If you’re going to be renting out a property here in the St. Louis or St. Charles area, more than likely you’re going to need to get an occupancy inspection.  A rental occupancy inspection is when the municipality your rental property is located in will come through and inspect your property to make sure it meets certain occupancy code and is safe for a tenant to move in. 

Each municipality is going to check different things.  Often, you can find a list of their code requirements on their website.  I always recommend checking there first, before you have your inspection, so you have a better chance to pass the first time. 

As far as timing, I always recommend getting your first occupancy inspection before you start advertising the home for rent, so that you can make sure you have enough time for the property to pass before a tenant would be ready to move in.  Oftentimes, you’ll get your first inspection, and then have a certain amount of time to correct the violations, and then you can reschedule the final inspection.  Many times, if it doesn’t pass the second time, your city will require you to pay for a third inspection.  Typically, the inspections are going to cost anywhere between $50-200, depending on where you are.  Most usually keep it between $50-100. 

Two other things to keep in mind with timing.  Once you pass the inspection, you may only have a certain amount of time to find a tenant, or the passed inspection will expire and you’ll need to have another one.  If your property is occupied by you or the tenant moving out, the city may require it to be vacant before they will inspect.  So, sometimes you have to be sure to allow enough vacancy period to be able to get your inspections and have them pass.

Some municipalities will also require your tenant to obtain an occupancy permit before they can take occupancy. So it’s important to check with your city to see what requirements there are for tenants. 

You also may need to get a fire inspection, depending on where your property is.  Some properties in Lake St. Louis require a fire inspection, as do certain Wildwood and Chesterfield properties. 

Almost every municipality will require your property to pass their inspection before a tenant can occupy the home.  If you don’t follow the specific rules, you could face fines or legal repercussions.  So it is extremely important to check with your city so that you’re aware of their occupancy inspection requirements.