Apartment inspections can be stressful and tense for the occupant. You typically go through an apartment inspection when it is time to renew the lease or when moving out. Since your lease agreement or your security deposit could be riding on that inspection, it is important to know what will happen during and after it.
Why Pass an Apartment Inspection?
The apartment inspection will hopefully get you your security deposit back, but it is also for helping out the landlord, property manager, and any potential future tenants. Nobody wants broken appliances or broken windows in the apartment they are renting out.
This is why you, as a tenant or former tenant, have to keep up with the terms of the lease agreement. Part of this will outline what you have to do to maintain the apartment and make it presentable on a regular basis. Learn how to read an apartment lease here.
What Does a Landlord Look for in an Apartment Inspection?
The property manager gets the reassurance that they will not have to pay for any deep cleaning services, repair large broken appliances, or deal with anything other than normal wear and tear in an apartment.
Since this is much more than a routine inspection, the landlord must look for serious issues and ensure that the apartment is in good shape.
Here are a few specific points that you should consider beforehand:
Any signs of breaching the lease
The landlord or manager will check for pet hair, which might be a sign that you are breaking the no-pets clause. If the lease does not allow smoking indoors and you break that clause, the signs will be pretty evident. There will be a certain kind of odor, the window panes might be yellow, and there might be tobacco stains on the furniture.
This applies to the appliances that were in the apartment on the move-in date. While normal wear and tear will break or damage some appliances over time, most landlords can only hold you responsible if the damage was out of the ordinary.
Broken walls or windows
Both of these are issues that present a threat to the safety and comfort of a home. They need urgent fixing before renewing any lease or allowing a new tenant to come in.
Warped or otherwise damaged flooring
Damaged floors are not just unsightly, but they can also present a tripping risk. Units with hardwood floors are more vulnerable to this issue. That is why it makes sense to keep an eye out.
What Happens if You Fail an Apartment Inspection?
Now comes the big question of what will happen if we fail an apartment inspection. Wondering what you should brace yourself for? Let’s have a look.
1. Difficulties in Finding a New Home
If the apartment inspection took place due to your action of moving out, failing could make it harder to find a new place to live. Your property manager or landlord may not give a recommendation to future authorities. A lot of places require your rental history, so you may not even stay on the list of potential new candidates for your desired apartment.
2. Forfeiting the Security Deposit
As we have mentioned before, you may not get your security deposit back. Or, at the very least, you will not get all of it back. The landlord or manager could keep a part of it back in order to pay for the required cleaning of your apartment or repairs you have left in your wake.
That security deposit also will not come in handy towards getting your new apartment. In a nutshell, you would be back to square one and have to save up for a new deposit, first and last month’s rent, etc.
What To Do About It
At the end of the day, it is usually better to ensure that your security deposit for an apartment is refundable. Even if you can afford to lose it, it is not wise to leave your previous apartment on negative terms.
3. Lease Not Renewed
If you want to renew your lease, but fail the inspection, the owner might deny your request. This will leave you in the lurch, scrambling to find accommodation for the near future.
Here are a few ways to make sure you are not in the unenviable situation:
Before Signing the Lease
- Make sure to read the lease conditions before signing it in the very beginning
- Ask a lot of questions before the actual signing
- Make sure that each condition is clear and that you understand them completely
- See if you are willing to comply with each condition and can fulfill them all
Know About Further Expectations
- There might be the usual restrictions about indoor smoking and an apartment pet policy, but some unusual requirements as well – for instance, you might be expected to mow the lawn or not be allowed to grow certain plants
After Visiting the Apartment
- Make a list of any damage that was already there upon your move-in – stains on the wall, a cracked pane; it is even better if you took pictures and sent them to the manager right away. Keep them safe so that you have proof during the apartment inspection.
- Regular maintenance and cleaning to prevent permanent stains, broken things, etc.
Be Proactive to Avoid Failing the Apartment Inspection
If you have made some changes to make an apartment feel like home, use the right equipment to quickly repair the minor damage. Fill in any small holes you have made with spackling paste before the inspection, make sure to use painter’s tape during a painting project, invest in a steam cleaner, and so on.
4. Receiving a Written Notice
If you fail an apartment inspection, you will first get a written letter outlining all the deficiencies that cause the failure. If possible, you may request a re-inspection at a later date.
5. Annual Inspections and their Aftermath
Most apartment complexes have at least a yearly inspection. If you fail this, your reinspection will probably be scheduled for at least 35 days in the future. The actual repairs should take place within at least 30 days.
The letter about the failed inspection should reach both the tenant and the property owner. This will ensure that the person in charge of the repairs should be aware of them well in time. If there are any emergency repairs to make (learn what is considered emergency maintenance in an apartment here), they might only get a grace period of 24 hours.
Responsibilities of the Owner
It is up to the property owners to ensure that all the repairs are up to date. They also have to make sure that the tenant or owner (whichever is required) is present when the repeat inspection takes place.
6. A Possible Abatement Status (for Some Areas)
If no one is present at the time and there is another failed inspection, the present unit will fall under the “Abatement” category. This means that the owner of the property will get a notice from the relevant inspection company about losing out on some assisted payments until the next month or until they can make the unit pass inspection.
If the apartment stays in this status for too long, the landlord might get a termination letter. The tenant may then get a notice to look for housing elsewhere. In this case, the tenant will have to pay the entire contract rent after the contract termination date if they don’t leave the unit.
7. Paying Specific Fees
Instead of losing the security deposit (or if the deposit is not enough to cover the damage), you may have to pay specific fees after a failed inspection. Here are some examples:
Growing mold, permanent stains, and other issues could lead to major cleaning fees on your part. To avoid this, you might want to perform a deep clean before the inspection yourself.
A lot of rented units have contract clauses that prevent tenants from smoking indoors. This makes sense, as smoking can lead to discoloration and damage as well as being a fire hazard. If there is evidence that you have broken this clause, you may need to pay up for cleaning, repairing, or even replacing certain items.
Paying for Water Damage
You may not be directly responsible for water damage caused by leaks, seepage, inclement weather, or weak structures. However, you are responsible for alerting the people in charge of repairing such issues. If you neglect this, you may have to deal with the damage on your own in order to avoid a failed inspection.
Getting your security deposit back is a great perk of living in an apartment. This can help you with the deposit for a new apartment, or perhaps, even a down payment for your own home! If you want that deposit back or that lease renewed, though, this might be the time to get out that stain remover or call a professional to check out any damaged flooring.
One can’t really blame the landlord for wanting everything to be perfect for the next new tenant’s move-in date. If you do not want to suffer penalties for failing an apartment inspection, now is the time to repair, maintain, or work on anything outside of normal wear and tear. Here are a few maintenance tips for apartments that can help you pass that apartment inspection with flying colors!