How Often is it Reasonable to Have Your Apartment Inspected?


“Dear PoPville,

My apartment building does mandatory inspections at least twice a year. They write people up for having dishes in the sink, clothes on the floor, etc. If you receive a violation, they come back (without your permission or you being there) to make sure that you have nothing on the floor / in the sink, etc. They also send in pest control people into every unit at least twice a year. So four times a year, my apartment is entered without my permission. They let us know this is happening by slipping flyers under our door somewhere between 48 hours to 24 hours in advance.

I keep my apartment extremely clean and never leave any dishes in the sink, dirty clothes on the floor, etc. but I find it really scary that someone (who knows who) is entering my apartment without me being able to be there. I travel often for work and the last time these inspections happened, I returned and found the flyer under my door, my apartment had clearly been entered, my bowl of little earrings had been knocked over and some were missing (probably from falling down cracks) but still – I was pretty unsettled about this. I emailed the building to ask them to never enter my apartment without me being there and they never responded. I then showed up in person to the leasing office and asked them to please not enter my apartment without me being there and they said that those were not the rules and that they were set by Borger Management who runs the building.

Since the women who work the leasing office seem to have no power to stop these inspections, how can I get my apartment building to stop entering my apartment without me being there? I like my apartment and I want to keep living there but I don’t really feel very safe knowing someone from the building is entering my apartment without my knowledge multiple times a year.”

50 Comment

  • These inspections seem perfectly reasonable to me.

    • Yeah, if you’re 13 and living in your parents’ home…

      What impact could leaving your clothes on the floor possibly have on the other residents or building management?

      • Could be used to prevent hoarders from piling up a ton of crap. Rather than take the position of saying you can’t have piles of stuff laying around, but you can have piles of clothes, they just have a zero tolerance policy.

  • Why would your landlord care if you have clothes on the floor? That’s bizarre.

  • I’m not sure you can stop this one, and they are giving you notice based on what you said. The fact that you travel and can’t receive notice where provided can maybe be fixed. Maybe the agent can call or email when notice goes out. Are these inspections mentioned in your lease? If not, then you could have some recourse there as it should be mentioned if for no other reason than you expect to be able to leave a dish in the sink as a normal part of having an apartment.
    Has anything ever gone missing beyond the earrings which may have fallen out?

  • Were those rules set out in the contract you signed? If so, then you’re probably stuck. If not, then I’d actually talk to an attorney (though moving out would probably be easier).

    As an aside, I’m no stranger to occasionally (i.e. regularly) leaving dishes in the sink to soak, or tossing clothes on the ground. Is that really so bad? Might be a bit messy, but seems totally different from leaving food out (a bug/rat hazard) or creating a fire hazard by hoarding. I don’t see the negative impact to the community or the building from a resident leaving his/her clothes on the floor.

  • Emmaleigh504

    My apartment gets inspected twice a year to check the fire extinguisher and change the batteries in the smoke alarm. Thank goodness we don’t get written up for clothes on the floor! My lease also says they can enter when I’m not there for maintenance/emergencies. They have had to enter without permission a few times (old building, old pipes) but have always called to tell me, and they clean up any mess that is made. My kitchen got flooded once and it was cleaner after than before!

  • What’s your lease say?

  • This sounds like my old place! We had maintenance coming in all the time, which was a problem because my dog is not friendly to unfamiliar people. I asked them to give 24 hours notice so I could stick her in daycare, but that never seemed to happen. What did work was leaving a note on my door asking maintenance to call me to receive permission before entering.

    • emvee

      I had this, too. My dog doesn’t bark unless he doesn’t know the person. In the case of maintenance, he of course wouldn’t know them and would bark up a storm. And the worst was the day I came home home to find out they’d taken all of my clothes from my closet and thrown them on my bed/floor because “they were looking for the fuse box.” I was ecstatic to leave that place.

  • DC tenant law requires landlords to give 10 days notice before an inspection. They should know this.
    Call the Office of Tenant Advocate to confirm.
    It’s absolutely ridiculous that they are “writing up” tenants for having clothes on the floor or a few dirty dishes in the sink. WTF.
    My guess is that it’s their way to create a paper trail and force the tenant to eventually eat the cost of a future pest extermination.

    • Ten days? We only get two days tops. It is tricky for people who are rarely there like my neighbor or other part-time DC residents. My neighbor complains that the letters left on doors reveal to everyone that no one is home. He has complained about it to management, but they never slide the stuff under our doors. The joys of renting!

    • They already do pest control, so I don’t see that being the reason. I imagine it came about because some building they ran had a bunch of filthy people, so the rule stuck. Ten days seems a bit much, but hopefully that amount of time will work better for op.

    • What law is that? Maybe 10 days notice for move out inspection

    • I do not believe there is any such requirement in DC. DC has a “reasonable” amount of time notification requirement or something like that. There is no 10 day notification

    • False. I think 24 hours is standard.

    • Not true. No notice is required for entry for any reason, although 24 hours is “recommended.” The 10-day notice you referenced applies to move-out inspection.

  • Not a lawyer, but you probably have a fairly standard clause in your lease that says something like…

    Access: Landlords, employees, contractors or subcontractors may enter the Premises at all reasonable times and upon reasonable notice to tenant to conduct inspections, make necessary or desired repairs or improvements, blah blah blah

    I agree that it sucks but you’ve probably agreed to something like this through your lease.

  • I believe they are required to give you notice for routine inspections (which are allowed). My building seems to be on a twice a year schedule- in the past, we’ve been up to 3-4 inspections. They are not required to give notice for emergencies, but the unannounced visits after a problem was found are a little weird. I would consult your lease and DC tenant law. Your circumstances wouldn’t be ideal to me. Regardless, if you have any valuable jewelry, I would be very careful storing/hiding it. I bring an expensive ring with me to work every day just on the off chance someone sketchy comes in with our maintenance dude. The maintenance guy himself seems ok, but you don’t want to give people temptations. An heirloom necklace of mine remains with my parents. I guess there are advantages to owning!

  • They “write people up” for dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor? What is this, boot camp? That sounds really unreasonable. I don’t know about their right to enter your apartment, how many times, and what notice they are required to give you, but looking for these particular kinds of “infractions” seems beyond intrusive. My building inspects once a year for peeling paint and smoke detector batteries. They might visit once more for smoke detectors, I can’t recall. These things are safety issues and I’m grateful they’re looking out for them. If I ever thought they were nosing around looking for my dirty gym clothes I would feel violated.

    • Agreed. That’s treating tenants like ten-year-olds. I would move.
      Actually, I would love to know which building this is (or if it’s Borger-wide) so as not to rent from them.

    • I got written up once for stuff on my floor when my first apt in MtP was inspected. The reason given that it constituted a safety hazard in terms of exiting in any emergency. There was no penalty associated with it, so I took it was a grain of salt (was working and in grad school at the time) and the knowledge that I was/am young and spry enough to overcome some clothes on the floor or excess recycling in the event of an emergency. I assume those regulations are written to be fairly conservative, so as to protect those with mobility issues.
      I know the inspections there were for overcrowding and pets as well.

  • We lived in a Borger building for a while. Nothing about their inspections seemed all that unreasonable to me. They tend to have pretty mixed income older buildings and I think they need to keep on top of tenants to make sure the have a handle on pests. I never heard anything about unreasonable fines.
    Did you ask them about the earrings? If you mention things meant missing after they entered I imagine they would be pretty responsive.

  • Heck, I’d be on the street if I lived there. Dirty clothes, seriously? This makes me heart my landlord big time.

  • What does it mean to “write people up”? Is there some fee assessed? I think it’s pretty standard to note the conditions of an apartment, otherwise what is the purpose of the inspection other than to get decoration ideas lol.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but if a flea, bed bug, or any other infestation broke out, isn’t there some responsibility on the building to try to figure out the source?

    • I think if the building is 4 or more units, it’s on the landlord to handle bedbug extermination. Otherwise, it’s on the tenants.
      For things like mice and insects, the landlord is on the hook for extermination, unless the infestation is caused by negligence of the tenant.

    • We got bed bugs from a neighbor at a previous apartment. Since the management office knew that we didn’t bring in the problem, we weren’t on the hook for the bill. But I’ve heard that if they can prove that its your fault they can try to charge you for extermination.

  • anonymouse_dianne

    While I was renting at Park Place via Bozutto they inspected for something or other, then told me I had to get maid service. I’d like to get maid service where I am now but, well, there’s dishes in the sink and (clean) clothes on the floor!

  • That’s very weird…my building does this twice a year (it’s a Keener management property) but they pour a thing down our drains to make sure they’re not clogged, check the smoke alarms, replace the filters on the AC/heating units and just check that things work ok. They certainly don’t give a damn about clothes on the floor or dishes in the sink (unless there a bugs crawling all over the place) and they give about 10 days notice that they’ll be doing it…

  • Can anyone say what the law is regarding access to units? I know in an emergency there is clearly a right for the landlord to enter – flooding, fire, etc. etc.

    But my apartment building has twice entered my apartment without notifying me ahead of time to do some maintenance despite me saying very specifically that they needed to notify me beforehand and that I’d prefer to be home for any maintenance. Their request forms have these requests about access as an option, so it’s something they are willing to accommodate but there have been communication issues with the maintenance staff.

    I wanted to know what the laws were for this and haven’t found a single solid answer when googling around. It seems there is no set in stone law but that it is recommended to give 24 hour notice for any access to the apartment. Anyone know?

  • We rented for only one year in DC before buying our condo so I don’t have a wealth of experience to draw on, but I was NYC renter for years and this would not fly. For starters, the first thing you do is add your own deadbolt to the door because of course you trust no one. The other standard maneuver was to always use your security deposit as your last month’s rent. How else would you come up with first + security for your next apartment?

    • You’re legally not allowed to do the security deposit for last month’s rent in DC, as far as I’ve read.
      So yes, people actually need to come up with last month’s rent + first month’s rent + security deposit before they get their original deposit back. But that’s a whole other issue…

    • Add your own deadbolt?? I would say this defeats one of the greatest advantages of renting. If something breaks in my unit, especially something bad like a burst pipe, I want my landlord to be able to get in there ASAP without having to be there.

      • NYC Landlords aren’t going to “fix” anything. You certainly don’t want them in the apartment unsupervised.

  • I work for a bank and it is perfectly reasonable for an owner to do cleanliness inspections a couple times a year. I think having dishes in the sink and clothes on the floor is a bit extreme but I suppose Borger can define this as an unkept apartment. The people doing these inspections want to be there even less than you want them there. I really don’t see it as a big deal at all.

  • I’ve been renting in this city for over three decades now, and have never heard of a landlord ‘writing up’ tenants for leaving clothing on the floor.

    But bedbugs have become a huge issue for buildings, and colonies of bedbugs tend to take up residence in places like clothes hampers and piles of clothing left on the floor. If this is the basis for these writeups they should explain it better to the tenants.

  • I’m really curious which building this is. I lived in a Borger-managed building last year, and it was a strange experience. They were frequently coming into my apartment for some reason or other. For a while, it felt like every two weeks. (And this is BEFORE the bed bugs residing in the apartment above mine started traveling down through the walls.) They always gave a day or two notice, and nothing was ever amiss when I came back, but it just struck me as odd. Although I was never written up for not being tidy.

    I also still have a photo somewhere of the memo they sent out asking residents to “please not urinate in the stairwells.”

  • What happened to “Quiet Enjoyment”? Of course, adults can contract to do just about anything (legal that is). What does the lease say?

  • I Dont Get It

    I think it is ridiculous, especially about the dishes in the sink. Having said that I have a Rant I haven’t made yet that my carpet beetle infestation has returned. Clothes on the floor are a bad thing in my house right now.

  • The flyer seems pretty normal to me, we get these as well under the doors a few days in advance for changing A/C filters/Smoke Detector checks/etc. I trust the maintenance crew and let them in when I am out, however if there is an outsourced person who needs to enter I’ll write or call to the landlord and they will usually reschedule for when I am home or agree to supervise in the unit while the contractor is in. Nonetheless, I suggest keeping your valuables in a safe.

    While these write-ups seem very military school and way overboard, I think inspections in general help it a safer and pest-free place for everyone.

  • I can only imagine what a building with 300 random people living together would look like if the owners weren’t inspecting and doing maintenance throughout the year lol!

    Of course they need to give notice before entering unless there’s an emergency. They should also let you know what they are coming in for. Couple of general inspections, along with pest control, and preventative maintenance seems like one of the big reasons to live in an apartment.

    Also, D.C. has their own mandatory inspections now. They can an will fine the building for any perceived infractions. The government needs their money!

  • DC has an office for rental tenants rights: Contact them. Even our condo bldg has ruled that allow inspections but yours sounds unreasonable.

  • Back in the 1980’s I used the live in the Dorchester House on 16th Street. Once I came home from an evening college course to find that a maintenance company hired by the building to put in new smoke detectors had been in my unit. One of the workers had sat on my sofa and used one of the coffee cup saucers from the kitchen as an ashtray. There were ashes and cigarette butts all over the coffee table and I could see the outline of his butt on my sofa. Like they had sat there for a while smoking and chillin’ in my apartment with their feet up on my coffee table. Needless to say I went ballistic. I wrote a long letter to the management company (and the alarm installation company) stating that if the workers from the company they hired had time to sit in my apartment and smoke cigarettes they obviously weren’t doing much work. I demanded a new set of dishes (which I never got but it was a long-shot) and an apology. I mentioned how unsanitary it was for him to use my dishes as his personal ashtray. The resident manager spoke to me and gave me a half-hearted apology but I was just livid.

    • Ugh — how disrespectful of them! Reminds me of the auto mechanic I stopped going to after one day I picked up my car and found empty cups not just in the front cupholder but in the rear one too, meaning presumably that it wasn’t just one person taking my car for a joyride, but at least three people.

  • Standard DC leases give the management company the right to enter your apartment for regular maintenance (smoke detectors, furnace filter, etc), emergency maintenance (water leak), extermination, and a regular inspection. I believe the regular inspection is a requirement of the lender holding the mortgage on the building. The dirty dishes and dirty laundry issues are outside the scope of the regular inspection unless the building is having a problem with mice or cockroaches. Borger managed my building for 20 years, and the inspections didn’t deal with dishes and laundry, so I suspect your local manager was being overly zealous and unfairly blaming Borger.

  • I live in either this building or another Borger Mgmt building and even though I once failed one of these inspections due to dirty dishes, for some reason they don’t bother me much. A friend in the building feels the same way as this poster though so I do think she raises valid points. I know roaches have been a problem in the past so I think the main motivation is to prevent that from happening again.

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