This post is by Bernie Carr, apartmentprepper.com
There it was, a note taped to our door: “You are scheduled for the annual mandatory apartment inspection per the terms of your lease. You need not be home for the inspection.” The note went on to specify the week the inspection was being conducted, and the block of hours.
At the time, I had just finished packing the 5-gallon buckets of staples, and they were all over the dining room. I called the Leasing Office and asked for more details about the inspection. The Manager indicated it is an annual inspection to check on appliances, fixtures, and walls, to make sure they are still the same as when we moved in. I think they just wanted to make sure no one has repainted the walls, torn up the carpet or sold off the fridge. I did not have a problem with management inspecting the unit but I also don’t like having strangers traipsing around my space. I just did not want to advertise our stockpiling efforts.
Reasons for an inspection
There are all sorts of reasons why a landlord may visit your unit. Some are valid and do benefit you, but sometimes they are just checking up on you. Here are some of the reasons:
- Check fire alarms and sprinklers: This is the most common purpose I have seen. The city requires an annual inspection of fire safety equipment, and send a representative to inspect.
- Repairs: After the last hurricane, maintenance came in to check for ceiling damage. They’ve also asked to come in to change the air filter in the A/C, but we always tell them we bought our own.
- The building is for sale: I’ve been in a couple of properties that were in the middle of a sale, and the buyer’s bank sent inspectors to view the units. This signals an upcoming change in management and should alert you that things will change (for better or worse)
- Looking for illegal activity: This had to have been the strangest one that I’ve experienced. Building management inspected all the bathtubs in the apartments, to make sure no one was using them for purposes other than taking a shower.
What to do
While there is nothing wrong with having emergency supplies, you also don’t want anyone knowing about your business. After I confirmed the scheduled date and time, I started moving the buckets to inconspicuous places such as under the dining table covered up by a long tablecloth. We also moved some items down to a corner area of the garage and covered them with a tarp. We already knew what they were inspecting, so the garage was not an area they would scrutinize. Also, the weather has been fairly cool, so a couple days in the garage would not degrade the contents of the buckets.
The day of the inspection came, and the inspector with a clipboard quickly came and went. We moved the buckets back inside the unit. We were glad it was over, but then the following week, we got another note that our unit was chosen for yet another inspection. I spoke to the manager again and politely mentioned we have just gone through this, why do we have to do it again? I also told them nicely that this is really not a convenient time, and asked if they can possibly choose another unit. To my surprise, the manager actually agreed. She found another unit to inspect instead of ours.
If you have supplies in your house, be careful about who you let in who can see what you have. Because apartment dwellers have the possibility of being inspected, we need to be aware of our rights and what we have control over.
Read your lease
When you are informed of an inspection, reread the terms of your lease, your rights as well as what the manager can do and cannot do.
Even if you are objecting or refusing to do something, be very nice about it and you just may get what you want.
Hide your supplies in inconspicuous places
One reader told me she keeps long dresses she bought from a thrift store to camouflage supplies in her closet. To anyone who checks, she appears to have gowns, but no one would ever think of looking behind or underneath the dresses. Spread out your stash, so it does not look noticeable.
Cover your buckets or boxes. You can also mark boxes with inconspicuous labels such as “Decorations” or “Toys.”
Watch them inspect you
I think some inspectors are nosy, but having you around may quelch this tendency. If possible, try to be at home during the inspection, so you know what is going on.
Apartment inspections are an unavoidable part of renting. But you can take steps to preserve your privacy and avoid having strangers being privy to your emergency supplies.
© Apartment Prepper 2018
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