What is an Apartment Inspection?

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  • An apartment inspection is a routine check of an apartment’s condition.
  • Apartment inspections can occur before you move in, during your rental agreement, and when you leave the property.
  • Property managers conduct apartment inspections to ensure their renters are taking care of the apartment and adhering to the rental agreement.

Apartment inspections, sometimes called rental property inspections, are an essential part of the experience of renting. But what do these phrases mean? Here’s what you need to know about apartment inspections and why they’re important.

What is an apartment inspection?

An apartment inspection is the viewing of an apartment by a property manager. A property manager may conduct an apartment inspection independently, with the person renting the apartment, or with someone considering moving in. The people inspecting the apartment assess its condition, including any damage and wear and tear.

Types of apartment inspections

There are three types of apartment inspections:

  • Move-in inspection: This inspection occurs before a new renter moves into the apartment.
  • Move-out inspection: This inspection is similar to a move-in inspection, but occurs when a renter is about to move out of an apartment or once they’ve left.
  • Routine inspection: This type of inspection can occur while a renter is living in an apartment. Many property owners like to conduct a routine inspection every three to six months.

Why apartment inspections are important

Apartment inspections let property owners track the condition of their properties and determine when they need to make repairs. Routine inspections help property owners assess whether their renters are adhering to their rental agreement.

As a renter, it’s also important for you to perform apartment inspections with the property manager. A move-in inspection lets you review an apartment’s condition before you sign a rental agreement. You can point out any damage and make sure the property manager knows it was there before you moved in so you can retain your full security deposit. Use this inspection checklist to document any damage or issues. You can also request any repairs and clarify your upkeep expectations during the inspection.

Performing a routine or move-out inspection with the property owner gives you the chance to discuss the apartment’s condition with them. You can explain any damage and request repairs of fixtures showing substantial wear and tear.

Damage vs. ordinary wear and tear

Your property manager can use your security deposit to cover any repairs or cleaning needed to restore the unit to its condition when you moved in. However, they can’t hold you responsible for ordinary wear and tear. What’s the difference?

Damage is harm to the apartment that doesn’t occur naturally as a result of living at the residence. Damage impacts the unit’s value or the use and enjoyment for future renters. Examples of damage include:

  • Broken tiles
  • Large holes or marks in walls
  • Large rips in carpets or stains
  • Water stains on the windowsill or floor from leaving windows open during a rainstorm

Ordinary wear and tear happens naturally when you live in an apartment. It isn’t caused by neglect or abuse of the property. Some examples of wear and tear are:

  • Minor marks or holes on walls
  • Moderate spotting, wear, or dirt on carpets and other types of flooring
  • Fading of curtains due to sun exposure
  • Dents in a wall where a door handle has bumped it

Common reasons renters fail apartment inspections

Here are some of the common reasons that renters fail apartment inspections:

  • The floors, carpets, or bathrooms are dirty
  • They’re keeping pets without permission
  • They’ve put holes in the walls
  • They don’t clean the HVAC
  • They don’t report electrical or safety alarm issues or broken appliances
  • The furniture is missing
  • There’s water damage
  • There are signs of lease violations, such as smoking or subletting
  • There are broken windows or cracked window seals

How to prepare for an apartment inspection

Spending a few hours cleaning up the apartment can help you pass the inspection. Add these activities to your to-do list:

  • Mop or vacuum floors to remove dirt and debris
  • Wipe down countertops and appliances
  • Give the bathroom a deep clean
  • Declutter the apartment so it looks neat and tidy

FAQs: Apartment inspection

What happens if you fail an apartment inspection?

The consequences of failing an apartment inspection are up to your property owner. They may give you a warning. They could also retain your security deposit to fix problems in the apartment. Your property manager may also pass on writing a letter of recommendation, which could make it more difficult for you to get another apartment. If the apartment is in a serious state of disrepair or you are severely breaching your rental agreement, they may start eviction proceedings against you.

How much notice does your property manager need to provide for an apartment inspection?

Your property manager can’t just turn up unannounced for an apartment inspection, but the amount of notice they need to provide varies between states. Usually, you’ll know the property manager has scheduled an apartment inspection at least 24 to 48 hours beforehand. Some property managers give their renters a week or two to prepare. Check your rental agreement to see whether your property manager can inspect the property without you. If you need to be present and have prior commitments, you may be able to negotiate a more suitable time with the property manager.

When does an apartment inspection take place?

Apartment inspections usually take place between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. They can occur infrequently or several times a year, depending on the property manager. Renters have the right to “quiet enjoyment,” so property managers shouldn’t inspect their apartments too often. If you feel your property manager is scheduling too many apartment inspections, you may want to speak to an attorney specializing in renter and property manager relationships.

Can I refuse an apartment inspection?

If the property manager gives you appropriate notice, you can’t refuse an apartment inspection. Agreeing to apartment inspections is part of any rental agreement.

Learn the ins and outs of an apartment inspection before you move into a new apartment. When you do, you and your landlord will be able to address issues and document a property’s condition before you settle into your new home.

Cover image via iStock.com/Bank215

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