Ask LH: Can My Landlord Ask That I'm Not At Home For Inspections?

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Dear Lifehacker, My new landlord has made some odd requests that don't really sound right, like wanting me to be out during inspections. My question is, is the owner of a property you are renting allowed to ask that you are not at home during an inspection? Thanks, Linda

Dear Linda,

That does sound a bit odd, as your landlord shouldn't have any reason to be in your home without you. Luckily, you have rights as a tenant, the main one being the right to 'reasonable peace, comfort and privacy' in the house you are renting. This means that landlords have to abide by a number number of fairly strict rules if they want to visit the premises.

The rules are different in each state, so it's worth checking your state's tenancy act or tenant's union. Generally, your landlord can only enter your home for certain reasons, such as quarterly or biannual inspections, and must either get your permission or give you due notice before entering. Landlords aren't allowed to organise inspections on public holidays or any time between 8pm and 8am unless the tenant gives permission.

While a tenant doesn't have to be at home for an inspection, it is generally highly recommended by most relevant bodies. Tenants are also allowed to reschedule in order to choose a time that better suits them to be home. As Tenants NSW describes, problems can arise when tenants aren't home for inspections:

If you cannot be there, try to arrange for someone to be there on your behalf. People entering the premises when you are not there may be a problem for your insurance. Ask your insurance company about this.

While it's highly likely that your landlord asking or requiring you to be absent for inspections is some dodgy dealing, the situation is not explicitly mentioned. Your best bet if you think your landlord is breaching your tenancy agreement is to reach out to your local tenants advice and advocacy group. Tenant Help has a good state-by-state list of groups to get you started. Good luck!

Cheers Lifehacker

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Comments

    As a renter I wanted to be there every inspection, if only to answer questions and allegations made on the day.

    As an owner, I'd definitely be wanting the tenant there, to a) avoid accusations of theft or other illegal stuff, and b) to answer any questions I wanted to ask. Questions that may be as much about the real estate doing their job as anything else.

      Agreed. The law is there to protect both parties, so why subvert it?

      As an owner myself I'd question the reasons for this owner's need. I'd ask the owner, or his agent, why.

    yeah that seems super suspect to me, theres no legitimate reason why it should matter if your there, at best they once had a bad experience with a bad tenant and simply don't want to risk being yelled at or attacked but in that case they should get the rental agency to do it for them.

    i would not let it happen while your not there even if you have to trick them to make it happen

    Dear Linda, the pervert just want to rummage through your panty drawer while you're not there.

    If the property is managed by a rental company, let them know. As it's very unorthodox. They'll set them straight.
    The owner may also be looking to flip the place for a quick sale, so might not want you on site whilst it's discussed (so you don't cut and bolt and they are stuck trying to find a short term rental), especially if renovations are being planned.

    As a landlord I struggle to have my tennant actually be home for inspection or maintenence, often canceling the day before I'm due on site (even when booked weeks in advance with reminders). I refuse to go on site unless another party is present (when I get the run around I organise to have my property manager with me). Especially in the case if a tennant has dogs.

    " is the owner of a property you are renting allowed to _ask_ that you are not at home during an inspection?"

    Definitely. However, you can always decline the request.

    As a landlord, i've had times where I couldn't coordinate with a tenant and conducted an inspection without a tenant being present (I don't like that for many reasons, but occasionally it's very difficult to coordinate).

    Having also been a tenant, if I couldn't accommodate 3 requested inspection times, I would understand why a landlord would ask to inspect without me being there.

    As far as I know, there is nothing wrong with a landlord asking. I don't agree with them starting as their opening position, but asking for something that is not against the law is acceptable. I'm familiar with property management laws in 3 states and there is no law in those 3 states that forbids inspection and/or repairs without a tenant being present. I can't vouch for all states though.

    In fact the opposite is true. You are well within your rights to insist that you *are* present during inspections.

    Unless law enforcement kicks down your door with a warrant or probable cause...
    or fire fighters / paramedics enter trying to save life or property.

    Any and all entries (landlord / agent / govt inspection / fire safety / tradies) into a property you are renting must give notice prior and give you the option to be present. Even if its an emergency repair requiring immediate entry, they must at least contact you and clearly explain the reason of entry.

    As long as your rent is paid up you have the absolute right to be there.

    I would say almost certainly that the reason the owner doesn't want you there is because he/she wants to sell the property from under your feet and it's having an agent come through at the same time to value it. Has happened to me on too many occasions! It's always a dead giveaway when they want to 'arrange a valuation just for tax purposes' as well. I'm sorry to say but given that request from the landlord I'd be staying to look for another place ASAP.

    Unless of course the landlord has a hidden trapdoor with sequestered nazi war treasures that he wants to retrieve without you seeing, that's another possibility but a more likely scenario if you were living in Europe ;-)

    PS - you could always agree not to be present and then load your pad up with recording devices to find out what the owner is really up to

    They can ask. You can say no.

    There's nothing particularly dodgy about a landlord wanting to show the new tenant around without the old tenant around to cramp his/her style. You might scare off the new tenant. You might point out "features" the landlord would rather have overlooked. You're certainly not particularly interested in doing a sales job, what benefit is there for the landlord in having you there?

    But you're also entirely within your rights to insist on being there.

    Personally, I know people who specifically asked out of being present when the landlord brought people through. Didn't want to have to stand around for half an hour doing nothing but watching a stranger be judgmental of their furniture and cleaning skills (or lack thereof).

    I think being there is smart, just to make sure nothing gets stolen, there's no indecent prying through your stuff, etc. But just sit in the corner and read or surf the internet or something and don't get in the way.

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