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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241 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Linda Mckinney

    My landlord wants to constantly inspect my unit. The lease says once a year but they have inspected five times this month alone! She always has a different excuse to do so such as : necessaryrepairs but repairs nothing, a Freddie Mac inspection , twice . A regular inspection, a balcony inspection and many others. Is there anything I CA do to stop this harassment ? It is getting out of hand. Now she wants to come in the day after Christmas. Please help…

    • Patricia A Milligan

      I’m going through the same thing but they come in when I’m at work and nobody’s here so due to my ptsd I submitted paperwork from my doctor for reasonable accommodation requesting that they only inspect before I go to work or afterwards or on weekends due to my ptsd and the property STILL denied me and I’ve reached out to fair housing, Ohio civil rights commission department of justice is aware and supposed to be investigating but so far nothing has been done and when I’ve taken off work and lost wages to be here during inspections they cancel and come back when I’m gone. There’s been a multiple of strangers in my home while I’m gone having access to everything in my life and I don’t even have names for all these people to be able to check their backgrounds

    • Jan

      1 year lease. Now month to month. Now the landlord wants to come in and inspect the rental. How years now month to month. I see no reason landlord to come into rental. He never even gave us a move in inspection. Overly nosey. Rude and demanding personality. At month to month why come in for another inspection ? Weirdo

  • Karla Driver

    I have been renting from the same HA for around five years I moved to a different property three months ago management has given some excuse to inspect change batteries, read the meter ending up they have entered my apartment with excuses at least once every two weeks since I moved in. They do provide me with notice but is this not excessive and to change battery in smoke alarms the first month after I moved in and read the meter one week after I move in ?? wouldn’t they have read the meter and changed the batteries during make ready for me to move in?
    I am mentally disabled with complex PTSD and it is really driving me crazy why do we have no rights under housing authorities ?
    no other tenants have had so many entries in such a short time

  • Mia Greco

    My landlord does monthly inspections and this month we have 3 all month it’s given me ptsd I shake when I think she’s at the door how to I get this to stop I read 1-3 times a YEAR is normal it’s too much help somebody please I feel trapped

    • Shellyshell

      Whatever your lease says they have to obey it and go by the rules I know managers and landlords can be pretty intimidating and make you feel uncomfortable but the law is the law and they have to obey it if If they wanna come in more times then what they say in your lease then I would tell them no and if they want to problem with it I would get a lawyer because you do have privacy and you do have rights

    • kelly mary

      I don’t think once a month inspections are legal in any state in this country. HUD does them once per year and this is standard across the country. The courts will allow twice and even three times per year, although I think 3 times is ridiculous but courts will not sanction a landlord unless there are other major issues going on. More than 3 times per year, every court I am aware of calls HARASSMENT. You probably should talk to a lawyer and if you are poor, call your county legal services or legal aid.

  • Melissa Hughes

    Moved to apt 2 wks ago, having MANY issues; pls. advise! 1)Forced 2 sign lease w/out time to read & not given copy 2)Allow 3 cats, 200 dep ea, changed mind after 4 days, said only 2; gave 4 hrs to make arrangements for my kitty 3)Diff. rules for long term tenants (Me: no plants on porch; Them: so much stuff porch & side lawn are covered) 4)Allowed (skeezy)maint. man to enter my apt w/ no notice (4x), no one home (2x), & once I came naked from shower to find him in my L.room 5)LL enters w/out notice whether I’m home or not; she knocks, if I don’t answer asap she uses a key 6)Has been by apt 12 of my 14 days 7)Gave out my personal info 8)Inspect:day 14; threats to evict b/c “clutter”;I have not yet felt comfortable enough to unpack anything!

  • Nikkip

    I’ve seen people fight in court for years with bad tenets and, I never understood why. Write up a lease that says you can inspect the property if the tenets default on payment for two weeks. You can do it without a lease too. When you give the notice that your are going to inspect in 48 hours have a witness. Go in with a time stamp camera and take pictures of everything they’ve tore up. When you go to court take your pictures with you. The judge will ask if you want to put them in jail. No. That’s just more time it will take them to move out. The judge will give them a week to move out with notice that if they tear anything else up they will be criminally liable. The law is on the tenets side until they break the law.

  • SusieQue96

    I am high risk for COVID19–cases are rising in my area. I have been self quarantined since early March -all our tenants are high risk. Our management wants to come traipsing through 42 units for “routine inspection. I don’t believe this is safe as they don’t wear mask or gloves or practice social distancing. I should not have to risk exposure to a fatal disease so they can see if my floor is mopped. How do I stop them?

  • PixieDust

    I have been broken into 6 times & totally trashed the whole entire apt. They refused to change the lock. I have been robbed once & my medicines stolen. I have a stress related illness that makes me very tired & can not clean up to their speed. I had a stove fire which I put out & the smoke caused a heart attack. All they want to do is cover up & blame me. After I came home, from the hospita 11 people were so nasty, I landed back into the hospital with over 220 blood pressure. They keep harassing over house work. I told them, it will take a while, because there is a financial abuse case going on & I must find the important paper work. Hazy air quality making me feel ill & extremely tired. Undid a clogged pipe & someone put scissors in my bed

  • PixieDust

    I had a fire on the stove, but before that, my micro wave stopped working. The water was cloudy & before the fire, my air quality was quite hazy. After the fire, I took a heart attack, because of all the smoke I breathe in. I put the fire out. My office has been trashed 6 times & I told the manager about it, but they refused to change the lock. Now, after 6 times being trashed & I’m not well, she keeps on the housekeeping. Their harassments put me in the hospital, at least, 3 times. I told them I have high BP & they don’t even consider it. I have poor hazy air quality & they refused to find the source. I found there was also damage to the hood, where there was no fire & scissors in my bed & my things were moved all over I’m also ill

  • Cestor

    My daughter and two other girls are college students renting their first apartment. The landlord is nervous about renting to college students and wants to put an addendum to the lease to allow him to come over for monthly inspections. This seems very invasive to me! Is this even legal? I think they should find another place but they are really set on this apartment. Thanks!

  • James keffer

    This article is completely biased towards owners and offers little advice for tenant rights…

    Money talks and bullshit walks. I pay rent I pay for privacy and a home not to be invaded by nosey landlords.. if you can’t accept the risk of renting and need to inspect people get out of the buisness cause your an asshole.

  • Mikarosha

    If I told my Lanlord that I’m self quarantined for 14 Days because I was out of town for a funeral and told him he can come after the 14 days are over, does he have the right to insist on coming in to inspect? We didn’t even do a move in inspection…the only thing that prompted him to want to inspect is I told him I can’t pay rent and it would be some time. And he said because I can’t pay rent right now he feels something is wrong with the property so he wants to come inspect… in the lease it says 24hrs notice but I feel with covid 19 there should be exceptions to that.

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