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.

Get our free newsletter

Join 200,000+ landlords

  • ​Tips to increase income
  • Time-saving techniques
  • ​Powerful tools & resources

58 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Ashley

    Hi. We moved into this place last June. The property was bought by a guy and he uses Remax as his property manager. This happened in September/October 2017. They have inspected this place 8 times since October and many times before that (not including the appraiser’s many visits the times due to them selling/buying). They have always given at least a 12-24hr notice but they came by today without a notice. Can they randomly pop up without notice?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Ashley,
      They should give you notice. Discuss this with your landlord. Good luck!

    • Venshe

      You are lucky you do not live at Lefrak in Corona. They intentionally come every other week. The apt come with a standard fridge but you are not allowed to have a small freezer or none of that even thou tenants pay their own light. Its a nightmare living there. You are lucky you get notice before they come.

  • Kristy Baylor

    Hi, I’ve been renting this house for almost 2 years now, I’m halfway through my second year lease. My landlord drove by the house every week, and only did a walk through 2 times in my first lease. Now she drives by every day (she lives 3 blocks away) and is now requesting to do walkthroughs every 3 months. There has never been property damage or and legal issues at the property. I feel as though its become excessive and starting to become a problem. I pay to fix the appliances when they break(frig broke) and keep up with the lawn and property myself. What should I do or what can I do?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Kristy,
      Tell your landlord what you just said here. Of course, you can’t control how often they drive by, and coming once every 3 months, while not necessarily excessive, is probably on the high side. Hopefully, you can both come to an arrangement you can both live with.

  • Dawn

    I have lived in this townhome for three years now. They know I am clean, report when things need attention and always pay the rent. We are about to have our 4th walk through in 6 weeks. The first one was a “pre inspection”, the second was a city inspection, the 3rd was an investor and today we just got notice that next week they’ll be here with an apraiser. Can they keep coming in like this?!?!

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Dawn,
      It sounds like they might be selling. Ask your landlord what’s going on. If they are selling, let them know that you need notice before they bring people over. Also ask that they limit showings to a reasonable amount, such as no more than 3 times a week.

  • Charles Tumlinson

    Hi, I have been in my apartment for 8 years. The Manager has suddenly started to do as she said quarterly a Walk thru. However she has come every 2 and 1/2 months and now again today after a walk thru 1 and 1/2 weeks ago. This is not quarterly, I find this excessive and very disruptive. I am disabled and she knows how this aggravates my health issues. She says this is not her intent or concern.
    This walk thru obsession of hers is excessive. Quarterly is every 3 months not 2 and 1/2 months, and not less that two weeks for another. She did one 1 1/2 weeks ago and another today, Is this a violation of Quiet and peaceful use of my Apartment. I have always taken good care of my apt. Thank You

  • Nicholas

    How many inspections are meant to be carried out ? I’ve been told every 3mths is this correct. I’m with community housing.

  • Kurt

    We just notice from ot landlord that he is going to be putting the house we are renting from him on 3/29/18. And my wife was looking at the letter and he wants us out by 4/25/18, not even a month. Now, today I have a notice stuck in the screendoor and he wants to do a walk through on 4/20/18. I mean we are in the middle of trying to get packed up, of course things are not going to be neat and orderly, what can we do? Makes me think he is trying to find someway to keep our security deposit.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Kurt,
      Look up your state law here at Landlordology to see how much notice you are entitled to get before you move. Regarding the walkthrough, landlords can’t hold your security deposit because the place is messy days before you move out. But they can hold some or all your deposit to pay for costs beyond normal wear and tear for cleaning and repairs. So make sure you leave the place in the same condition at move out (accounting for normal wear and tear) that it was in when you moved in, and you should get all your deposit back.

      • Kurt

        But what if he walks through, and yes it is messy, because we are packing, and trys to use that. And as far as the walk through, he hasn’t done a walk through in 4 years, now went all of a sudden he needsto do one, especially while we’reaware trying to pack. Plus the fact, that we didn’t get notice until the 29th of March, and he wants us out by the 25th of April, not even 30 days time, that is what irks me more than anything.

  • rola

    Hi ive been renting this house from my landlord for almost 2 yrs. We only had a 1 yr lease. Our lease expired last september. my landlord lives next door so they see everything urghhhh!! Anyways all the sudden few weeks ago they told us only park in drive way not and the grass. we have 6 cars including company cars. They told us we have to buck up all the way out to the road before turning. New rules out of no where. Than no pool since it leaves a brown ring under the pool. another new rule as of 2 weeks ago. we payed rent 5 days late. on the 5th they texted saying there will be a walk thru in the morning. Even after paying rent today we get another text stating they are coming over for another walk thru. Is it allowed? twice in one month?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Rola,
      In many jurisdictions, it’s against local ordinance to park in the grass. And even if your jurisdiction doesn’t have such an ordinance, and you ruin the landlord’s lawn, you will either need to replace the grass, or the landlord can deduct that money from your security deposit. Bottom line: it’s never a good idea to park on the grass. There are no laws on how many times a landlord can do a walkthrough. Ask your landlord what’s going on with that. They typically shouldn’t come twice in one month. There may be a reason this one time.

  • Estefania

    Ive been here for 2.5 years. Never been late on my payment and adhere to her rules. The landlords came by to fix the washer and noticed the stove was dirty and crumbs on the carpet. Im a full time college student with two toddlers and a side business. Yes the stove was messy, I do admit. Im a little busy. She sent me a letter with a series of things she wanted addressed like no toys outside, no saw dust in the garage and so on. Now she wants to do monthly inspections. Is this okay? It feels excessive.

  • Michael Neal

    Hi Laura, I’m desperately trying to get advice for my sister. She moved into a house last July with a verbal agreement on rent with many stipulations; the owner (landlord) lived in a connecting house. After 6 months a written lease was given with verbiage such as: twice a month inspections, renter must be vegan, WiFi will be turned off at night, rent was higher than agreed upon, many more. My sister didn’t want to sign, but was told to sign or leave. She signed as she is disabled and didn’t wish to be homeless with her 13 year old son. Things have gotten worse, landlord goes into the home uninvited many times and harasses her about cleaning. She was recently given a “do these things” list, then eviction. She needs help quickly.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Michael,
      Regarding your sister not wanting to sign the lease but had no place else to go, her landlord would have had to have given notice, such as 30 days (depending on your state law). That gives time to find a more suitable place. But since your sister signed the lease, she is obligated to abide by the lease or risk eviction. The landlord can’t evict if she is up-to-date on rent and abides by the lease. The landlord also is not allowed to come into the home uninvited unless it’s an emergency. Your sister can break the lease and pay any fees or the rent until the landlord re-rents, or she can make plans to move once the lease is up if she is no longer happy there. Good luck!

      • Michael Neal

        Thank you Laura. I have a couple other questions: what makes a lease legal? The landlord’s name on the lease is not her real name and my sister makes out her rental checks to the landlords friend; also there are no rental licenses or tax ids anywhere on the lease; another peculiarity, the address rented doesn’t exist in the county’s property tax website. I’m confused and trying hard to help her. We live in Hawaii County.

        • Laura Agadoni

          Hi Michael,
          You are getting into legal particulars about your unique situation now, which I am not qualified to answer. I can only provide general advice. To get more in depth, you’ll need to consult with an attorney or legal aid service.

          • Michael Neal

            Thanks again Laura. I have been trying to find legal advice online and have been unsuccessful. I also would like to call the police, but am afraid without proper counsel, they may just see the eviction and not realize the form isn’t legal, and side with the owner. I have been referred to a few attorneys here in Hilo only to find the referrals were mistaken. Is there perhaps a person with legalese you could ask to advise her? Hawai’i has a landlord/tenant handbook, only after I reviewed, I saw that she was being treated illegally and the owner doesn’t know the law. I can’t believe how much I know now. ;) Any help will be much appreciated, as is that already given. Mahalo ☺️

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Be short, sweet and to the point.