How Often Can a Landlord Inspect a Rental Property?

Written on October 17, 2016 by , updated on November 7, 2016

too-many-inspectionsWhen your landlord tells you it’s time to inspect the rental property, do you panic?

If you’ve turned the property into the next potential candidate for Hoarding: Buried Alive, or if you’re using the property as a grow house for weed, you probably should panic because your landlord could, and probably will, evict you for breaking the lease terms.

But don’t worry. If you haven’t damaged anything and the place is in the same shape as when you moved in, your landlord won’t want to ask you leave, and in fact, will probably want to renew your lease at lease renewal time.

Some tenants think that landlords only want to inspect a rental property so they can discover something, anything, in an effort to keep the security deposit.

But don’t worry about that, either. Most landlords aren’t looking for a way to get out of returning your security deposit when they inspect a rental property. They are merely keeping tabs on their investment.

When landlords inspect a rental property, they are merely keeping tabs on their investment.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look regarding rental property inspections, why they happen, and what you can expect.

Move-in/Move-out

Most landlords do a move-in inspection with you and a move-out inspection with (or without) you. They do that to determine whether you left the place in the same condition as when you got it, taking into consideration normal wear and tear.

Related: The Ultimate Guide to “Normal Wear and Tear”

But it’s a good idea for landlords to check on their property before the year is out, during the lease term. That way, if there is a problem, the landlord can take care of it before it worsens.

Here are some examples of what landlords are looking for:

  • What if you secretly brought in a pet to get out of paying pet rent?
  • What if you moved someone else in?
  • What if there’s a maintenance issue, such as an overloaded circuit, that you weren’t aware was problematic?

The only way your landlord would find out these and other issues, issues they have a right to know about, is by performing an inspection.

Related: The Definitive Guide to Renting to Tenants with Pets

One, Two, or Three Times a Year is Normal

Some landlords don’t do inspections at all. This is a bad idea. Maybe your landlord is uncomfortable telling you they want to do an inspection. Or maybe your landlord doesn’t realize the importance of conducting routine inspections. Whatever the case, you can’t count on your landlord never inspecting the rental property.

Some landlords are just the opposite, wrongly believing they can enter the property anytime they like to check out their place. Note to tenants: they can’t! You have what’s known in the law as “the right to quiet enjoyment.” That means your landlord can come over only for specific reasons and can’t come over excessively.

Read your lease to see whether an inspection is specified in the lease. Landlords often inspect once a year, but some inspect a rental property twice a year or quarterly. Whatever the case, you are entitled to get notice, usually 24 or 48 hours in advance, before your landlord comes by to do the inspection.

What You Might Hear from Your Landlord

There are some common issues your landlord might find during an inspection:

  1. If you have hardwood floors and aren’t maintaining them properly, such as using a wet mop on them, your landlord might notice how dull the floors are looking. They will probably give you instructions on how to care for hardwood floors.
  2. If there is evidence of a pest infestation, your landlord will want to get an exterminator to come out ASAP. The longer a pest infestation is allowed to go on, the worse it gets. Your landlord will probably tell you to let them know if that happens again.
  3. If there are holes in the doors or walls, your landlord will probably tell you to fix them. If you don’t, you can expect a deduction from your security deposit.
  4. If the lawn is your responsibility per the lease, and you aren’t maintaining it, the landlord might do one of two things. They might go over what is expected of you, and then do a follow-up inspection. Or they might hire someone to regularly mow the lawn and deduct the cost from your security deposit.

If you don’t want to risk losing out on getting any of your security deposit back, you should take care of the place as if you owned it. If there are maintenance issues, notify your landlord right away, so they can fix them.

Drive-by Inspections

Landlords are allowed to drive by, walk by, or bicycle by their property anytime they like. They can’t go on the property during these drive-by inspections or disturb you in any way. They can just check to see whether everything looks good from the outside.

The property you’re renting from someone is a big investment for them. Regular inspections, along with tenant screenings, are the best tools landlords have to protect their investment.

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35 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Michelle Jiong

    I settled in court to pay my rent/fees/ court costs in installments until paid off including still renting from agency. With all of the fees/court costs it was @4000 dollars. The monthly payments came to 2 years of payments but they continued to charge me late fees on the outstanding balance. Is this legal?

    • Pauline Newman

      No, it is not, if you are having the payments direct debited & you are not late on agreed payments. If you are late on agreed payments then they can charge a late fee for that payment, They cannot charge a late fee on the entire amount.

      P.Newman BA,RIS,LALS,Hort1,CS3& SAEDU2.

  • Carn

    Thank you for your informative articles, because I did a pre-move out inspection, I was able to pinpoint some problems before the end of the lease term and notify the tenant. I did a thorough cleaning detail checklist, included the dollar amount per hour for my labor which I sent and received acknowledgement of receipt from the tenant. Unfortunately, in this instance, they chose to ignore the letter and leave the rental unit completely filthy, but I did have my case in writing to prove my point to keep their security deposit. It is unusual for us to keep any of our tenants’ security deposit, we usually refund 95% to 100%, but because I did the pre-move out inspection, was able to recover my investment of time and money spent.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Carn,

      Great to hear!

      • India

        I have rented a house for 3 years on a year lease. Now my landlord wants to jack up the rent from 1400 to 1900 and make it a month to month rental agreement. Also, he wants to inspect my house every month. Is this legal.

      • Ashely Scolari

        So my landlord just sent a message to my fiance saying she was doing an inspection of the premises. Mind you she signed a lease with me while my fiance’s lease was still active. And un beknowns to me didn’t inform him. Our windows are broken and have been carpets are nasty and have been for way longer than we’ve been here. She has two security deposits. She allowed us to have a pet our service animal even tho the lease states that we can’t. And just last weekend she walked into my dwelling unannounced. Is any of this legal

        • Eric

          Her walking into your house, if you’re on a lease is illegal. She has to let you know when you’re going to be there. For the carpet and windows, you knew what shape they were in when you signed that lease. She’s supposed to fix them if you say something but other than that you’re sol. And for your pet, she’s the owner, she’s allowed to tell you if you’re allowed to have pets or not. Also take pics of before your pet was there and after so she can’t blame you for any problems that were already there. Best of luck.

  • Destiny

    If my landlord put on the lease that he is going to do a monthly inspection does that mean he has the right to come by every week of the month, also does he have to give a 24 hour notice?

  • Ash

    My landlord is rude and botderline harrassing! All of a sudden she wants us out. And now she is grasping at straws as was to kick us out. The newest thing is about our dog. How often can a landlord do a house inspection? Every week?? This is a little reduliculous!

  • Amanda Renkowic

    We live in an apartment complex from the start of the year (it’s now nearing the end of April so 4 months) they’ve done a total of 4 inspections once to inspect floors, another a couple weeks later to preinspect the apartment, again the next week for a full inspection and tomorrow another full inspection for randomly selected apartments. Do we have rights to privacy?? It’s literally been every other week and they’re not done for the year they have more inspections scheduled for June. I pay rent and I keep my home clean but I’m really getting tired of this. Yes we don’t own this place but we do pay quite a bit of money to live here and I’m thinking they should just move in with us at this rate.
    Is this legal?

    • Tony

      Your landlord has a right to inspect the property, but you have the right to the, “quiet enjoyment”, of your home. Since you use the word, “scheduled”, to describe these inspections, I think you should check your lease, as the inspections may be covered under it.

  • Rosemarie

    My landlord took my rent for 5 years never got permission to rent or never got my place inspected for 6 years just found this out so what happens to me now I lost all that rent and he never fixed anything

  • Patricia mccartney

    My husband and I are first tine renters we have an inspection this Thursday what are they looking for and how long does it take not sure of what to expect

  • Amanda Gouthro

    My landlord comes every dam week for some stupid reason. This is getting annoying. Is this allowed

    • Ashely Scolari

      So my landlord just sent a message to my fiance saying she was doing an inspection of the premises. Mind you she signed a lease with me while my fiance’s lease was still active. And un beknowns to me didn’t inform him. Our windows are broken and have been carpets are nasty and have been for way longer than we’ve been here. She has two security deposits. She allowed us to have a pet our service animal even tho the lease states that we can’t. And just last weekend she walked into my dwelling unannounced. Is any of this legal

  • Bailey

    I have lived in the same rental house for 11 years, the owners use a property mgmt company. For the last 3 years at lease renewal time they want to do an inspection. I have no problem with the inspection. However this year, they want me to pay $200.00 for the inspection. Do I have to pay this?

  • Lundy M Voss

    Yes I wanna know if there is anything I can do about my landlords, they post a 24hr inspection last week but didn’t inspect what they wrote down but they spent all day washing their car and running errands and only inspected when the wanted to but they waited till my fiance came home at like 630/7pm when it’s dinner time and he was a little drunk and they play favorites with a tenant who hangouts and parties with their daughters and gets special treatment… But they posted a 24hr inspection at 11am yesterday saying they are supposed to be inspecting today starting at 8am its 1130am and their outside playing with their cars rather then doing the inspections… Their inspections are 12hrs long for a complex of 40 residents.. Any answers plz

  • Maria

    What to do if a tenant dose not allow the landlord to enter the property when the landlord requests permission to install the smoke alarms and do small repairs?

  • Mackenzie

    I was put on a cleaning list and they have been coming by almost every month since and my house hasn’t failed another inspection. I wanted to move to another home they have and they told me since I was on the cleaning list they don’t know if I’ll be able to. I don’t see why I can’t move to another house even though I’m on a cleaning list and pass all my inspections now

  • bill

    Hi,
    The property I live in is being sold. The owner’s have had multiple, almost 10, inspections with no notice. is this legal? what kind of actions can the tenants take?

  • Anita soto

    So I received a paper from apartment complex about inspection on different days about and unitsee I asked my neighbors if they received same letter they said no I’m the only one that receive it but yet it stays what units on what day what does that mean

  • Anita soto

    I received a paper from apartment complex about inspection on different days about and unitsee I asked my neighbors if they received same letter they said no I’m the only one that receive it but yet it stays what units on what day what does that mean

  • A

    We rent our home out and the current tenants have all but moved a few things and their cats out. Last day of the 3 year lease is 9-30-17. They have not resided in the house for the majority of the month and have left all the doors unlocked. I did a walk through of the property and now they are saying i had no right. All doors were unlocked and the garage doors were left wide open. Opinions.

  • Tanya Perez

    After 12 yrs of residence,I have been receiving letters from my landlord that I am in violation of my lease because the exterminator has been reporting that my apartment is “unsanitary and needs to be cleaned”. Let me be very clear, my apartment is cleaned each week, swept, mopped, tidy, and although I have a 2 year old try to keep it relatively clutter free. I made an extra effort for apartment to be extra sparkly this month to see if I was being harassed. Sure enough there was another letter, stating I am in violation for an unclean apartment. When I call the management office there is no one to speak to me.
    Is it legal for the exterminator be allowed to Inspect and report on apartments? What can I do about this?

  • India

    I have rented a house for 3 years on a year lease. Now my landlord wants to jack up the rent from 1400 to 1900 and make it a month to month rental agreement. Also, he wants to inspect my house every month. Is this legal.

    • Eric

      Read over your lease. It should say that if he wants to that he can increase your rent. If it’s not in your lease then no he can’t.

  • Loretta

    I own my home, but rent the lot. Can my landlord come in & do an inspection of my home if she thinks I have an animal,( I dnt), & animals are not allowed? She caught afew tenants with one, now she wants to inspect everyone’s home. I own mine, & feel that is an invasion of my privacy

  • Eric

    Her walking into your house, if you’re on a lease is illegal. She has to let you know when you’re going to be there. For the carpet and windows, you knew what shape they were in when you signed that lease. She’s supposed to fix them if you say something but other than that you’re sol. And for your pet, she’s the owner, she’s allowed to tell you if you’re allowed to have pets or not. Also take pics of before your pet was there and after so she can’t blame you for any problems that were already there. Best of luck.

  • Kim

    Mine was always nice then one day, out of the blue he told me he wants in within 24 hours, very odd. We are moving because he is a slum landlord. I was desperate when we moved here. Now all the sudden he has to come in. He plans in selling it cause I think he is just too cheap to put down new clean carpet that isn’t 20 yrs old. Him and his mean bratty wife are coming tomorrow. Ugh.

  • Nalani Nieto

    I have rented for 6 years as of April 2018, not once has my landlord did an inspection nor does he come to fix anything at all. When we tell him lights go out he brings a light bulb. When we tell him we have an infestation he tells us to go buy spray and he will reimburse us for. The lawn is on our lease to take care of but all he wanted us to do was keep it cut it was never lawn it was weeds. Front and back. The house was not lived in for 2 years prior to me moving in and the cabinets are real old and drawers on cabinets are all breaking. Pretty sure he is going to try to keep my deposit so he can repair his house. What should I do or would I just lose my deposit when I have to move?

  • Laura Agadoni

    Hi Nalani,
    It’s always important to take photos of your rental before you move in and then again just before you move out. If you didn’t take pictures at move in, start documenting in writing now what is wrong with the place by writing, emailing, or texting your landlord. Keep a paper trail of repairs that need fixing, what the landlord fixed, and what you fixed. Note that you must get permission to make repairs yourself. And lastly, don’t assume the worst of your longtime landlord. Have a conversation with them, addressing your concerns. Ask what you can do to get your full security deposit back.

  • Bobbie

    My landlord has her daughter (who we just met) do walk throughs. Never given us any list and now is entering the rental house without asking first (several times) is this legal? In California

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