Lanlord inspection

annieuNovember 9, 2006

My husband and I have moved into a very expensive (for this market) home. We pay 2200.00 a month and live next door to 2 members of the owners family. We now know that he lives with them as well. WE moved here August 15th and he informed us yesterday that it has been almost three months and he wants to do an inspection. WE made it clear ourselves and with our realtors that we wanted privacy and unwarranted inspections and visits would not be acceptable. We said if that were the case, we would not enter into a lease as we wanted our privacy guarded and respected. He assured us that the inspection clause was only put in, if they felt something bad was going on in the home. There isn't anything going on at all, again we live next door to him and his family. He also informed us, that they woudl want to do these periodically, just to make sure everything is ok.

I can't take inspections and my privacy continually. What are they allowed to do, and how often must we comply? I am prepared to retain an atty if necessary. The typical rental maket in Richond Indiana is about 750.00, so we are well above avg,and want the privacy and respect we deserve.

Any help on this?

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Many times there's a requirement for them to give you advance notice, which he has done. I don't know if there's a limit on how OFTEN they can come. Your lease, and any state regulations, would govern that.

I can understand his nervousness, esp. w/ a home. He's probably renting because he can't sell, and may one day WANT to sell, and if the house gets wear and tear, he's in trouble, bcs since he's not a professional landlord, he may not have it in his financial equation to have to do all the little maintenance things; they really add up.

You living next door doesn't mean mold isn't growing in the bathtub caulking, or the carpet isn't getting stained (the faster it gets cleaned, the more effective that will be), the faucet isn't dripping, etc.

Maybe you can discourage future inspections by, before he comes, making a big list of all the little things that need doing--doors that stick, light switches that make funny noises, faucets that drip, cracks in the sidewalk, whatever--and giving it to him before the inspection, saying, "since you're here, you can check out all these things that are wrong, and fix them, because we sure want to keep your property in really good condition for you, and of course we're paying a premium rent, so we really want a premium-quality home."

You might want to wait until the SECOND inspection before you call in the big guns--you're a new tenant, maybe he just needs to see that you're reasonably clean, and he'll chill out. He may also get lazier later. And, if he just walks through and says "fine, good," it may not feel so intrusive and you might be able to just humor him.

    Bookmark   November 9, 2006 at 12:00PM
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I'm a property owner/mgr, also in Indiana (homes, not apartments). Your landlord is doing exactly what I would do with new tenants. And it doesn't matter how much rent your're paying. Nor does it matter that he's right next door. He doesn't see what goes on inside. He has no idea at this point how you live, whether you're neat as pins or putting holes in walls during drunken fights. The only way he's going to find out is to check out his property (which he pays taxes, insurance, repairs, maintenance, etc. on). So I would bet at this stage that's exactly why he's doing it. If it were me, and I saw that things were in order, no damage, no unreported leaks/repairs (which happens all the time, and only cause bigger headaches when not addressed early), then I wouldn't be so hasty to show up again in a few months.

I actually seldom do "formal" inspections, because at least several times I year I'm called out for some kind of maintenance or repair. I use that opportunity to take a look around. I'm not trying to invade my tenants privacy, evaluate their decor, or anything like that. Quite the contrary, I'm looking beyond all that to the bones of the house: I look for telltale signs of water leaks, broken windows, pets that have been snuck in, dripping faucets, running toilets, things like that. I have had tenants (twice in past 4 years) yank entire sinks, plumbing and all, off the wall rather than tell me there was a leak. My homes are not dumps: they are neat, tidy, well kept and maintained and I intend to keep it that way.

I've researched this quite a bit and talked to my attorney and Indiana law uses terminology like 'reasonable and necessary' for inspections and notice. If a tenant is locked in a lease and prone to kicking in doors, quarterly inpsections are more than warranted. A conscienscious tenant does not require such frequent monitoring. So in my leases I put that I will give 24 hours minimum notice for repairs/maintenace (say the furnace has malfunctioned and HVAC guy is coming out), but in an emergency I do not have to give notice (fire, flood, extremes like that). In my years of doing this, I have never had to use the "emergency" clause. I always make an effort to give far more notice than 24 hours for general maintenance (cleaning gutters, etc.) and I make every effort to schedule my presence when the tenant is at home. Not always possible, especially when a repairman's schedule is involved, but I do my best. And although I have established relationships with various contractors, I never turn a repairman loose in the house, I'm always there with them (even if the tenant is home) to monitor what's done and pay the bill.

I would encourage you to reign your feelings of being imposed upon in just a bit. Don't start complaining and talking "lawyer" just yet. You might find that will readily backfire. In all likelihood you'll be making more of a pain of yourself than your landlord is willing to deal with and come lease renewal, you'll find yourself not welcome any longer and house hunting again. I had a young couple like that, gave me nothing but grief. It wasn't over a routine inspection, it was over a repair that I had scheduled, and given them two weeks notice for. They threw an absolute fit. And it escalated from there: they threatened, screamed, refused to take or return my calls, instead choosing to communicate via notes dropped in my mailbox, and even sent me a letter from an atty half way across the country (a relative who was a new law school grad, this person was not only not licensed to practice in this state, they didn't even spell my name correctly on correspondence. It was a joke). I wanted those brats out and I made sure they knew it: I told them one more instance of them attempting to block me from doing a repair, and they would not be welcome at our home come renewal in a few months. Her response was typically snotty. And three weeks later they broke their lease and moved. I was never so delighted to see tenants leave.

Your landlord has what amounts to a very costly investment that he needs to watch out for and it will be standing long after you've moved on. Just let him do it. He'll probably be in and out in less than 15 minutes. Show him you're responsible, have things tidy, be cordial and don't make a fuss and make inferences about your rights. That's the best way to win him over and reassure him that he doesn't have problem tenants on his hands and it will no doubt be a relief for him to not feel obligated to inspect every few months.

    Bookmark   November 10, 2006 at 4:24PM
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