Requirements for Landlord Entry
Every tenant has a right to privacy and quiet enjoyment of their rented real estate, but a tenant's privacy right must be balanced against the landlord's right to maintain their property. Sometimes, a landlord must enter a tenant's apartment to:
- Deal with emergencies
- Make repairs
- Show the apartment to another potential tenant
Tenants cannot unreasonably deny access to a landlord, but landlords must also follow all of the state and local rules regarding access to tenants' apartments. Roughly half of states have rules governing landlord entry into rental units.
The specific rules change from one state jurisdiction to the next, but here are the usual requirements for landlord entry.
Reasons for Entry
Landlords can't just enter a tenant's apartment for any reason. State landlord-tenant laws mandate reasonable times a landlord enters. A right of entry must usually be preceded by proper notice, which in most cases is at least 24 hours' notice. State laws usually only allow landlords and property management to come into dwelling units under specific circumstances such as:
- During an emergency
- To make repairs or assess the need for repairs
- To inspect the premises for damage
- To show the premises to insurance or mortgage companies
- To investigate potential tenancy violations under the lease agreement
- To show the apartment to prospective tenants or prospective buyers/purchasers
- If the tenant invites the landlord in or asks them to enter the apartment
- To comply with local, state, or federal law, such as to cooperate with law enforcement pursuant to a warrant by court order
Leases will sometimes contain additional justifications for entry. For example, the rental agreement might state that landlord access is permissible during reasonable hours to inspect plumbing. Be sure to check the terms of the lease for any other possible reasons for right of access into a tenant's unit.
Landlords must usually give tenants reasonable notice before they enter an apartment. The exact amount of notice can vary between locations, but it is typically 24 hours.
In addition, landlords can usually only enter apartments during normal business hours. Again, the exact definition of normal business hours can vary, but it will usually be between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
These rules don't apply in emergency situations, however. During emergencies, landlords can enter an apartment without notice to the tenants. Typical emergencies can include a fire or a severe water leak.
Landlords can also enter an apartment without notice if they reasonably believe that:
- The apartment has been abandoned
- If they have taken legal steps, including timely written notices required to ensure abandonment
Unlike the eviction process which affirmatively requires a tenant to vacate and move out, abandonment may happen without the landlord's involvement. A rental unit may appear to be uninhabited for a suspicious period of time. The premises may contain personal property even if the renters are nowhere to be found.
In these situations, a landlord must usually post advance notices on the premises before the time of entry. They must also provide several days' notice before emptying out abandoned personal property without a tenant's permission.
Denying a Landlord Entry
Tenants cannot unreasonably deny a landlord entry into their apartment. A tenant can request to have an entry moved to a different date, but the tenant cannot prevent the landlord from entering the apartment as long as all of the applicable requirements for entry are met.
For example, suppose that a state requires a landlord to provide three-day notice for entries related to routine inspection. The landlord's management company or contractors try, without success, to enter after giving proper notice. They are unable to enter because the tenant refuses to let them in each time. The tenant insists that everything is fine and no inspection is necessary.
If this behavior continues, the landlord may be able to obtain a court order compelling the tenant to allow entry into the premises.
Recourse for Landlord Trespass
If you feel that your landlord has entered your apartment in violation of any of the rules stated above, you may have recourse The first step is to discuss the problem with your landlord in a calm fashion. That alone could be enough to stop the violations.
If the entries continue, send your landlord a formal letter via certified mail requesting an end to the entries. If that doesn't work, you might have to bring a claim for trespass or harassment in court.
It is important to keep a log of all the instances where the landlord entered the apartment without following the rules for landlord entry. Collect physical evidence, such as photographs or video recordings, where possible. Also, keep track of how these inappropriate entries affected you, which will help you establish damages later.
Questions About the Requirements for Landlord Entry? Talk to a Lawyer
Whether you're a landlord or a tenant, it's good to know the requirements for landlord entry into a rental property. Disputes between landlords and tenants can escalate quickly. It's a good idea to get the most accurate information by consulting with an experienced landlord-tenant attorney near you today. They can provide you with valuable legal advice regarding landlord and tenant rights regarding entry of property.
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