Apartment Inspections: What They Are & How to Pass

When you rent an apartment, the rental property management or your landlord will likely conduct an apartment inspection during your lease. Whether you’re a current resident, renewing a lease, or moving out, here’s our guide to preparing for your apartment inspection.

What Is an Apartment Inspection?

An apartment inspection is a routine or randomized checkup conducted by the landlord or property management. While there are a few types of inspections, they typically boil down to move-in/out inspections, and random or scheduled inspections to ensure you’re not violating the lease agreement, perform repairs or maintenance, and help keep tenants safe and comfortable.

How Often Can Landlords Do Random Inspections?

Technically, there’s no limit on how often a property management company can access your unit. However, the owner can’t legally enter unless you give permission, there’s an emergency, they’re performing maintenance, they believe you’ve vacated, or they’re showing the unit to prospective tenants. This means that landlords are still pretty limited on how frequently they can conduct apartment inspections. If planning to conduct an inspection, landlords must give residents a 24-hour notice before entry—or more, depending on local access laws—with an inspection notice or intent to enter form. Once given, they can conduct the review during regular business hours in the window of time they communicated—with or without your presence.

What Can a Landlord Look at During Inspections?

There are a variety of things your landlord will consider while inspecting your unit, and some leasing offices may even provide you with their own checklist. They primarily want to ensure they’re providing you with what they’ve agreed—a habitable, safe, and working home, complete with secure and safe entry, secure windows, and more. Additionally, they want to make sure you’re keeping your end of the lease agreement. For example, if your lease allows for only one animal, your landlord will be looking to make sure the one you’ve registered with them is the only animal you have. They’re also checking for any damages. Unless you’ve registered these damages at move-in, or have already reached out to your landlord to fix them, the following items may result in a failed apartment inspection:

  • Broken or damaged appliances
  • Broken tiles or damaged wood floors
  • Large stains or rips in the carpets
  • Signs of smoking in a non-smoking apartment
  • Unsanitary conditions like mold or mildew
  • Water damage

How Do Apartment Inspections Affect Your Security Deposit

Passing or failing inspections can determine whether or not you’ll be fined, as well as whether you’ll get your security deposit back when you move out. This is why it’s important to maintain your end of the lease agreement and to always address any problems or damages as they occur. Finding out who is responsible for repairs is one of the top questions you should ask before signing a lease, because you’ll need to know whether to handle these issues yourself or report them to management. If something in your apartment is broken or damaged and your landlord is responsible for repairs, you’re less likely to be charged for the repair if you contact your landlord at the time of the incident.

How to Prepare for Your Inspection

The inspection may be organized by room, or your landlord could do more of a spot-check for certain concerns. Preparing for your inspection can help you pass it! It’s a good idea to tidy up walking areas, and to move obstacles from places like your furnace closet, so your landlord can easily enter. Other than making sure the unit is being kept in fine condition, landlords are looking for lease violations and deciding if they need to establish preventative measures. Here are the main elements property managers and landlords are looking at during apartment inspections.

Habitability & Safety

  • Locks present
  • Sealed windows
  • Presence of functional egress window (if applicable to unit)
  • Secure flooring, ceiling, & walls
  • Doors present, whole, & mobile
  • Unobstructed vents
  • Intact carpeting, tile, etc.
  • Lack of pest, mold, or mildew infestations

Lease Violations

  • Additional residents or vehicles
  • Structural or major cosmetic changes to unit not allowed in the lease
  • Illegal drugs
  • Unauthorized pets
  • Unauthorized smoking

Workability

  • Balanced water heater
  • Draining tubs & sinks
  • Functioning thermostat
  • Operable systems & major appliances (like the stove, oven, refrigerator, & freezer)

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