Apartment Building Inspection: An All-inclusive Guide (2024)

By - Chris Barnard
Last Updated - March 28th, 2024 7:34 AM
apartment-model-for-inspection

If you’ve rented an apartment or you’re planning to rent one, an apartment inspection is something you should always be prepared for. 

You see, among other things, assessing the general condition of the rental property is a priority for landlords. After all, they want to make sure you’re meeting your lease obligations and that their property is being maintained as per expected standards. 

And to that end, they might call in for an apartment building inspection after giving you a standard inspection notice. 

Now, as a tenant, it is essential you know what these inspections are all about and what are your rights and responsibilities. This is exactly why I’ve discussed everything about apartment inspections, along with my own insights as a building inspector

So read on and find answers to all the questions you might have about apartment assessments. 

What is an apartment building inspection? 

Before we get into the specifics, let’s first understand what an apartment inspection exactly is. 

For starters, an apartment or condo building inspection is like any other commercial building inspection, which is conducted to assess the property’s existing condition. As such, an apartment inspection checklist will involve the same items that you’ll find on a standard commercial building inspection checklist. 

In fact, you can expect the same inspection procedure involving commercial building inspectors coming in to assess your apartment and preparing an inspection report thereafter. 

However, unlike other commercial property inspections, an apartment inspection is conducted after you’ve rented the apartment and started using it for residential or commercial purposes. Herein, your landlord can get an inspection after notifying you in accordance with your lease terms. 

For instance, let’s say you’ve been living in a rented apartment for the past six months. Now, even though your apartment was inspected before the lease finalization, your landlord can still seek an inspection after due process. 

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What does an apartment building inspection checklist include? 

An apartment inspection involves a walk-through assessment of your rental accommodation as per an inspection checklist. This includes all the building components that are assessed during a typical commercial inspection. 

All in all, here’s a standard apart inspection checklist that building inspectors like myself follow:

Interior inspection checklist

  • Walls 
  • Ceiling 
  • Doors and windows 
  • Flooring 
  • Furniture, blinds, and curtains (if it is included in the rental)
  • Lighting 
  • Electrical components 
  • HVACs
  • Plumbing
  • Fire extinguishing and smoke detection systems 
  • Appliances 
  • Countertops and cabinets 

Exterior inspection checklist 

  • Roofing 
  • Gutter 
  • Garage 
  • Foundation 
  • Outdoor stairs 
  • Patio, deck, and balcony inspection
  • Outdoor doors 
  • Landscaping 

Can the landlord get apartment building inspections during the lease? 

Yes, they can. 

You see, lease agreements often contain clauses such as ‘Right to Entry.’ And these clauses may further mention terms like ‘inspection by the landlord,’ which detail the scope of apartment inspections during the lease period. 

But whatever the wording, the bottom line is that lease agreements allow landlords to get inspections while you’re still residing in your rented property. 

As you might already be aware, lease inspections are part of a specialized inspection scheme called ‘Net Net Net Inspections‘ or ‘NNN inspections.’ So, you can think of an apartment inspection during the lease period as an NNN inspection by the landlord. 

The aim of your landlord here is simple: They want to verify whether or not you’re meeting your lease terms for property maintenance and upkeep. 

How often are apartment buildings inspected by the landlord? 

When it comes to the number of landlord inspections for apartments, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all formula. That’s because how often apartments can be inspected is mentioned in their individual lease agreements, which in turn differ for different apartments. 

However, it is standard for an apartment lease to contain a routine inspection clause for every three or six months. Also, some long-term agreements can mention a yearly inspection by the landlord. 

Nonetheless, it is possible a landlord might insist on getting more frequent inspections, which is not only undue but also unnecessary. Remember, the shortest standard inspection interval is three months. 

So, I suggest you review a lease agreement carefully before finalizing it and also ask your landlord to outline the scope of routine inspection requirements. 

What is the standard notice for an apartment or condo inspection? 

As we discussed earlier, your landlord will notify you before scheduling an inspection of the rental. 

But how long before an apartment inspection do landlords usually send a notice? 

Well, as a standard practice, landlords notify you at least 24-48 hours before the inspection over a call or by dropping in an inspection letter. Herein, they will mention the exact date and time for the upcoming apartment inspection. 

Moreover, your lease agreement might even mention the advance notice period that your landlord is supposed to provide before scheduling an inspection. 

Whatever the case, a landlord can’t come in for an inspection unnotified. Meaning, you can rest assured of prior notice before a routine apartment inspection. 

Read further: Why Regular Balcony Inspections Are Crucial For Older Buildings

How can you prepare for an upcoming apartment inspection? 

So, you’ve just received a routine inspection notice from your landlord, and you’re probably wondering how you can prepare the apartment for the same. In fact, with about 48 hours in your hand, it might feel like a race against time. 

Well, let me tell you that this is sufficient to prepare your apartment for the inspection and ensure everything is up to standards.

To begin with, you can assess the apartment visually and try to spot any problems that might be lurking in rather unnoticed areas. 

You see, no matter how well kept your rental is, this is an important first step that you shouldn’t ignore. That’s because a majority of problems that make your apartment fail an inspection are in the nook and crannies. 

For instance, maybe your shower area is in top shape, but it might still have a dripping tap, indicating a plumbing defect. Similarly, there can be a crack behind the stairs that you could have easily fixed before the inspection. 

Now, not only are problems like these simple to detect, but they can also be easily fixed. Also, fixing them before the routine inspection also signals that you’re meeting your property maintenance due diligence. 

After all, your landlord simply wants to check whether or not you’re following the terms of the lease. 

Have you read: Pre Purchase Building Inspection – What you know before buying

What does an apartment inspection look for? 

A building inspection for apartments, like any commercial property inspection, will look for signs of visual defects. However, while commercial inspections establish a property’s existing condition, the goal here is also to detect potential lease violations. 

For instance, cracks on the walls or roof, moisture intrusion, damaged windows or doors, broken pipes, faulty electrical wiring, etc., are some of the common things inspectors look for. 

Also, you can expect an assessment of appliances such as refrigerators, dishwashers, laundry machines, water heaters, etc. 

At the end of the inspection, your landlord might compare the final report with the pre-lease building condition report. That’s because this will help them establish the extent of lease violation and your liability as the tenant. 

For instance, let’s say you have a broken ventilation system on your hands and a moisture intrusion is caused by a lack of proper ventilation. Now, in this case, your landlord can ask you to pay for the broken ventilation system as well as for the moisture damage.

You might also want to read – What Do Building Inspectors Look For In Commercial Properties

Who inspects apartment buildings? 

Like all commercial buildings, apartments, condominiums, vacation rentals, AirBNBs, etc., are all inspected by licensed commercial property inspectors. And they can be anyone from general contractors to engineers to architects with the required skills and certifications. 

For instance, if your landlord is calling in to inspect your apartment in Florida, it is necessary for the inspector they hire to carry a State of Florida license. 

Furthermore, even though it’s the landlord who is getting the inspection, I suggest you check the inspector’s credentials. That’s because an uncertified and inexperienced inspector might end up preparing a dodgy inspection report. 

How much does an apartment building inspection cost? 

The average cost of inspecting an apartment ranges between $1300 and $2500. However, the actual inspection cost will depend on various factors such as your apartment’s location, size, age, etc., to name a few. 

For instance, while inspecting a small condominium unit will cost less, that can’t be said for a single-family AirBNB. 

Now, even though it’s your landlord who will bear the cost of apartment inspection during the lease period, it is essential you have a grasp of the inspection cost breakdown. That’s because you might still have to get an inspection, at your expense, at the end of or during the lease to ensure you’re not violating any lease terms. 

Curious about how much you’re going to pay for an apartment inspection? 

You can go through our blog on Commercial Building Inspection Cost

6 tips to pass an apartment building inspection with flying colors 

No matter how well maintained your rental apartment is, there’s always a possibility that you might fail an inspection. And there are numerous reasons for that ranging from hidden damages to appliance failure and more. 

But what if I told you that by fixing some basics, you can pass your apartment inspection rather easily? 

Yes, you’ve heard it right. 

Here are my inspector tips that you can follow no sooner you get an inspection notice from your landlord: 

#1. Review all your lease terms 

You can start by reviewing all the terms and conditions mentioned on your lease documents, especially those that deal with maintenance. 

For instance, your lease may mention certain cleanliness and hygiene requirements. Similarly, it might have some requirements for pets, guests, visitors, etc. 

So, by reviewing these terms, you can ensure that you’re compliant. 

#2. Check for damages 

From a minor scratch in the wall to a broken door handle or window pane, there could be damages within the property. 

As per standard lease terms, it is the tenant’s responsibility to fix such damages that occur during the lease period. Meaning your landlord can ask you to pay for these damages.

And that’s exactly why it makes sense to look for and fix these damages beforehand. 

#3. Look for unauthorized home additions 

From a pet house to a steam shower and more, there are a lot of home additions that people go for in their apartments. 

But before moving ahead with such projects, it is essential that you seek your landlord’s permission. 

You see, apartment inspections will look for unauthorized home additions. And if found, your landlord can fine you for the same. 

#4. Run an appliance check 

Simple as it sounds, checking the functioning of electrical appliances is essential. 

It is always possible for some appliances to malfunction at the time of inspection. So it’s better you check their functioning before the inspection and if needed fix them. 

#5. Fix electrical damages 

We all like to be creative when decorating our personal spaces. And oftentimes, it involves installing mood lights, lamps, playstations, aroma diffusers, etc. 

Now, the problem arises when you resort to installing additional electrical wirings or altering existing electrical systems. Not only does this pose safety risks but also violates lease terms. 

I suggest you check these electrical components before the inspection and ensure they’re in order. 

#6. Get a pest control 

Pest infestations are a common sight in homes. And even though you’re not responsible for causing a pest infestation, you do need to pay for pest control if it has happened during the lease. 

As such, it’s better to get pest control before the inspection and steer clear of unwanted liabilities. 

You might also want to read – What’s The Difference Between PCA & FCA In Commercial Real Estate?

To sum up 

As you can see, it is important to keep prepared for an inspection if you reside in a rented apartment. After all, your landlord can serve you an inspection notice at any time, depending on the inspection terms mentioned in your lease agreement. 

And one good way to prepare your apartment is by following an apartment building inspection checklist and visually assessing the property yourself. 

Not to mention, you can always hire your own commercial building inspector if you sense defects and want to be sure about them. 

In fact, you can always reach out to us!

At Florida Commercial Building Inspectors, we are seasoned property assessment experts with over two decades in the industry and multiple certifications of excellence. And we’ve got all your apartment inspection requirements covered on a budget.

Read further: Warehouse Inspection Checklist: 12 Things To Inspect For Safety

Chris Barnard

Hi there! I am Chris Barnard, a licensed building inspector and the founder of Florida Commercial Building Inspectors. With over two decades in the inspection industry, I’ve delivered thousands of commercial and residential inspections across various states. During all these years, I’ve developed detailed insights on the ins and outs of building inspections, something I look forward to sharing with you through my blogs.

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