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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132 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Beth

    We have rented this house for 15yrs. But this past year our landlord put us through hell, by coming over every Wed. and Sat. claiming she wants to do some new paneling on house. And needs to bring contractors in for bids. Not only that she won’t let us use the backyard, because she needs it empty because patio furniture might get in the way of people giving the bids. Finally work got started, she said it was only going to take a week, but now its going on 2 months. We also have gotten too many cats coming around because the contractors have left the vents under the house wide open, so cats just came in and had kittens. Now she is putting the blame on us about the cats. We have been paying rent. Should we even with no use of backyard

    • Kim

      Wow, I would be looking for a new home. There is no way I would be renting a home and not be able to use everything. I bet she wants the lawn mowed and taken care of. I would continue to pay the rent but I would document everything so when I moved out that last month and wouldn’t pay her one red penny. I would have proof that she took us through hell. And she may be getting ready to sale the home in which she only has to give you 30 days notice or until your lease is up. Look for a new home I am sure after 15 years you are ready for something more updated anyway. Good luck.

    • DebbsSeattle

      I would think that after 15 years you should have a pretty open relationship with your landlord. Heck, if I had a tenant that long I would probably consider them in the same category as relatives. I would want to make sure that my tenant was happy because you have basically “Paid” for my mortgage.

      As the tenant I would leverage that relationship. I would share my discomfort of being “put out” with the noise, the mess, and the disruption to my families normal life. I would kill them with kindness all the while stressing the value of my 15 years of being a quality renter and taking care of their property as well as I had. I would be feeding their ego with how I phrase things like: “I really need your help and expertise.

  • Lizbeth Deleon

    I want to know been paying rent on time failed inspection 3 times in a row and still been paying rent what can I do?

  • Karrie

    Does a landlord have the right to come over to see if you are cleaning properly ever couple of months?

  • Kendra Johnson

    I work 40-plus hours a week, two kids by myself, and no vehicle and my landlord thinks I am avoiding him or hiding something when he tries to come every month to my house to collect the rent and I can’t meet him there. I told him this time I would be at my parents helping them move and said he would meet me at my house and would evening or morning be better. I won’t be home in the evening and he comes before kids are awake. Can he demand I meet him at my house every time? To me it just seems he’s being very controlling. But I don’t want to get on his bad side either. But if someone else giving me a ride I can’t tell them they have to take me when it’s convenient for him

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Kendra,
      Tell your landlord that you can’t always meet him every month and that you would like to discuss alternate ways of paying your rent. Of course, there is Cozy! https://cozy.co/how-cozy-works/collect-rent/ Or you could suggest mailing a check or sending the rent money through a service like PayPal. Good luck!

      • Kendra Johnson

        He actually had me take it to an office one time but when I asked he doesn’t let me do it that way anymore. It’s just getting really frustrating like I don’t have any personal space

    • Joel

      Hey set up interact email money transfer & send him his rent that way & he will have no reason to meet u

    • Deborah D Vaders

      My lease stated acceptable forms and methods of payment. Check yours for specific clause relating to payment. Otherwise, I would recommend a conversation that effectively addresses the issue of convenience and ask for their help in making it easy and mutually convenient for both of you. After all you want to pay and he wants to collect. Electronic transfer from your bank account to theirs should be easy with most banks offering “pay online” bill pay. I know my husband was able to set up his monthly payments to his ex-wife for auto deduction via ACH with Wells Fargo and my checking allows bill pay to all the big companies as well as individuals. This provides great records on both sides and is easy and painless for both of you.

  • Amanda

    Hi I have a landlord who comes over often from three days a week to five to now seven he just walks into our home when ever he wants back or front door doesn’t knock or even call he says he has to do renovations on the house in order to sell it but he seems to find a new project as soon as he’s done last it’s become out of control so we confronted him very nicely and he now would like us to “vacate the property” in 90 days..we pay him rent every month and do alot for him what should we do now? I live in Quebec if that helps. TYIA

    • Isaac

      He obviously does not feel that you are optimum tenants, however, there are rules of 24 hours or 48 hour notice for coming in. Just gracefully end your tenancy and find a more suitable place, as a landlord/tenant relationship is based on mutual expectations. They expect things from you as it is their property….and you expect peaceful enjoyment as you are responsible in maintaining their house and paying your rent on time.

  • Michael Fields

    I am getting tired of these 48 hour notices, 2 months ago we all got one for “inspection” my place is clean so there were only there for 2 minutes, then we got another notice (And each time they since it is a big complex they put 2 days down and say 8am-5pm no real time or day) so the other notice was to check the fire sprinklers (Where they go out on the balcony, and so on) then we got another one a week after that saying the bank that owns the property MIGHT come by and check (another 2 days) then 1 week (I am not kidding) we got another one saying they are going to check the balconies (When they already walked out there during the sprinkler inspections) another 2 days, I have 2 more notices for the coming weeks, how much is to much?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Michael,
      This is a gray area. Talk with your management company about your concerns. See if you can work out something you can live with. If not, tell them you plan to move. They might be more accommodating if they hear that. If not, you need to live with the frequent inspections or move.

      • Michael Fields

        Thank you for your response, I could not write everything down, I mean I do not care if they come but not all the time for things they could have already done, it just seems like bad management. You know why do the same thing within 3 weeks when you could have done them both at the same time. But the reason it bugs me so much is I am disabled, and my disability really prevents me from getting up before 11am, they know it (I have told them many times) but its like they do not care, so on the days they do the inspection I have to sleep in the living room as it would take me to long to answer the door from my bedroom, its just such a pain, I never miss a payment, always on time, and they will not work with my disability by coming later

  • Penny

    How many times a month can management force inspections on tenants in section 8 housing apartment complex?

    • sarah line

      Sec 8 Apartments that are project based are inspected once per year. They do them at the same time as your financial recertification. I’ve never heard of a Sec. 8 inspecting monthly. That’s called harassment and invasion of privacy. you need to speak to a lawyer at legal services in your state. At least call a local attorney who specializes in landlord/tenant matters and get some basic information. It sounds like your getting walked all over and you may need to get tough.

  • Anita

    Hi,

    We just moved in June 1st.. the landlord said he had no intention of selling for at least 4 years.. my husband is elderly and its hard to move. 6 weeks in he told us we had 30 days as he now wants to sell. He tried to use the 10 day clause but he found out that that is not legal. He now wants to inspect and bring people in even though he is selling commercially (big lot). I have PSTD. And this is really getting to me.. he knows i have pstd and i do have a service dog. I asked how often he planned to inspect… he said it depended on the condition of the property and possible buyers. My lease is for a year with no selling clause.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Anita,
      If you signed a year’s lease, you can stay for the year as long as you pay rent and aren’t breaking any lease terms. The landlord has the right to show the place to prospective buyers, but you also have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property. Typically, landlords need to give you at least 24 hours’ notice before they show, and they probably should limit showings as much as possible. If the landlord sells during your lease term, the new owner will be your landlord.

  • Pat Weeks

    Hi. My landlord schedule a repair with me and came to do it when I was not home and that was okay. While he was in the apartment, he walked all around and did an inspection. I did not know an inspection was being done or I would’ve cleaned up better. He sent me a letter telling me there was mildew in several places that I needed to clean up. Is he allowed to inspect while he does a repair? Thank you.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Pat,
      I’m not a lawyer, but I would highly doubt there are laws about inspecting once inside a unit. You need to assume whenever anyone is inside your home that they will look around. And this is your landlord’s property. If you let things slide, the house can fall into disrepair. I think you should take care of the mildew problem before it gets worse.

  • Michael

    So my landlord gave me a 48 hr notice for a inspection and no one ever showed. What can i do about that.

    • Kim

      Micheal, if the apt complex is large their intention may be to do your apartment but can’t get to it that day because of issues with other apartments. Our apt complex puts in the letter of the days they usually say it will take about 2 days. The unit I am in is about 1600 sq feet. as are all of the units in the building I am in. There are about 12 units to each building. We just had an inspection on yesterday, and I love my community because they change the light bulbs in everything. we have built in microwaves and the light was blown on it came home yesterday and it was working. We have them about 2 times a year. I love they keep things up. Someone is always working on the grounds keeping them up. even sweeping in front of doors.

  • Lori Santos

    Landlord wants to open all closet doors, cabinets including bathroom, refrigerator, and oven during our yearly inspection. Also I am handicapped and they want anything near windows moved I’m on 10th floor, also anything near a wall socket moved couch, dressers etc… When did they start allowing landlords to take away our dignity? My apartment is clean and I’m never late with rent. I am also disabled and they know this so how can I allow this? Is it legal? I live in Massachusetts.

  • James

    Hi my landlord posted a 24-hour inspection and put the inspecting time between 6:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. I work very early as well as my wife does he have to do this during normal business hours I live in Louisiana

  • Susie

    So my landlord gave us a 30 day no cause termination…. and then proceeded to give us a 24hr entry noticed which upon completion handed us another for thr following day… this went on for 3 day and receive a 4th one but never showed up…. the notices reason for inspection was to determine all occupancy…. but for 4 day s in a row? Is this harrassment?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Susie,
      I’m not an attorney, so I can’t make the call on what is harassment. I suggest speaking with your landlord to find out what’s going on.

    • sarah line

      In New Jersey, landlords are only allowed to inspect once or twice per year. The only exception is for a tenant who has significantly damaged the property and the landlord is allowing them to stay for whatever reason. Landlord can check on these folks every 3 months but this is a quite rare situation. Generally more than once or twice per year is considered harassment, intimidation and violation of privacy. My new landlord wants to check every four weeks when she picks up her check, but we don’t get along and my lawyer advises me not to let her in at all since she has been here 7 times in 5 months. She can try and have me evicted but the courts will not entertain her request since she in not in accord with the law.

  • Tina

    My family and i moved in a house, and paying 1700.00 for rent and house is fairly new, but biggest mistake ever due to landlord is a freshly widow and left things inside the house and left a storage unit out bk that we’re not allowed to use, and wants to show up any time she pleases due to we’re on a month to month lease… she feels she doesn’t have to abide by the lease due to it’s month to month…

  • Rebecca

    How often can the landlord inspect before it’s considered harassment? My landlord is inspecting every month or two here in SW Florida.

    • sarah line

      Rebecca, In NJ the law is once or twice per year is ok. More than that, the courts consider harassment. My landlord put something in my lease that said there would be monthly inspections but my lawyer said it isn’t legal anyway and putting this in the lease doesn’t make it legal since it conflicts with state law. He said I was not to let them in again for another inspection and to call police if they try to get in. I suspect the law is the same in Florida.

  • Katrina Chambliss

    Does it have to state in the lease, that the landlord will be doing random inspections? because its not stated in my lease. I live in Virginia.

  • Kimberly

    My last landlords tenant before us had cats that messed up a bs k room floor. We removed the carpet and had his approval. Issue was when we did the smell got worse. He took our deposit and blamed our little 8 pound dog for what the prior tenant did. He then proceeded to tell the contractors working in his apt that we made the mess. What a jerk, hope karma catches up with him!

  • J D

    Made my apt PERFECT so they could inspect and leave me alone. FAIL. Why? its the summer time and I had a window fan sitting in the window. One that just sits in the groove and comes out by opening the window. Fire Hazard. Since then I’ve had a FOLLOW UP of them coming through my apartment, because of a window fan. Well today I get another notice OBSTRUCTION OF WINDOW LIVING ROOM 24 HOUR INSPECTION NOTICE. its winter and I haven’t had the fan in since the summer the first time they came over…. So 3 inspections for a window fan you can see from the ground. Which I dont believe is a fire hazard to begin with. Exaust pipe for portable AC is ok mounted in the window, but not a fan that isn’t mounted? Feels like invasion of privacy at this poin

  • sarah line

    this is obviously a site for the interests of landlords. In NJ and every other state I am aware of, landlords cannot legally do inspection more than 2 times per year. Even if they put something in your lease which they did in mine, specifying they could do monthly inspections, my lawyer said it’s still illegal and any judge would instruct them as such. They cannot come up with their own laws and circumvent state law. Once or twice per year. There is one exception and that pertains to a small group of tenants who have significantly damaged property and it is documented. If the landlord decides not to evict these people but allow them to stay, they may inspect every three months but no more. More often, courts call harassment

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