Landlords can regularly enter rental property to inspect for compliance with the law and lease. This right has strict limitations.
Landlord’s Right to Enter for Inspections
Landlords have a right to enter for inspections. This applies in every state by default. The landlord’s duty to maintain rental property implies the rights necessary to carry out that duty, such as inspection.
Some state statutes don’t mention inspections, like in Idaho. Landlords can still enter to inspect in these states.
Even when the lease tries to reduce the right to inspect, most courts won’t enforce such terms. The law discourages landlords from avoiding legal responsibilities or related rights.
How Often Can a Landlord Inspect?
It’s rare for a landlord to have a specific restriction on frequency or manner of inspections.
Inspections must relate to the tenancy, meaning potential code or lease violations. Other purposes are, in general, illegal.
The standard, instead, is whether the landlord acts in a “reasonable” way. What’s reasonable depends on the specific facts of a given situation.
How Courts Determine What’s “Reasonable”
Necessity is the main factor that determines whether something about an inspection is reasonable. It’s usually tenant harassment to inspect with a frequency, manner, or purpose that isn’t necessary.
Necessity is easiest to analyze when inspecting for code compliance. The specifics of the inspection must relate to legal housing standards.
The same basic rules apply to lease compliance inspections. Leases are often written by the landlord, so it’s easier for a landlord to use lease terms for harassment. Courts thus tend to take a more critical look at lease-related inspections, in case the landlord has bad intentions.