As a landlord, you have tons of responsibilities.

Some of these are done weekly, some monthly, and some only a couple of times a year.

One of the most important responsibilities is making sure the property is in good condition. If the condition of the property is not acceptable, the landlord may face a collection of expenses.

This is why most landlords choose to conduct rental property inspections a number of times throughout the year. These routine inspections are incredibly important and can save landlords tons of time and money in the future.

In this guide, we will be going over the importance of rental property inspections as well as some different types. We will also be answering questions like "How often should the landlord inspect the property?" and "Can a tenant refuse rental property inspections?".

Why are Rental Property Inspections Important?

If you are a relatively new landlord or are new to the property management industry, you might wonder why you should conduct a rental property inspection.

Performing rental property inspections is important because it allows the property manager to verify and maintain the property in good condition throughout the entirety of a tenant's lease.

Routine inspections can help you discover things like:

  • Pest Infestation
  • Damaged Flooring
  • Structural Damage
  • Broken Windows
  • Plumbing Issues
  • Malfunctioning Appliances

These are especially important when it is an occupied rental property. This is because landlords and property managers always want to make sure that the tenant is living in a nice environment with no issues. In fact, there are actually some laws that protect the tenant from living in an uninhabitable environment.

A property management company can also perform these inspections. The property owner simply instructs the company on how often and how thorough they want the inspections to be. Then, the property management company takes care of it.

So, now that we know about the importance of these inspections, let's learn more about the different types.

Different Types of Rental Inspections

By different types of rental inspections, we basically mean different time periods and thoroughness. Below, we will be explaining the five most common types of inspections as well as what you should be looking out for each time.

Move-in Inspections

A move-in inspection is an inspection that is performed right after a lease is signed but before the tenant moves in. It is important to conduct this inspection in person and before the tenant has moved all of their belongings into the property.

During this inspection, the inspector should have some sort of move-in checklist. This checklist keeps track of all the things that need to be inspected and allows for any notes to be taken on these features. Then, the inspector creates a report reflecting the condition of the property.

The checklist and the report are then signed by the tenant and become part of the lease. Then, at the time of moving out, these documents are compared with the move-out inspection. This comparison may help determine what damages are considered unusual damages and can be deducted from the security deposit.

Quarterly Property Inspection

A quarterly inspection is a type of routine inspection that is conducted every few months. They can be done more often only if the landlord suspects that the tenant is breaking some of the terms of the lease agreement. This could mean having an unauthorized roommate or unauthorized pets in the rental unit.

It is especially important to make sure that you are not violating the tenant's right to "quiet enjoyment" of the property. To do this, you must obey all local laws and state laws and make sure that the tenant is alerted before conducting any inspections.

When informing a tenant of an inspection, however, they may feel like they're being accused of doing something wrong. Then, it is important to reassure them that they are just routine inspections and that the purpose of them is just to inspect the condition of the rental property. By doing this, they even have time to fix any issues or damages so that they do not show up on the inspection report.

Drive-By Inspection

A drive-by inspection is an inspection that is performed without actually entering the property itself. Rental property owners or property managers will typically just visually inspect the outside of the property at different times of the week, usually in the evenings or weekends.

The main purpose of these inspections is to catch anything that is out of the ordinary. For example, if you see a dog in the yard, or maybe even hear barking as you're passing, this could indicate that a pet is living in the property. At this point, you may schedule a routine inspection but you should not immediately accuse the tenant of housing unauthorized pets.

During these inspections, another way to gather information is by speaking to the neighbors. The neighbors are typically a good way to gauge your tenant's conduct and determine if there is any wrongdoing.

Move-Out Property Inspections

When the time comes for the tenant to move out of the property, move-out inspections should be conducted. This kind of inspection should be done the day that the tenant moves out of the property. It is important that the inspection is done soon after the tenant leaves. If not, the tenant can claim that the damages were not theirs.

Before doing the inspection, it is important to notify the tenant of anything that should be done prior. They should also be notified that this inspection is what determines whether they will get their security deposit back in full or only part of it.

Just like in the move-in inspection, the move-out inspection should follow some sort of checklist. This checklist should be identical to the move-in checklist and should serve to compare the condition of the property.

Change in Ownership

The last type of rental property inspection on this list is a change in ownership inspection. This kind of inspection is done when the property owner hires a new landlord, property manager, or property management company.

When hiring a new property manager or company, it is a good idea to let them conduct their own inspection of the property. This is so that they do not have to depend on the reports of the old company that could have had mistakes.

This inspection is typically much more thorough and contains a lot more than a routine inspection. It also details any problems with the property as well as what needs maintenance.

So, now that we know about all the different types of rental property inspections, let's go over some of the frequently asked questions regarding rental property inspections.

Rental Property Inspections: Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of the most frequently asked questions about rental property inspections.

Can a tenant refuse a rental property inspection?

Although a tenant is allowed to request a different time and date for an inspection to be done, they cannot completely refuse the inspection. Since inspecting the property is one of the landlord's rights, and may even be included in the lease agreement, it cannot be done.

If a tenant tries to postpone an inspection for a prolonged period, that is a direct violation of the landlord's basic rights and the lease terms. At this point, the landlord may have to send out an eviction notice to get the tenant to change their stance.

How often should a landlord inspect the property?

Most states do not have a limit on how many inspections the landlord can do every year. As long as the inspections are not done randomly and the tenant is given proper notice each time, there can be multiple inspections every year.

However, most landlords stick to doing move-out and move-in inspections, as well as seasonal or quarterly inspections. This means that the landlord may conduct around 5 or 6 inspections each year. If these inspections are predetermined at the time of the signing of the lease, it is important that the tenant is notified about the date and times so that they have time to prepare.

David is the co-founder & CMO of DoorLoop, a best-selling author, legal CLE speaker, and real estate investor. When he's not hanging with his three children, he's writing articles here!