Can a landlord do a walkthrough? Everything You Need to Know

One of the most common questions that arise when we transition to a new residence is, “Can a landlord do a walkthrough of the property? Tenants often wonder about the legality of this practice and whether landlords are permitted to visit their homes without providing any prior notice.

It’s important to know that you have legal rights as a tenant that protect you in these situations. This issue has raised concerns among many renters, especially when landlords visit apartments unexpectedly. Let’s find out the answer to the frequently asked question, “Can a landlord do a walkthrough?”

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What exactly does a walkthrough mean?

A walkthrough is an inspection of a rental property that landlords conduct with tenants. It allows landlords to document the condition of the property at various stages. Can a landlord do a walkthrough when a new tenant moves in? Yes, and it is considered a best practice.

During a move-in walkthrough, the landlord and tenant jointly inspect the property and note any existing issues. This collaborative approach not only creates a record for future reference but also nurtures a positive landlord-tenant relationship based on mutual understanding and cooperation.

Can a landlord do a walkthrough?

Routine and Move-Out Walkthroughs

Landlords typically conduct walkthroughs under specific circumstances. For instance, when tenants give notice they will move out, a move-out walkthrough is conducted to assess repairs beyond normal wear and tear. This ensures security deposits are not unjustly retained and sets clear expectations for tenants.

Periodic walkthroughs, such as yearly or bi-yearly check-ins, are not intended to be intrusive but are essential for property maintenance and your safety as a tenant. Landlords conduct these to ensure standards are being upheld and to identify any emerging issues that require attention, ensuring your living environment remains safe and comfortable.

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Both landlords and tenants have specific legal rights and obligations regarding walkthrough inspections of rental properties. These laws can vary significantly between states and counties, but some standard provisions allow for walkthroughs. Being aware of these variations can help you feel more informed and prepared.

In most jurisdictions, landlords are legally permitted to perform a move-in walkthrough with reasonable notice given to tenants.

What is a reasonable notice?

‘Reasonable notice’ typically means providing advance notice periods ranging from 24 hours to a few weeks, depending on location. Some places also allow landlords to conduct annual or bi-annual inspections by giving proper notice.

Can a landlord do a walkthrough without notifying tenants first?

In many areas, landlords must provide written notice stating the date and time of entry before entering a property. Tenants have the right to refuse entry if reasonable notice is not given.

It’s important to understand that emergency access is allowed only in urgent situations to ensure the property’s and its occupants’ safety and security. Some states also restrict landlords’ access between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

The landlord’s rights and the tenants’ protections regarding property walkthroughs are designed to strike a balance. These regulations can vary significantly between states and countries, and additional rules may apply regarding repairs, utility disruptions, or the presence of third parties such as contractors.

Types of Walkthroughs

Landlords use different types of walkthroughs at various rental stages to ensure the property is well-maintained and any issues are addressed promptly.

Pre-move-in Walkthroughs

Pre-move-in walkthroughs, also known as move-in inspections, let landlords document the property’s condition before a new tenant moves in. This is crucial because it protects landlords if any issues come up later.

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During Tenancy Walkthroughs

Can a landlord do a walkthrough during a tenancy as well? Absolutely. Many landlords perform routine inspections periodically, like annually, to spot maintenance needs and ensure the property is managed correctly. Tenants usually get advance notice when this type of inspection will happen.

Pre-move-out Inspections

Before tenants plan to move out, landlords will usually schedule a pre-move-out inspection. This lets tenants point out any current problems so the landlord can make repairs. It also helps landlords determine what cleaning or repairs might be needed after the move-out.

Post-move-out Walkthroughs

Finally, a post-move-out walkthrough occurs after tenants have completely moved out. This last inspection confirms that the property has been fully cleaned and restored to its move-in condition minus normal wear and tear. Any necessary deductions can then be made from the security deposit.

Tips for landlords on preparing for a walkthrough

Are you a landlord getting ready for a property walkthrough? Here are some helpful tips to ensure you’re well-prepared for the upcoming inspection.

  1. Bring all your property documentation, such as the original move-in inspection reports, photographs of the property’s condition, and a checklist of items to review. Being organized will help the process go smoothly.
  2. Always follow state notice requirements and notify tenants of the date and time you’ll be entering. More notice is always better to ensure everyone’s schedules align.
  3. Walkthroughs are your chance to examine the property from top to bottom fully. Open all cabinets, check under sinks, and flip light switches on and off. Leave no space uninspected so you don’t miss any issues.
  4. Use your checklist to note your findings room by room. Minor wear, like scuffs or stains, should be noted so nothing is overlooked. Snap extra photos for your records as well.
  5. If you find maintenance needs, set a timeline to complete repairs. Document plans to fix items in a follow-up letter. Timely maintenance will prevent minor problems from becoming more extensive and impacting future move-outs.
  6. Ask tenants if they’ve noticed any other problems since the last inspection. Work together to identify and remedy concerns so you can all feel comfortable with the property’s condition.
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Can a landlord do a walkthrough?

How tenants can prepare for a landlord walkthrough?

A well-prepared home not only makes a good impression but also helps avoid potential disputes over the property’s condition. Here’s a handy guide to help you prepare for your next walkthrough, ensuring your rental looks its best and any issues are addressed proactively.

  • Thoroughly clean all rooms, surfaces, appliances, and windows. Pay extra attention to high-traffic areas like bathrooms, kitchens, floors, and carpets. A sparkling, clean home makes a great impression.
  • Put away personal items and straighten up clutter to show off the maximum living and storage space. If the home feels too full, consider temporarily packing away non-essentials.
  • Do your walkthrough with the landlord’s previous reports to spot any new issues that have come up since the last inspection. Jot these down so you can point them out proactively.
  • Take care of straightforward fixes like replacing light bulbs, tightening loose knobs or handles, or touching up minor paint needs. Don’t leave low-cost solutions to potential problems for the landlord to find.
  • Confirm the inspection date and time, your rights to be present, and request a follow-up repairs list. Keeping an open line of communication helps inspections go smoothly and avoids surprises or confusion later on.