Landlord says their bank is inspecting our building for "tax purposes."
August 9, 2016 12:54 PM   Subscribe

Just got a memo from my landlord that there is a mandatory inspection of my building tomorrow by his "lender bank" for "tax purposes only." They will be taking pictures inside all our units. Why does a bank need to inspect for tax purposes? Why do they need pictures of the inside of my home? It feels very intrusive. I suspect they're either refinancing or selling the building. The note says failure to comply, within the 2.5 hour timeframe, will be a breech of my lease and grounds for eviction. Is that legal? (I'm in Los Angeles, if that's germane.)
posted by ljshapiro to Law & Government (19 answers total)
What does your lease say?
posted by grouse at 12:57 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: It says they have access with 24-hour notice, which the notice just barely fulfills. Nothing about taking pictures.
posted by ljshapiro at 12:58 PM on August 9, 2016

Perhaps he's appealing his property tax valuation and is getting a current appraisal on the building's value?
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

FWIW, we bought a house with the intent of putting a lot of work into it. We took out a load and had to get private mortgage insurance. We finished the work, which changed the valuation of the property. The bank sent out an assessor because the house value was different, and now we could make the PMI go away.

Maybe something similar is going on.
posted by plinth at 1:04 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This isn't something I would contest.
posted by grouse at 1:08 PM on August 9, 2016 [16 favorites]

Taking pictures doesn't seem like an unreasonable extension of the right to inspect your apartment. If there were damage, wouldn't your landlord be within their rights to document it?
posted by Etrigan at 1:12 PM on August 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

It sounds like they're meeting the legal requirements for your lease. An appraisal sounds very likely: if they've done any work recently they might need to reappraise for tax purposes (especially if they're contesting a property valuation raise, which can happen in California with significant work done), or they would need it if they're refinancing (which, if they haven't done so recently and bought the house 10 years ago or something, is a very sane thing for them to be doing and won't affect you in the long term).

And yes, it's possible they're planning on selling the building, in which case you cross that bridge when you come to it. But even though this sounds shitty, it also sounds legal.
posted by brainmouse at 1:13 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

This seems fishy to me, but I don't think it's worth putting up a fight over.

(I am a little biased, having recently been through something similar with my landlord. They told us we were having a termite inspection one day, and while there was a termite guy, they also had a real estate agent in tow, which I only knew because I planned to be home at the time. A week later, the house was on the market.)
posted by ktkt at 1:13 PM on August 9, 2016 [2 favorites]

When my landlords did this, I thought they were selling. It turns out it really was for tax and insurance purposes. *shrug*

Just throwing this out there, since the City is doing a big push on renters' rights lately: 3 out of 4 rental units in LA are rent-stabilized and have protections in the event of a sale. More info from, which redirects to the City of LA's website
posted by samthemander at 1:20 PM on August 9, 2016 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Yeah it could be for a refinance or a sale or whatnot. It doesn't really matter- as I understand it what matters is what your lease says and it sounds like they are meeting those requirements to come into your home. I do work involved in property transactions and whenever I inspect tenants houses I'm usually supposed to tell them some bullshit reason for the inspection so they don't get scared or figure out what's happening before it happens. I usually take photos but it's never of their personal shit- it's always of the house structure or furnace, that kind of stuff.

This is the crappy thing about renting - it's never really your space because you don't own it. For now, if I were you I'd let them come in since it sounds like they are meeting the lease requirements and if anything else comes up like a sale or whatever, cross that bridge then.
posted by FireFountain at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2016 [6 favorites]

This happened to me in my apartment, and it was no big deal. The city was considering raising the value of the building to increase property taxes, but they ended up staying the same. No changes were made to my lease or rent when I renewed my lease.
posted by shortyJBot at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2016

I have experienced this, when I lived in a large apartment complex (they were selling). It is not unusual and they are not looking at anything you're doing in your apartment really, more at general condition of the buildings. They will mostly take pictures of structural or condition problems, anything of yours that makes it into the photo is incidental.
posted by AliceBlue at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2016

Could be taxes, refinancing, selling -- hard to know, but ultimately I don't think you'd have much grounds to contest it. Ultimately it sucks if they do sell but obviously it isn't right that one renter would be able to prevent a sale by the owner. And I don't think it makes sense to panic about that just yet, without more information -- it really could be something completely innocuous.
posted by rainbowbrite at 1:38 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Not at all an unusual request. If you refinance your own home, the bank will often ask for pictures for help in determining value. I imagine a tax authority might need it for this reason for their internal records. If the landlord has complied with the notice requirement, you'd be wise to comply.
posted by nubianinthedesert at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2016

Whenever we get a tax appraisal notice, the letter always asks to come inside. We decline. But we own our home. It is a legitimate thing, though.
posted by Ruki at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

Our LA landlord does this every year. Its weird, but its never been an issue aside from getting the pupper riled up.
posted by GilloD at 2:27 PM on August 9, 2016

Landlord here. Yes, mortgage banks and insurance companies occasionally want to do an inspection. None of mine have ever required a look inside the house, but maybe these ones do, or maybe your landlord wants to allow that (which is within his rights). There has been no detectable pattern to when they want to do this.

It's totally a thing and doesn't necessarily mean your landlord is up to anything.
posted by cmoj at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2016 [1 favorite]

This happened to me once. I still don't know why the property was being inspected, but the people taking the pics were very careful not to include personal things in the photos eg: things on desks, tables, your photos etc. The pics mainly focused on the structure, not the decor. So let them do what they have to, but make sure you're there when they do.
posted by james33 at 4:39 AM on August 10, 2016

We just went through this last week. The inspectors were in our unit with the building manager for about 5 minutes, took pictures of appliances, electrical stuff, plumbing. All of the previous head-shaking half-assed repairs and outright fire-trap disasters in the common areas, etc., remain untouched. (Our landlord is...not good at his job.)

As far as I'm aware, no motions have been made to sell. My guess is it really was for mortgage/insurance purposes.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2016

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