Real Estate Tips |7 min read

11 Gov-Approved Rental Property Inspection Checklist Tips

A rental inspection can be one of the most daunting parts of being a real estate investor or owner. Property inspectors have high expectations, and your project could be derailed indefinitely if you fail to meet them.

11 Gov-Approved Rental Property Inspection Checklist TipsSo, we’ve compiled the main features you need to put on your rental property inspection checklist—not just generic features, but the official inspection guidelines directly from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) itself. We have broken down the core aspects of this report below.

Main Takeaways:

  • For your rental property inspection checklist, you should include the inspection of all plaster, drywall, wall paneling and tiles, exterior walls, floors, interior doors, windows, closets, trim and finishes, outlets and lighting, and HVAC sources.

Table of Contents:

Ground Rule: Don’t Cut Corners

Our Baltimore hard money lending team found one core takeaway from the HUD’s report: impeccable thoroughness is key, without cutting any corners.

As the HUD notes, for a rental property inspection checklist, you should examine all interior spaces’ overall condition. No exceptions. You should do this regardless of aesthetic appearance because looks can be deceiving. For example, you should be on the lookout for hidden cracks, peeling paint, water penetration, and interior leakage beneath coverings, like tiles or wallpaper. After all, your property inspector was trained to have an eagle eye, so you should, too.

Repairs vs. Replacements

You should be ready for whatever results the inspection may bring, whether it’s a quick fix or a bigger one. For instance, humidity and temperature changes can cause building components to move. And there’s some bad news: unless these movements are minor, they often can’t be fixed. You may have to find funds to pay for a replacement.

On the contrary, wood’s structural warping, building settlement, and deflection can cause wall and ceiling cracks. So, if these cracks have stopped moving, you can often repair them. Issues like this can be fixed more easily. All in all, it’s a good idea to be prepared for a wide range of fixability with property issues.

11 Features for Your Rental Property Inspection Checklist

Without further ado, here are the rental inspection rules that you should follow. Add this to your rental property inspection checklist for success.

Inspect the Plaster

Next, search for plasterwork sags and bulges by lightly tapping and pushing on it. Then, if certain areas feel hollow or bendy, it means the plaster has likely detached from its backing. Luckily, if you come across this issue, you can simply redo the plaster or drape over the area with a wallboard.

Check the Drywall

In your next rental property checklist addition, remember to check drywall-covered areas for nail popping, joint cracks, or other telltale signs of breakage. Many times, these include rust stains at the fasteners or corner beads.

Wall Paneling and Tiles

At this point, it’s time to see if the wall and ceiling paneling or tiles are securely attached. You can do this by pushing or tapping on them. Look behind it to see if any problems exist that aren’t immediately visible.

Also, explore your top floor for ceiling punctures that could create temperature changes through the air. If you do, you should seal them before the rental inspection.

Exterior Walls

If your building was made after 1960, see if your exterior walls are insulated with vapor barriers. If not, you might want to work on that.

As an aside, vapor barriers should be on the insulation’s interior in cold climates or the exterior side in warmer climates. This is what the HUD specifies.


In this next section of your rental property inspection checklist, you should think about the floor’s covering or finish.

If you have carpeting, see if its quality and condition are up to par. Furthermore, ensure the floor underneath is sound, and not unstable. By doing this, you can prevent accidents from happening.

If you have hardwood floors, you should see whether they require cleaning or sanding. In turn, if they do require sanding, see if past sanding has reduced the floor’s thickness. After all, if you over-sand the floor, it will expose floor nails and tongue-and-groove joints.

Interior Doors

For interior doors, inspect them and their door frame exterior, interior, and storm doors. With hardware, the finish, wear, and functioning should be your focus. If your doors are binding together or your frames are out-of-square, that could indicate building settlement. This is something to fix for a rental inspection.


Here, you should test all the windows for smoothness, fit, weather tightness, and code compliance. Assess your window sash and frames for damage and decline.

In particular, in your rental property inspection checklist, you should prioritize casement windows. If you open these windows, the wind could easily damage them, and that damage could prevent them from closing properly. Needless to say, you don’t want debris to fly into your property if a storm happens. While you’re at it, meticulously verify your casement operating hardware’s effectiveness, type, and condition.

It’s also important to confirm the window has a functioning thermal break frame, security hardware, and, if applicable, sash cords and weights. If you don’t have these basic components, it will harm the residents’ security.

Finally, open windows above your ground floor to find out the condition of their exterior surfaces, frames, sills, awnings, and shutters.


Look over all the closets to see if you can use them adequately. As a rule, for your rental inspection, their depth should be at least 24 inches.

Try out your shelving and hanging rods to confirm they have sufficient bracing. Moreover, you should ensure that closet light fixtures are safely positioned away from shelves. After all, if the lights are near the shelves, it can be dangerous and ineffective. This is one fatal mistake you should avoid.

Trim and Finishes

Scrutinize your baseboards, moldings, cornices, sills, and other trim to check that there aren’t any missing or broken parts. If there are any gaps, you might want to try to salvage them somehow. Otherwise, the right replacement trim may be hard to find.

Convenience Outlets and Lighting

As part of your rental property inspection checklist, be positive that the electrical services are sufficient and safe.

Closely investigate their condition so you know they won’t overheat easily. Moreover, make certain that outlets are mounted on outlet boxes and light fixtures are securely attached to hard surfaces. This way, nothing will fall out of place. Out of caution, use the switches and see if you discover any dimmed or flickering lights. These signs could indicate electrical malfunctioning.

Typically, all walls should contain a minimum of one outlet. Each room needs one switch-operated outlet or overhead light.

HVAC Source

Crucially, you must pinpoint each room’s heating, cooling, or ventilation source. After, make sure it’s functioning properly everywhere.

If you have a warm air supply register, yet no return, undercut the doors one inch for airflow.

Prepare for Your Rental Inspection with MHML

The HUD recommends that you focus on your home’s plasterwork, drywall, outlets, and other staples of a safe property. If you add these factors to your rental property inspection checklist, you’re on the right track to a smooth, uneventful rental inspection.

As you read on, you may have had that “aha!” moment where you realized there were gaps in your property you must address. However, unless you’re a millionaire swimming in cash, that’s a tall order to ask.

Luckily, there is a way that you can get the funding you need before the rental inspection date approaches. We can give you hard money loans. These are ultra-expedited loans designed to be customizable for each real estate investor’s unique projects and extenuating circumstances. If you’re in a hurry, these are a perfect fit. Call us today to fill in the cracks in your walls, windows, and overall real estate project.

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