When your landlord tells you it’s time to inspect the rental property, should you panic?

If you’ve turned the property into a candidate for Hoarding: Buried Alive, or if you’re using the property to grow weed, the answer is yes. Your landlord could evict you for breaking the lease terms.

But if you haven’t damaged anything, and the place is in the same shape as when you moved in, your landlord probably won’t ask you to leave. In fact, they’ll probably want you to keep renting their place.

It’s easy to assume landlords want to inspect a rental property so they can discover something, anything, to keep the security deposit. But that’s not usually the case.

Most landlords aren’t looking for a way to get out of returning your security deposit when they inspect a rental property. They’re merely keeping tabs on their investment.

Here’s a behind-the-scenes look at rental property inspections, why they happen, and what you can expect.

Landlord inspection at move-in/move-out

Most landlords do a move-in inspection with you and a move-out inspection with (or without) you. They want to determine if you left the place in the same condition as when you got it, and they take into consideration normal wear and tear.

Sometimes landlords also want to check on their property before the year is out, during the lease term. That way, if there is a problem, they can take care of it before it worsens.

Here are some examples of what landlords look for:

  • Did you sneak in a pet to get out of paying pet rent?
  • Did someone else move in who isn’t on the lease?
  • Are there any maintenance issues, such as an overloaded circuit, that could be unsafe or causing more damage?

How many landlord inspections are normal?

Some landlords don’t do landlord inspections at all. Maybe they’re 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 the opposite. They may wrongly believe they can enter the rental property anytime. Note to renters: they can’t! You have the legal right to “the right to quiet enjoyment.” That means your landlord can come over only for specific reasons, they must give you notice, and they can’t come over excessively.

So how often can a landlord inspect a property? Read your lease to see whether an inspection is mentioned. Landlords often inspect once a year, but some inspect a rental property twice a year or quarterly. Whatever the case, they are required to give you notice, usually 24 or 48 hours in advance.

What your landlord might find

Your landlord might uncover these common issues during an inspection:

  1. If you have hardwood floors and aren’t maintaining them properly, such as using a wet mop, 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’s 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 go over what’s expected of you, 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 getting any of your security deposit back, 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 their drive-by inspections or disturb you in any way. They can check to see if everything looks good from the outside.

Bottom line

Regular inspections are one way landlords help keep your place safe and in good condition.