How many Walkthroughs can the landlord do?

mommyofmanySeptember 2, 2005

We moved into our rental in Spokane, WA this past april, our landlord knew we have four kids 6 and under, and they did a walkthrough a week or so ago to just check up on the place. I let them know it was an inconvenient time as we had not only just gotten back from being away on 2 weeks of vacation, but our vacuum broke a few days after we got back and there was construction going on for the main water lines that gave us intermitent water throughout the previouse week forcing us to only be able to wash before and after construction hours at times.

I appologized for the crumbs on the carpet and 5 loads of laundry needing to me folded on my bed, but other than that they had no complaints other than a csribble on the wall with pen, and told me to get a new vacuum as soon as I was able (my husband was out of town on businesss).

I just recieved a letter stating they are requiring us to have our carpets professionally cleaned within the next 5 days (it's labor day weekend, btw- no one is available to clean the carpet within this time) and they will do a few more walkthroughs, the first being the day after labor day. Our carpet is OLD and green, at that. It's not destroyed or stained- there was only crumbs because of the inability to vacuum. We are still living here! Our lease isnt even up until June of NEXT year!

How many walkthroughs are they allowed to do? And can they force us to pay to have our carpet professionally cleaned even though we are still living here and there isnt any damage ot it? This just really irritates me :-(

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QUICK! Look up your state's "Residential Landlord and Tenant" laws - see the link below.

Meet the landlord at the door with a copy of the law and ask him to point out EXACTLY where the law allows him to have walk-throughs over your objections and require you to hire a professional carpet cleaner.

The law requires you to keep the unit clean, but does not specify HOW it must be done. The landlord CAN give you notice of a "deficiency" and require you to take care of it ...

Under the Landlord-Tenant Act, a tenant is required to:

* Pay rent, and any utilities agreed upon.
* Comply with any requirements of city, county or state regulations.
* Keep the rental unit clean and sanitary.
* Dispose of garbage properly.
* Pay for fumigation of infestations caused by the tenant.
* Properly operate plumbing, electrical and heating systems.
* Not intentionally or carelessly damage the dwelling.
* Not engage in or allow any gang-related activity.
* Not permit "waste" (substantial damage to the property) or "nuisance" (substantial interference with other tenants' use of their property).
* When moving out, restore the dwelling to the same condition as when the tenant moved in, except for normal wear and tear.

BTW - the landlord has probly already broken the law by not giving you any notice. Washington requires 2 days notice!

Landlord's Access to the Rental

The landlord must give the tenant at least a two-day notice of his intent to enter at reasonable times. However, the law says that tenants must not unreasonably refuse to allow the landlord to enter the rental where the landlord has given at least one-day's notice of intent to enter at a specified time to show the dwelling to prospective or actual purchasers or tenants.

Any provision in a rental agreement which allows the landlord to enter without such notice is not valid under the law.

The law says that tenants shall not unreasonably refuse the landlord access to repair, improve, or service the dwelling.

In case of an emergency, or if the property has been abandoned, the landlord can enter without notice.

Here is a link that might be useful: Washington state law

    Bookmark   September 3, 2005 at 5:28PM
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To add to what LazyGardens has posted,,,I spent 9 years as the maintenance supervisor for a large property manager that oversaw 19 apartment complexes with a total of 2300 apartments. During that time I had to testify in court on a number of cases of property abuse. I can tell you from first hand experience that the phrase "Keep the rental unit clean and sanitary." is very arbitrary in the housing courts, and usually biased in the tenants favor.

First of all, when the complex rented an apartent to an individual with four small children it should then go without saying that the apartment is more than likely going to be in a state of disarray almost constantly. That was an assumed risk on the part of the landlord.

In a condition where it could be proven that garbage or soiled diapers were left for days you could make a case for unsanitary conditions, but if it appears that the garbage and disposable diapers are removed from the premisis at least once per day that would be viewed as normal activity.

From the maintenance aspect, perhaps the most difficult decisions to make come when the tenant moves out. When performing the move out inspection you have to make on the spot decisions as to what it "Fair Wear and Tear" versus "Property Abuse". Here again, when you rent to a tenant with children, especially toddlers, it must be assumed that you will find foodstuffs in the carpets, fingerprints, pen, pencil or crayon marks on the walls and perhaps the occassional ding, nick or hole in sheetrock or trim moldings, whereas finding a list of phone numbers written on the kithcn wall near the phone would definitely not be fair wear and tear.

Now in regards to entering the apartment:
In every Landlord Tenant Law I have ever reviewed they make that point very clear.

No Landlord or member of his/her staff may enter the apartment without serving a minimum of a 24hour written notice unless invited in by the tenant.

In the case of Maintenance, when a tenant fills out a maintenance request form, that said form is deemed a written authorization by the tenant to enter the structure, however, that work request is also limited. If the maintenance tech has a workorder to enter the apartment he/she is granted permission to go from the primary entrance to the point of service and return. By example, if you submit a workorder to repair your garbage disposal the maintenance tech may enter and go to the kitchen, this does not grant them permission to be in your bedroom. In fact, I have fired staff members on this point and it stood in the labor court. The only exception is, if the maintenance teck, in the performance of the task at hand needs to go into another room to isolate a ulitily such as turn a water main off or go to the electrical service panel in another room.

There is a bona fide exception to the entrance rule. Example, If a maintenance tech responds to a water leak, and if that leak is coming through the ceiling, that would grant the tech permission to enter the apartment above to try to locate the problem.

Most lease agreements have a specific clause about periodic inspections, by example, it may grant the landlord or hie/her delegate permission to enter the structure at periodic intervals for the purpose of "Pest Control (usually monthly) or inspecting Smoke Alarms and fire extinguishers when required by law. (In some juridictions we are required to check smoke alarms and extinguishers at least once every 6 months.) If the landlord or his/her delegate note unsanitary conditions while in the performance of their normal duty, they are obligated to report the condition and the landlord may then serve a written notice of follow up inspections. The written notice will usually come in the form of a "7 day with cure notice". This means you will be granted a period of 7 days to take corrective action before the landlord can proceed with further action.

You want to really get your landlords attention, first do as Lazygarden stated, get a copy of the "landlord Tenant law" for your jurisdiction. (You can usually get a copy from your local county courthouse law library or you can at least get xerox copies of the points in question)

Next, notify the landlord that his/her conduct is contrary to public law and if they persist you will have no alternative but to file a greivance with the local "Housing court" and until the matter is resolved you will be posting your rent in escrow with the housing court. That will normally back em down real quick, but if it don't then that is your legal remedy, file a complaint with the housing court and instead of paying your rent to the landlord, pay it to the court pending a hearing. As long as your rent is posted on time with the court, the landlord cannot take any action for failing to pay rent.

    Bookmark   September 7, 2005 at 10:41AM
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So what happened?

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 10:46AM
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Sorry! It's been crazy around here! I'm actually pregnant with baby #5, and with my girls in school- my 2 little helpers are gone during the day ;-)

So, Basicly we spent our whole Labor Day vacation scrubbing walls, getting ANYTHING out of the carpet that would be scrutinized- just basicly preparing the house as if we were moving out- a deep clean.
(This isnt an appartment, BTW- it's a house)

I had a phone conversation with the manager in which I just politely shared that I felt the serentiy and peace of my home was being disrupted by multiple walk-throughs for unfounded reasons, in my eyes- and she basicly told me 'tough'- which pricked my hormonal bubble and I broke down over the phone. I actually take the cleaning of my home very seriousely since It's what I do all day as a stay-at-home mother. I have a tough time dealing with people who dont really care too much about others, at least to try and see their side.

She came by an hour and a half early on the day she said with her granddaughter, poked her head in, said, "It's fine." and then left. She didnt look at the floors or walls or carpets or anything really she had mentioned was the reason for her follow up walk through. I actually felt like our weekend as a family was stolen from us.

I'm glad she didnt stick around, but I honestly felt like it was a waste of energy and peace at an already stressful time (my youngest daughter was starting Kindergarten that day).

So, Im just glad it's over and Im weary of October when she said the owner's wife will be in town to go over the progress she had reviewed. I wont accept another un-needed walkthrough. I have enough to do ;-).

Might I mention we have been renters of homes in variouse states for over 10 years now, and I have NEVER had a manager complain of anything of this sort or act like this. Normally we have pretty good relationships with them.

Thanks for reading and listening to my frusteration. :-)

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:04AM
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BTW- when we moved into this home, there was an overwhelming smell of dog urine in the dining room. We submited this problem to the manager, and she had this carpet cleaned a good 3 times- each time making the smell worse and worse.

Finally, they had the floor under the carpet in the corner she felt was most effected, sealed, and it has still smelled since then. It's as if we are eating our meals in a dog's bathroom. Im pretty sure it's years of animal marking damage doing it. (we live in a primarily cedar home)

When the owner came to visit, I mentioned if they ever considered putting lanolium in the dining room, which also has a bar we dont use because there is carpet there, that we would not be opposed to it. It was a simple suggestion that was formally denied as if it was a direct request in the recent letter by my manager saying that "due to the condition of the home at this time, they would be unable to fufill my request to install lanolium in the dining room".


So, here we are- the urine problem of the dining room has still not been effectively dealt with- what should I do from here? I'm not looking for an argument with the property managers or owner, we really just want to live in peace and quiet. We pay $2200 a mo for this home, which is VERY VERY expensive. For an estimated comparison- this is a 4 bedroom home- but a 3 bedroom home down the street is renting for $500 a mo. :-)

This home is not updated with appliances or carpeting, or anything of the sort. It is on a river property, but I feel that for the amount of money we pay in this market- we should have a little more respect. I dont know, am I out of line? Do I have a right to request further work to be done on the dining room even though they have put out effort, however un-successful, to fix it?

Thanks for any suggestions!

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 11:19AM
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fyi--the Landlord Tenant laws apply equally well to a rental house as they do to an apartment.

The problem you normally run into with a house is you end up with a landlord who only has 2 or 3 rentals and they have very little actual knowledge of Landlord Tenant Law.

What most small owner/landlords fail to understand it that while they do retain ownership of the property, once they enter into a lease the leasee is the one who has exclusive access to the property for the duration of the lease and under those circumstances a landlord is bound to the same rules as a perfect stranger in regards to entering the property. They must knock, announce their intentions and you have the legal right to refuse entrance. They may argue with you on that point, but let it go to court and see how fast a judge will set the landlord straiht.

On the other hand, in an apartment complex they have many, many more units to deal with, therefore they have many more problems to deal with and usually have either a manager who is well versed in Landlord Tenant law or at least an attorney or Managers Association that provides them a good working knowledge of the law.

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 5:44PM
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Well, I can completely understand the fact the owner's have just purchased this property and although they are planning on keeping it a rental until they retire (they are in California), they are concerned about possible damage.

However, they also DID know that I had not only 4 kiddos ages 6 and under, but that I have another one on the way. This is very much a family home. I honestly think that the insecurities of the owners shouldnt ruin their renter's lives ;-).

    Bookmark   September 11, 2005 at 5:54PM
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WOW- you are being bullied by these people and paying them big bucks. I can't imagine anyone paying 2200.00 to live in a house in Spokane.If this place is anything less than a castle you are getting ripped off.
Go to your county website and look up the landlord tenant laws. As far as these rude walk throughs they seem to enjoy. Next time just tell them that you haven't found time to be properly dressed but come on in. Have everybody including the adults all in their underwear.Don't be shy, embarrass them. Make them feel uncomfortable. Being PG could really be a plus for you. SO many people freak at the sight of a uncovered PG women as if being PG is a illness. I would make them so uncomforable coming in my house that they would never do it again.Be sure to keep a smile on your face while being over friendly in your underwear.Offer them coffee, act as if you want to be their friend. Take their power away. They are out of line but staying within the laws. Play the same game.Greeting them in your underwear (doesn't have to be revealing, just obviously underwear) is out of line but within the law. Oh yes another trick in keeping pushy landlords back is to knit pik. Every little thing that could warrent a call, use it.If something gets repaired anyway but perfect, putit in writing and make them sign it. I didn't like the less than perfect clalk job in my new tub so I wrote a paper stating the job was just that and I will not be responsible for the condition the tub tile while living here because I didn't believe it would hold up to everyday use. I made them sign it. My landlord stays as far away as possible in fear I will come up with something for them to do. Don't allow them to bully you. They are getting top dollar for that house and I believe they are darn lucky they found someone who will pay it. Have fun and remember you are doing them a favor as long as you pay your rent and treat their place decent and they need to respect you and your family.
Animal urine can be considered a health hazard so make them correct it.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 6:27AM
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I was in customer service oriented positions before I settled down to the laborous work of being a full time stay-at-home-mom. I am always very nice, however annoying my questions on their intentions may be.

I did take a few shots of the home when we were moving in and the outside waterfall that is STILL not functioning:

Again, Im not looking to fight or quarrel with her. It has always been my goal to have a good relationship with people, especially ones you must be in contact with for neccesity. I am trying to think of the best way to request to have th eurine smell taken care of. Now that it's getting colder, we are going to have to heat more often which seems to aggrivate the odor.

I honestly hope this just ends right where it's been left and the rest of our lease is un-eventful.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pictures of the house moving in

    Bookmark   September 12, 2005 at 12:07PM
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MoMany -
GET THE LAW BOOKLET! Ask for three copies and give one to tha manager and one to the owners ... it's possible they doin't know that they are not doing anything wrong.

For $2200 a month, in SPOKANE, I'd expect a palace.

To be honest - start looking for another house.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 8:03AM
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I agree w/ the vote that you start looking for another house.

Make sure you have a really good idea of what you can pay, and how easily you could find a place.

And after that, hard as it is, you start laying the ground work to break your lease.

1) write them a registered letter informing them of the dog-urine problem. If you can document that it might be a health hazard, do so. Since they want to live there eventually, you might say you're worried that the longer the smell from the previous residents stays, the more expensive it will be to eventually get rid of it. Ask that they fix it, and state that it interferes with your "quiet enjoyment,." maybe even point out that you are paying above-market rent because you expected above-market home.

2) if they don't respond, send thema nother letter that says you consider their refusal to act on this to be grounds to break your lease, and that visits you have made to several other properties for rent have shown you that you should not have to live with the smell.

Your only bad outcome would be if they actually fixed the smell--then you'll need to find ANOTHER way to break you lease.

If you can get a home for even $1,500 a month--you'll have $500 A MONTH!! Tell me you couldn't do something more valuable with that money? Like, save up to buy your own place?

Get out as SOON as you can!

Here is a link that might be useful: craig's list has a 4br, 2bth for $1,300!!!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2005 at 12:38PM
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the housing judge ordered the landlord from june 27th through the 28th to repair, what happens if those two days is up, can landlord continue coming in and out of my apartment?

    Bookmark   June 10, 2011 at 11:54AM
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jaime rodriguez, you will get more responses if you start a new message. On the main Apartment Living page, scroll down until you see "Post a message to the forum," and enter your question there.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 12:36PM
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Agree with camlan about starting new post.

Know it's old but wanted to clarify something said above for anyone just reading:

What most small owner/landlords fail to understand it that while they do retain ownership of the property, once they enter into a lease the leasee is the one who has exclusive access to the property for the duration of the lease and under those circumstances a landlord is bound to the same rules as a perfect stranger in regards to entering the property. They must knock, announce their intentions and you have the legal right to refuse entrance. They may argue with you on that point, but let it go to court and see how fast a judge will set the landlord straiht.

I'm an owner/mgr of several rental houses, I've never seen in any state statutes I've read, certainly not in mine, that once a lease is in force a LL is bound to the same rules as a perfect stranger as far as entry. My state requires "reasonable verbal notice". Many states say xx hours or days written notice. So I always give minimum 24 hours, but that's for taking care of an issue that we need to address (say we're checking up on a repaired roof leak after a rain to make sure it's all good). If tenant calls with a problem we get it taken care of asap. I have good relationships with my tenants, so it's typically not a problem to come over same day. Everyone's happy and I don't have a small problem get bigger from not being addressed. If it's just a routine inspection, I'll give at least a week's notice. But I rarely do those, since one of us is in the house commonly several times a year when tenants call when something needs tending to. We just take a quick look around then. (I don't do white glove tests, nor walk all the way through if working in only one area of the home. If tenants are prone to doing damage, it's typically not isolated to one room. So it's easy enough to spot problems in any room, e.g. evidence of holes in walls, broken windows, etc.) Also in the lease is tenant will not deny entry or make unreasonable delays for entry when LL gives due notice.

In case of an emergency, no notice is needed. That's our state statute and in each lease. In the towns our rentals are located, they require registration of the property as a rental, as well as all contact info for owner. It's kept on file in building or water department. Should an emergency arise, such as a fire, they know how to reach the owner. The best thing anyone can do is read and know your State's statutes on Landlord/Tenant law.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2011 at 3:40PM
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