View Full Version : Apartment Inspection for tenant

Rodrigo Diaz
11-17-2008, 02:25 PM
I received a call today from a lady who is having problems with her Lanlord making repairs. She rents an apartment in the city of Chicago and he has informed her that the rent is going up but he has yet to make any of the repairs she has requested. She asked me if I could come in and take pics of the items and compile a report of what I see. I am willing to do this But I have never done an inspection like this before. I am sure its no different than any other inspection I have done, has anyone done something similiar? If so are there things I should be careful about (legally or otherwise) and what would you charge for this type of inspection? Any comments or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks in advance ROD.

Raymond Wand
11-17-2008, 02:33 PM
It might behoove you to ascertain if there is a Landlord and Tenant type by-law for your municipality and if so to obtain a copy, sometimes you may find them online. However un-repaired items which could affect health and safety of the occupants may in itself be all you need as evidence as long as its documented by a third party, by way of photos and report of findings as you imply.


Rick Hurst
11-17-2008, 03:21 PM
I think she should be filing a complaint with the city housing dept. and if there are health issues, call the health dept.

Personally I stay out of renter / Landlord type inspections. Its always nothing but a pissing match between the two. You'll just waste time on the phone arguing with the landlord.

Also, I don't think this board should be used as a place to discuss pricing. You should know what you need an hour to be operating your business or your in trouble.


Ted Menelly
11-17-2008, 04:03 PM
I got a call some time ago from an investor that had multiple rental properties. He wanted me to go in and document conditions in several homes.

I just could not see getting into that mix. It would have turned into a tremendous amount of calls and probably court. He wanted me to charge no more than a hundred per home to picture and document conditions in the homes. That would have just lead to a serious follow up that I would have been right in the middle of and once courts were involved I would have no choice but to comply with the courts demands. This man would have received his hold back from Tennant's and I would have been baring the brunt of it all with my documentation.

Definitely not worth it in the slightest. Follow Ricks advise with the city and health department.

Maybe a hundred per unit and a hundred or more an hour after that but then the time would become difficult to substantiate to the investor to get my money.

Raymond Wand
11-17-2008, 04:10 PM
I think you should charge a minimum fee in the $300 range, and then make it perfectly clear in your contract that additional hours will be billed in the $75-100/hr range, and court time if required at so much. On the other hand you could also explain to this tenant that they could also document their own issues. Likely a tenant will not be able to afford the rates.

It would seem to me that in this flat market any type of work would be welcome.


Jerry McCarthy
11-17-2008, 04:55 PM
This is the entry threshold of performing litigation support. If you want to get into this game you will need a contract and a good understanding of what's needed and what it’s all about. Other than that Rick offered you excellent advice.

Jerry Peck
11-17-2008, 05:37 PM
Some comments on Ted's post.

It would have turned into a tremendous amount of calls and probably court.


And, as WC Jerry pointed out, that would be an entry threshold into litigation support.

He wanted me to charge no more than a hundred per home to picture and document conditions in the homes.

You don't allow your clients to dictate prices on your home inspections, don't allow your clients to dictate prices on litigation support either.

You simply state: 'My fee is $250 per hour, as I see *you* are not interested, thank you for contacting me and good day.'

Maybe a hundred per unit and a hundred or more an hour after that but then the time would become difficult to substantiate to the investor to get my money.

Nah, that's what retainers are for.

You have your client sign your contract, you collect your retainer (sufficient to cover what you expect to bill out over 45 days).

You 'bill to the retainer' your time, at the end of 30 days you invoice your client and they have 10 days to pay. Which allows them to get 10 more days into the retainer - remember, you have an estimated 45 days ALREADY COLLECTED as the retainer.

If your client sends the check, you have been paid for the month and the retainer is back up to its full amount - no problem.

If your client does not send a check, you contact them and ask for the check, telling them that the retainer will be kept to cover the invoice amount and any collection fees required to collect the invoice, i.e., you were paid upfront for X number of hours, you worked X number of hours, you got paid for the same X number of hours. If there is any money left over from the retainer after collection fees, you will gladly send the remaining to the client, although, you do not expect any retainer to be left over, and, in fact, you suspect that they will owe you slightly more than has been paid by the retainer ... Gosh, now how on earth did it work out that way? Golly, you, Mr. Client, owe me another $5.25 above and beyond the retainer. :rolleyes:


Markus Keller
11-17-2008, 05:42 PM
Rod, as Jerry, Rick and Ray mentioned you are standing on the edge of a whole different field. If you want to do the inspection, then do the inspection. You may want to consider the following factors in your decision.
- This sounds like a dispute resolution type situation. It is not going to be a simple 'do the insp, collect fee and say goodbye' scenario. As this evolves there will most likely be lots of phone calls. Is your client willing to pay for that time? Have you discussed this with the potential client?
- Consider finding out some info from the client prior to make a final decision. Such as: why is landlord raising the rent, is there a lease, who long have you been there, how long do you want to stay, do you really like the apt. overall?? All these questions will help you assess whether the person is a serious client or not.
- assess or ask what the monthly rent is; if the rent is $400 do you think they will really pay you 300-800 for your services?
- The City has a 'tenants rights ordinance'. Copies of the ordinance can be picked up downtown or any of the Satellite offices around the City. The ordinance spells out specific actions and remedies to be taken by a tenant in order to comply with the law. Does your client have one, do you? You both should have one for obvious reasons. No, I don't know if it can be downloaded since I have always picked up a new one when needed.
- If all goes well, the landlord will comply and you will have collected a fee and helped the client. If not, things could get ugly. Are you comfortable talking with lawyers; are you familiar with the Code; your write up will need to reference City Code to stand up to scrutiny on the 11th floor.
- Do you have a Code book?
- The easiest solution: Your client can call 311 and file a complaint. Depending on the defects in the apt. the City will send an inspector out within 2 weeks to 4 years or never. Sounds crazy, I know but that's another story. Landlord to tenant retaliation of course isn't allowed, nonetheless, if the landlord ends up in AH or the 11th floor because the tenant called 311, well I doubt that lease will get renewed next year.
Should I babble on some more ... to recap.
Start out with a copy of the tenants rights ordinance, if you have a Code book great, if not consider buying or passing on the deal (you may or may not need it); Let the client know about calling the City.
- Depending on the location and situation your client can also call MTO (metropolitan tenants organization) or one of the neighborhood tenant help groups for counseling and assistance if the landlord is playing games with the lease and or rent amount. There are specific guidelines for leases, renewals and non-renewals in the TRO.
Enough for now. Ask more if you like.

Ted Menelly
11-17-2008, 05:52 PM
Actually the hundred per unit was hypothetical.

I originally told him 250 just for some pictures and a one page report just to document visible damages. Of course that did not fly.

No he was not dictating to me. It pretty much died with the 250. I also mentioned to him that because these were already problem Tennant's that I would want others there with me and that would be an additional expense. The more he baulked the more I added and then told him that with further thought he needed to contact someone else.

Jerry Peck
11-17-2008, 06:34 PM
The more he baulked the more I added ...

That's how you deal with those people.

Usually ends up such that you never have to ...

... and then told him that with further thought he needed to contact someone else.

He's already there long before it gets to that point. :cool:

Jerry McCarthy
11-17-2008, 07:25 PM
The one thing one learns early on is that in performing litigation support work one always stays in front from the get-go, and I mean always! Absolutely nothing is free such as; when was the last time you got free legal advice from an attorney?

Jerry Peck
11-17-2008, 07:30 PM
Or walk into your doctor's office and NOT see a sign which says: Copay must be paid first.

You pay it before you even sit down to wait on the doctor.

Rodrigo Diaz
11-18-2008, 12:56 AM
Thanks to everyone for the replies, its all been great info and helped me out, If I have any more questions I'll hit the MB again. Thanks again to everyone who replied.


Ron Bibler
11-18-2008, 02:07 AM
I will not work for a Tenant. They do not own the building. I want the owner to give consent for the inspection.