Rental Housing Inspection Checklist

The most common violations that our inspectors find when performing rental housing inspections are listed below. Although it isn't a comprehensive list of potential violations, it's a good place to start when preparing for an inspection. If you have an upcoming renewal inspection, you should visit the property well in advance to see if any issues need to be addressed.

Exterior Areas

  • Address numbers visible from public street.
  • Door viewer or sidelight window present. Light at exterior doors.
  • Siding free from peeling paint, broken boards, missing pieces.
  • Windows have no broken/missing glass. Operable windows have screens present or available (off season).
  • Soffits, gutters and roof are in good repair.
  • Steps, decks, porch walking surfaces are in good repair.
  • Required handrails and guardrails are in good condition.
  • Foundation has no holes; brick/block is not loose.
  • Yard is maintained and driveways are free of potholes. Vehicles parking on an approved driveway surface.

Fire Safety

  • Smoke detectors test properly and are located in every sleeping room, outside each sleeping room area, and on each floor.
  • Charged fire extinguisher (type 1A1OBC) is mounted on a path of egress between kitchen and an exit to the exterior.


  • No leaks at faucets or drains, toilet is firmly attached, and is not running.
  • S-traps under sinks are prohibited (unless original metal pipes are still present). Replace with p-trap.

Examples of Plumbing Traps


  • Habitable rooms: two duplex outlets and an overhead or wall light; if no light, three duplex outlets.
  • All cover plates and light fixtures are present and in good repair.
  • Extension cords are not permitted as a permanent electrical source (for example: for refrigerator, fish tank, etc.). Overuse of extension cords indicates need for extra outlets. 


  • Water meter is bonded.
  • Dryer vent is attached properly and exhausts to outside.
  • Basements may not be used for living space unless they meet all habitable space requirements. All basement bedrooms or sleeping areas require an egress window.
  • Clearance for access and fire safety around furnace, water heater and electrical panel is 36 inches minimum. 

Other Interior Spaces

  • Operable windows open easily and stay open. Windows must have a sash lock.
  • Sliding patio doors have a secondary lock. ⇒ All sleeping areas have proper egress window.
  • Walls/ceilings are in good repair. ⇒ Floor coverings are in good repair and sanitary.
  • Interior doors are in good condition, latch and if provided with a lock do not require a key to open from within.
  • Interior handrails and guardrails are in good condition, new handrails return to wall.
  • No pest infestations.
  • Unit is sanitary and no exits are blocked.
  • All habitable rooms must be able to maintain 68°F


  • Common areas are maintained, lighting is adequate.
  • Auto-closures on unit doors and vestibule doors are operational.
  • Fire exiting lighting is working, and all fire suppression systems have been inspected per required schedule. 

Addressing Specific Issues

Code Requirements for Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

There is no arguing that smoke and carbon monoxide detectors have saved countless lives. Especially given they are easy to install and are relatively inexpensive. Requirements are as follows:

Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors are required in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area (in the immediate vicinity of the bedrooms), and at least one on each story of the dwelling, including basements and habitable attics. (Exception: Smoke alarms in existing buildings constructed before 11/6/1974 must have one in each sleeping room or immediate vicinity of each sleeping room and one on each floor level, including the basement.) (Note: All rental units have been cited to comply with the more stringent requirements due to ease of installation and low cost).

  • Smoke detectors shall not be installed within 20 feet (horizontally) from a cooking appliance, unless it would prevent installation of the smoke alarm in a required location.
  • New construction, and residential dwelling units undergoing alterations, additions or change in occupancy that requires a building permit, OR where sleeping rooms are being added within the dwelling (without a permit) must comply with the requirements for interconnected smoke detectors.
  • Interconnected smoke detectors must either be hardwired, battery/wireless or an approved combination of hardwire and ba4ery interconnected. The overriding requirement is that when one station sounds a warning, it must set off all detectors within the dwelling unit.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

  • All newly constructed residential units, which have a fuel-fired appliance or an attached garage, must have carbon monoxide detector, wired into the electrical system of the dwelling.
  • Existing dwelling units where alterations, repairs or additions requiring a permit occur (exterior work only is exempt, as is permits for plumbing or mechanical items) OR where one or more sleeping rooms are created, the dwelling unit shall be equipped with carbon monoxide alarms. These may be ba4ery operated.
  • Carbon monoxide detectors must be located outside all sleeping rooms, which may require more than one per dwelling unit.

Combination smoke alarm/carbon monoxide detectors are permi4ed as along as all the requirements are met. All installed products must be UL approved for the use intended and installed per manufacturer's instructions

Open Ground Violations

Three prong outlets, if not grounded properly, will be cited with an Open Ground Violation. This presents a hazard to persons and electronic equipment which may be remedied (or identified to users) by one of the following:

  1. Add GFCI circuit breaker to the panel and label all receptacles that it serves "no equipment ground" and “GFCI Protected”. (Test of the circuit breaker should trip breaker, test at the outlet may or may not trip breaker depending on quality of the tester. No permit is required to swap breaker).
  2. Change receptacle to GFCI and label "no equipment ground" (test should trip receptacle, no permit to swap receptacle).
  3. Ensure outlet is protected "down the line" from a GFCI receptacle and label "no equipment ground" and “GFCI Protected”.
  4. Switch receptacle back to a two-prong receptacle (no permit required); 5) Add ground wire (requires electrical permit).


A handrail is a graspable support located on one or both sides of a stairway.

Handrails are required on every exterior and interior flight of stairs having more than four risers. Handrails must be installed so that the distance from the nose of the stairs to the handrail is consistent for the run of the stairs and is installed between 34 and 38 inches high. Handrails must return to the wall or newel post.

Example of Handrail Return

Existing handrails installed at a reasonable height may remain until replacement is necessary. The space between the handrail and the wall may not be smaller than 1.5 inches.

The handrail must be easily grasped. Circular handrails must have a diameter between 1.25 and 2 inches. If the handrail is not circular, a variety of types are available, but must be graspable or have finger recess areas on both sides. Final determination will be by the Building Official.