Walk-throughs or inspections of your dwelling are a normal part of the rental experience. But they can become a real nuisance if conducted too often.
In this article, I am going to answer the question of how often a landlord can do a walkthrough of your unit, including some of the key things you want to look at when evaluating this issue.
I’ll also cover related questions including why landlords do them, when they can conduct them (including prior notice requirements), what they are allowed to inspect, and what you can do if you believe the frequency of walk throughs is getting out of hand.
If you don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:
A landlord will often conduct full walkthroughs twice during your tenancy – once during “move-in” and once upon “move-out.” They may also conduct periodic inspections to check if the property is being maintained. However, too many walkthroughs may violate your right of quiet enjoyment so they should not be a regular occurrence.
Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.
The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only. It is not legal advice. You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.
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How Often May Landlords Conduct Walkthroughs?
In general, there is no set limit on the number of walkthroughs that a landlord may conduct, but as mentioned, most landlords will want at least of them – a move-in inspection and a move out inspection.
This is to ensure that everyone is on the same page regarding the condition of the property at the beginning and end of the tenancy.
Your move-in inspection is your chance to identify any pre-existing issues with the property (it’s also your landlord’s chance to get confirmation that the property was in good shape when you moved in).
Your move-out inspection is your chance to show the landlord that the property was returned in good condition (and your landlord’s chance to highlight if it wasn’t).
Your lease will usually cover these two walkthroughs, including exact timing and your right to be present, so make sure to read it carefully to see what it says.
Some landlords also include a provision in the lease that allows periodic inspections during the tenancy. This is to ensure that the property is being maintained properly and to make needed repairs. It is also a chance for the landlord to make sure that a tenant is not violating the lease.
These periodic inspections are typically done on an annual, semi-annual or quarterly basis. They may be done seasonally as well (for example to check your HVAC unit prior to winter or summer). Again, read your lease to see if periodic inspections are covered and how often they may be done.
Are there Legal Limitations on the Number of Walkthroughs?
Under property law, there is a well established right to “quiet enjoyment” in every lease.
This means that a landlord may not unreasonably harass or interfere with a tenant’s right to peacefully enjoy their property.
While periodic but infrequent inspections of the property will likely not be a violation of this right, excessive walkthroughs might.
How much is too much? That’s a hard question to answer, but if the frequency of your inspections is way outside the norm, you may have a reasonable basis for arguing that they are infringing on your right to quiet enjoyment.
Daily or even weekly inspections is probably too much, but if you want a definitive answer, you should consult with a qualified legal adviser.
How Much Notice Must Be Given Before a Walkthrough?
Although your landlord may be allowed to inspect your property from time to time, they will have to notify you first to avoid likely violations of the lease and state and local laws.
States vary on the amount of notice needed (it can be over a week or as little as 24 hours), so you will need to check your state’s landlord tenant laws to find out what’s required in your location.
For your convenience, here’s our 50 state reference table (including D.C.) that will link you to the official landlord tenant laws of your state.
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Obviously, you should also check your lease to determine how much notice is required under that as well.
What’s Usually Covered During a Walkthrough or Inspection
During move-in and move out inspections, landlords will basically inspect every part of every room in the property because they want to get a complete picture of the overall condition of the property.
They usually have a checklist to check for any damage, leakage, pests, and molds. Appliances and other household items will be part of the inspection as well as walls, floors and windows.
A periodic inspection may be a bit more cursory, since it’s purpose is to make sure the property is being maintained well. A seasonal inspection may focus only on on items that are relevant for the upcoming season.
It is important to note that a walkthrough is not a license for your landlord to snoop. They should not be going through your personal effects or really straying outside the scope of what needs to be examined as part of the inspection.
What Should I Do If Walkthroughs Are Excessive?
If you feel like your landlord is conducting way too many inspections, you should talk to them about it. But before doing so, take a look at your lease to see what you both agreed to in terms of inspections.
If they are violating the lease, you should definitely highlight that.
Similarly, check your state and local laws to see if they are operating beyond the scope of what’s allowed in terms of inspections. And remember, even if your lease and state laws are silent on this specific issue, you still have the implied right to quiet enjoyment.
Knowing your contractual and legal rights is the first step in protecting them.
Of course, you should try to be diplomatic and maintain a good relationship with your landlord. Often, just expressing your concern is enough to make them take a more reasonable approach (especially if previous inspections showed that you are not abusing the property).
If walkthroughs continue to be excessive, keep a careful record of your communications with your landlord about this issue, and how often these inspections are happening.
You can then have this information in hand when you talk with your local tenant rights association or a lawyer to see if you have legal remedies.
So there you have it – an answer to how often a landlord may conduct a walkthrough and some tips on how to deal with excessive inspections. Hope this has been helpful and happy renting!