Renter's Privacy Rights

windsong32899July 14, 2006

Management is doing quarterly maintenance inspections. To me, this is invasion of my privacy.

I can understand yearly inspection, but every 3 months? What if they want to do it every week? Just exactly what rights do tenants have in this area?

I lived in my previous apartment for 5 years. Management never had any reason to enter my apartment unless I asked them to fix something.

Does anyone have a similar experience?

Does anyone know if Management is breaking any tenancy privacy laws?

Thank you for your thoughts.

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Tenants sue because there are gas leaks, smoke detectors that don't work, mold, etc. so yes, management has the right to conduct inspections with reasonable notice. You are entitled to ask if they have a check sheet and what they
are looking for.
They usually don't send Martha Stewart over to check for dust. Those guys are usually checking the pilot lights, smoke detectors, forced air units, and sometimes they spot the occasional pit bull or meth lab.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2006 at 9:20PM
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Marge that is exactly right, sometimes they find more then a broken smoke detector! Sometimes they find tenants at their worst too! LOL!
We have an inspection once a year here and when they came last time 2 of my children and myself had the stomach flu. It was a disaster in our place since we had been so sick. I knew they were coming but hubby was working over time and he couldn't help me to pick up as much as I would of liked. BUt they came and saw me on the couch in my nighty in all my glory! Kids throwing up and the smell of pepto bismal in the air! hahahaha!

I would check with your state laws and your lease. I know our lease states that they have yearly inspections and must give 72 hours notice.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 3:57AM
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You're probably a perfectly good, law abiding tenant. And I can understand how you feel, I'm a very private person myself, and therefore make every attempt to exercise the Golden Rule and treat my tenants the way I'd like to be treated.

But mgmt/owner/landlord has every right to inspect their property and maintain its structural integrity. The building itself will still be standing (hopefully intact) long after the tenant has moved on. Personally, I do maybe two "official" inspections per year, and I'm not there wearing a white glove or to cast judgement on contents or personal lifestyle (as long as it doesn't violate the law or damage the property). Maintaining a building is costly enough, but minor repairs or maintenance that go unnoticed and/or unaddressed do not mend themselves. Today's leaking roof is next year's mold inside the walls, if left unaddressed or gone unnoticed.

Commonly used lease language states the owner/agent has the right to inspect with "reasonable due notice" given the tenant (some states stipulate this time period, mine does not so I try to give a week and it's always when tenants are home). I also use the common language that in case of emergency (fire/flood, etc.) advance notice is not necessary, and also that tenants will not make it unnecessarily difficult for owner/agent to enter the premises to repair/maintain/inspect.

Here are a few examples (extreme) of what I've encountered during an inspection that could have had disastrous consequences:
-tenant has a leaking pipe under bath sink, doesn't alert me, simply yanks the whole works (sink included) from wall. Result: sewer gas seeping into the home, which contains very small children.
-tenant fancies himself quite the handyman, one long weekend decides to put a "gym" in the basement, without my permission. Constructs it of 2x4s, drywall, a door, alters some wiring. Nice room, really. Result: he just turned a 3 bedroom dwelling into 4, and the unfinished basement is no longer unfinished. Should the county assessor have discovered it before me at their impending reassessment, it would have sent my already high property taxes through the roof and tenant's going to have to help absorb the cost till I tear down the room and go through red tape of appealing the assessment with the county.
-discover that although house contains multiple clean, warm, dry bedrooms, tenant has opted to throw a bare mattress on unfinished basement floor and tuck his two small children into bed there (youngest not yet toddling). Thoughtful dad that he was, to "keep them comfortable" he simply pulled apart the main furnace duct work to force more warm air into the basement. Moral and ethical issues of his actions aside, imagine what would have happened (and who would have been sued) had there been a fire during the night?

Just some reasons why an inspection is not meant to be an invasion of your privacy (nor should it be carried out in such a manner).

    Bookmark   July 15, 2006 at 10:09AM
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Thanks for everyone's input. I do understand Management's right to inspect the building. I think a yearly inspection is perfectly acceptable. But every three months is excessive.

If major problems can happen every three months, then the building is probably not fit to live (may be I am exaggerating. but you get my point). If it is a minor problems, then it can wait another 3 months.

My feeling is that if there is something wrong, I would be the first one to notice and alert Management, and would I would never attempt to fix it myself.

Anyway, there should be a reasonable balance betweem the rights of tenants and landlords. It seems that if Management can get away with insepctions every 3 months, they can get away with inspections every week.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 3:44PM
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Windsong, I understand your feelings and appreciate that you would notify the landlord if there were problems. Unfortunatly, many tenants would ignore problems such as leaking pipes, leaking toilets, cabnit doors falling off, etc. Many of these problems can be corrected fairly inexpensively if caught early. Many of these problems become very expensive to correct and will only get worse.

Again, it's another situation where the few inconsiderate people make life "less fun" for the rest of us.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 5:34PM
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Quarterly is not bad. My ex-landlord came in every month. He had us leave our rent checks on a clip in the closet that contained the heater and AC return. He would come on the first day of the month, get the rent check, change the AC filters and leave (small complex). He did install thumb bolts on everyone's doors so that he could not just walk in when we were home. He would always knock politely. I lived there for 15 years as the place was always well taken care of.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 6:43PM
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I guess I am just too private a person and not used to these regular intrusions into my home. Had I known about them, I sould not have moved in. Next time, I will definitely ask about the frequency of maintenance inspections.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2006 at 11:49PM
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I currently live in a complex where the management is more visible than my last apartment. We had an inspection here within a few months of us moving in! Where I'd rented before, we never had an inspection (although the LL had come up to see our new baby) but that experience had its own problems.
But the entire complex has to meet a certain code and is randomly inspected to meet code. So technically, we had the place inspected three times in a three month period: when we moved in, an initial inspection a month later by management (plumbing, electrical, smoke detector, machines) and then again by the outside party. We were given ample warning.
As private as I am, I didn't mind them coming in. I'll admit that it does make me feel uncomfortable to have strangers tell me that they can come in whenever they feel like it but hey, I'm renting, it's not my house. And they didn't care that my apartment wasn't spotless- they know I have two toddlers and it was clean enough, considering!
Honestly, I think that every three months isn't a big deal. They shouldn't be looking for anything except what I'd mentioned above.
I wish you the best!

    Bookmark   July 18, 2006 at 11:10AM
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