What Can a Landlord Look at During an Inspection? Everything You Need to Know

Learn about the different aspects a landlord can inspect during a rental property inspection, including the property's condition, maintenance issues, lease violations, and compliance with rules and regulations.

Nichole Stohler
Last Updated
October 26, 2023
What Can a Landlord Look at During an Inspection? Everything You Need to Know

Do you know what a landlord can look for during a property inspection?

From checking the property's condition to identifying maintenance issues, lease violations, and compliance with rules and regulations, landlords inspect a lot during these evaluations. Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, make sure that your rental property is well-maintained and meets all requirements for the prosperity of the rental.

So, let's examine what landlords are expected to inspect during property evaluations to prepare you when the time comes.

What is an inspection?

Rental inspections function as check-ups for your home. During a rental inspection, the landlord or property manager inspects different aspects of a rental property.

They want to verify the property is in good condition, everything is working correctly, and that tenants are following the rules.

Rights and responsibilities during the inspection

State laws determine the guidelines for rental property inspections. Brush up on your local laws to make sure that everyone's rights are respected. A few common laws you'll find across the states include:

1. Notice requirements

Landlords must inform tenants in advance before inspecting, usually with a written notice. This notice gives the tenant time to prepare and know when the inspection will happen.

2. Privacy rights

Tenants have the right to privacy in their rented space. Property managers must have permission granted by the tenant to look through their belongings or enter their living areas for apartment inspections.

3. Frequency of rental inspections

A rental inspection should only happen every now and then. You typically undergo inspections when a tenant moves in, moves out, or should an issue arise during the lease. Frequent and unnecessary inspections are illegal, so make sure inspections only occur for valid reasons.

4. Emergency inspections

Landlords can enter without notice in emergencies, such as when the running water breaks or a gas leak occurs, to fix the issue urgently and keep not only the unit, but the building, safe.

5. Fair treatment

Landlords must treat all tenants equally when it comes to apartment inspections. They cannot single out specific tenants based on race, religion, or family status, as mandated by fair housing laws. Doing so would qualify as illegal discrimination.

Understanding fair housing laws will help keep the apartment inspection fair and respectful to everyone's rights. Consult with a legal expert or local tenant-landlord guidelines should you have inspection concerns.

Use a rental inspection checklist

Diligent landlords and property owners use a rental inspection checklist as a helpful tool to assess the condition of a rental property during an inspection. A checklist can help to validate that the landlord and tenant are on the same page regarding any damages or issues.

Areas landlords can inspect

During an apartment inspection, property managers can check out certain parts of the property, but they must follow the law and respect the rights of the tenant. Below are some guidelines tenants should follow when conducting apartment inspections:

Interior areas

  • General condition: Property managers have the right to inspect the overall condition of a rental unit. They want to make sure it's in good shape and well-maintained. Aspects of the overall condition include checking if the walls, floors, and ceilings are in good condition, as well as conducting a mold inspection to verify that the property is free from harmful mold growth.
  • Safety hazards: Landlords can inspect for issues that pose a threat to the health and safety of their tenants. For example, they can check if there are problems with electrical wiring that could cause a fire or if the locks on doors and windows work properly.
  • Appliances and fixtures: Landlords can verify that appliances like the stove, refrigerator, or dishwasher are working as they should. They want to confirm that you have access to the basic things you need for daily life.

Exterior areas

  • Yard and landscaping: If the rental property has a yard or garden, the landlord can inspect it. They want to confirm that the outside area is maintained because it's part of the property. Things they might check for include overgrown weeds or broken fences.
  • Structural integrity: Landlords also have the right to check the main structure of the building. It means they can look for signs of damage, like cracks in the walls or a leaky roof.
  • Common areas: In buildings with shared spaces, like apartments or condos, landlords can inspect areas such as hallways, staircases, or laundry rooms to verify that these areas are kept clean and safe for all tenants.

Lease compliance checks

  • Rent payment: Landlords can validate that a tenant is paying rent on time as they agreed to do in the lease agreement. If the tenant's behind on rent payments, they might talk to you about it.
  • Pets: The landlord can check that tenants don't have any pets on the property if the lease prohibits pets. They want to confirm that everyone follows the same rules to keep the rental property in good shape.
  • Subletting: Sometimes, leases say you can only sublet or let someone else live in your place with permission. For this reason, the landlord or property manager is permitted to verify that you only allow others to move in with their knowledge.
  • Other lease terms: The lease agreement may specify other rules, like no smoking, quiet hours, or maintenance responsibilities. Landlords can see if you follow these rules during a rental inspection, as they are part of your rental agreement.

Landlords conduct these inspections to verify safety and proper maintenance. Landlords are responsible for keeping the place in good condition, but they must also respect your privacy and follow the rules when conducting inspections.

Common types of rental property inspections

Landlords may conduct several different types of inspections. Here are the common types of apartment inspections:

Move-in inspections

This inspection happens when a tenant first moves into the apartment. Landlords will go through the property with the new renter to document its condition and any existing damages. Both parties should take pictures or notes during this inspection to protect themselves from being held responsible for pre-existing issues.

Routine inspections

Landlords may conduct routine inspections periodically, usually once or twice a year. Inspections check the property's overall condition and identify any maintenance or safety concerns that need attention. The landlord will provide notice in advance before conducting a routine inspection.

Move-out inspections

When a tenant decides to move out, the landlord will conduct a move-out inspection. They will compare the apartment's condition to the initial move-in inspection to determine if there are any damages beyond normal wear and tear. The move-out inspection is conducted to determine the return of the tenant's security deposit.

Things landlords should keep in mind during inspection

Landlords play an important role in conducting inspections of rental properties. Here are some things that landlords should remember during an inspection:

  • Provide notice: Landlords must give tenants advance notice before conducting an inspection. This allows tenants to prepare and make necessary arrangements for the inspection.
  • Document findings: During the inspection, document any damages, maintenance issues, or violations. Take photos or notes to have a record of the condition of the rental unit.
  • Provide feedback: Landlords should give feedback to the tenants after the inspection. It includes discussing any identified issues or concerns and providing guidance on addressing them.
  • Respect tenant rights: Landlords should respect tenants' rights during inspection. This includes not going through personal belongings or invading their privacy.
  • Follow up on repairs: If the inspection uncovers any necessary repairs or fixes, landlords must address these issues within a reasonable amount of time.

By following these guidelines, landlords can conduct inspections respectfully and professionally.

What can a landlord do during an inspection?

Landlords have the right to inspect the rental property to confirm compliance and that it is well-maintained. Tenants should be aware of the occurrence of these inspections and understand their rights.

The tenant and landlord can make the inspection process smooth and fair by working together and following the law.

What can a landlord look at during an inspection FAQs

What happens if you fail an inspection?

If you fail an inspection, the landlord will list the identified problems or violations. You will receive a timeframe to fix these issues.

Failure to address the problems within the given time frame can lead to penalties, such as fines or deductions from your security deposit, and repeated failures can lead to eviction.

Can a tenant refuse a landlord inspection?

No, a tenant cannot refuse an inspection. Landlords and property owners have the legal right to conduct inspections if they provide proper notice and have a valid reason.

How long should an inspection take?

Inspection may take from 30 minutes to a couple of hours. The property's size, the complexity of the inspection, and the specific areas under scrutiny determine the time required.

Important Note: This post is for informational and educational purposes only. It should not be taken as legal, accounting, or tax advice, nor should it be used as a substitute for such services. Always consult your own legal, accounting, or tax counsel before taking any action based on this information.

Nichole Stohler

Nichole co-founded Gateway Private Equity Group, with a history of investments in single-family and multi-family properties, and now a specialization in hotel real estate investments. She is also the creator of NicsGuide.com, a blog dedicated to real estate investing.

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