When 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.