tenant decides to rent an apartment after the initial inspection based on the condition of the property.
On an annual or semi-annual basis, the owner will advise that he wishes to carry out regular inspections.
As long as there is occupancy on the rental property, landlords should do rental inspections regularly.
This ensures that their rental properties are in good condition and that tenants live in habitable rental properties.
How often will the owner carry out inspections?
Throughout the calendar year and frequency, the schedule is often shared on your lease. While you are in the apartment, note any normal wear and tear and have the landlord inspect any potential repairs.
You will most likely see your landlord doing inspections at the following times:
- Just before moving in
- While tenants are on the property
- If tenants alert them to a repair or problem
- Immediately after the departure of the tenant to determine the security deposit
It is important to fix things quickly to prevent further damage and keep the property in good condition. So a rental inspection is mutually beneficial if you don’t break the rules.
Can a landlord enter your rental unit?
Property managers must submit a written notice at least 24 hours prior to the inspection date. Some states will say “reasonable notice,” but read the lease to see what the building rules are.
A good landlord-tenant relationship is built on trust (it’s a business transaction, after all). Either party can take advantage of the situation, so be sure to read your tenant rights.
The owners must inform the tenant of the reason for the visit before going for the inventory.
All relevant parties should be present, both tenant and landlord, to go over the rental inspection checklist together and discuss any issues or resolve any outstanding issues.
An owner can let themselves in in case of an emergency, such as a fire or a severe flood.
During this time, record any potential repairs, confirm completion dates, if anything needs to be updated by building code by the owners, and any other associated costs.
The mid-lease inspection is a great way to find out what your rental unit might need and if you want to stay there, because it’s usually halfway through the lease.
Your landlord can do a drive-through inspection. However, this does not require notice. They may walk past rental units to inspect the exterior, but this often does not count as a rental inspection.
What happens during your rental inventory?
So your landlord comes inside your unit to go over their rental inspection checklist. This rental inspection will determine if the landlord takes any deductions from your security deposit. Or, if the landlord needs to fix anything for you as the current tenant while your lease is still in effect.
During the inventory of fixtures of the rental, the owners will examine the following elements:
- Any pet signs if your building does not allow pets
- Inspection of water damage around sinks, toilets and laundry room. Confirming that there are no leaks or damaged mold is essential to prevent damage to the unit in the future.
- Smoke and carbon dioxide detectors and other security systems must be inspected and brought up to code in the building
- Safety around the unit is essential. Notify your landlords of any outdoor lights that are out, tripping hazards, or if walkways need repairing.
- Be aware that unreported issues may cost you fees. You can fail the inspection and face eviction for damage to the rental unit. Be sure to submit any code or damage issues to owners in a timely manner.
- Regularly check HVAC filters and make sure your landlord inspects the air conditioning unit
- Pest Control Inspections
- Broken devices
- Any other breach of the lease such as smoking inside, illegal activity, or subletting your rental unit without approval
For owners, their properties are their investment. They will bring documents to sign after passing the inspection and confirm the condition of the property.
After the inspections, you will also agree that the landlord will take care of the necessary repairs or that the tenant will take care of it in case of damage.
What happens if my landlord breaks the rules?
If your landlord walks past the property to check the building so much that it becomes intrusive, acknowledge it as a problem.
The constant calling of a landlord and the disruption of your right as tenants to a quiet and peaceful rental unit can quickly turn into harassment.
Other means of disruption include:
- Cut utilities to property
- Refuse to pay and carry out real estate repairs in the building
- Entering the tenancy illegally
First, check your rental agreement to confirm the inspection clause. Only do this if the harassment is ongoing, not just a one-time affair. Record all instances of harassment and file a complaint with your local municipal government. Some states have specific laws to protect tenants.
Regular rental inspections are common
Rental inspections are extremely annoying but a necessary step in paying rent. A rental inventory goes both ways. It helps the homeowner stay in compliance and inspects and maintains the unit to ensure it is up to code.
But inspections also help landlords protect themselves against someone who might be a bad tenant and conduct a rental inspection of repairs made to the property so far. This is an important process for both parties involved to complete.
You must keep the apartment in perfect condition as a tenant and pass the inspection to avoid not retaining your security deposit fees.