One of the toughest landlord/tenant issues that some owners have to learn is the landlord’s right of entry versus the tenants right to privacy because many landlords think that they have the right to show up at their rental property without notice while others know that they have to follow the law but what exactly does the law have to say about it?
Although laws vary from state to state, landlords (or an agent on their behalf, like a property manager), tend to be able to enter a tenant’s rental unit for the following reasons:
- Routine inspections. Most landlords will want to make a yearly, semi-yearly or quarterly inspection of the property to ensure the tenants are maintaining the property in accordance with the lease. It also helps shed light on any repairs or safety issues that need to be addressed. Advanced notice must be given to the tenant before routine inspections occur.
- When repairs or service is needed. Landlords will need access to the property in order for repairs or maintenance to be conducted. Once again, landlords must give tenants advanced notice before entering the unit for these reasons.
- In an emergency. Sometimes there are emergencies that require immediate attention (e.g. heavy rain causes a basement to flood, or extreme cold has caused frozen or burst pipes). These issues need to be addressed immediately and cannot wait for a landlord to get permission from the tenants or work around their schedules. As such, landlords are not required to give tenants advanced notice in the case of an emergency (although, notifying tenants of your plans to enter the premises ASAP is a recommended courtesy and gesture of goodwill).
- To show the unit. In order for landlords to sell or rent the property to someone else, they need the ability to show the unit to prospective buyers. In this case, landlords are required to give tenants advanced notice before showing the unit and cannot show the property excessively. Try to remember what it’s like to be in the tenants’ shoes—would you want strangers traipsing around your home, poking and prodding, on a regular basis? When possible, it’s advisable for landlords or property managers to set up an open house during set hours to show groups of prospective buyers/renters the property at once.
- During an extended absence. If a tenant is planning to be away for an extended period of time, or if the landlord suspects a tenant has been gone for an extended period (usually 7 days or more), a landlord typically has the right to enter the property to make sure everything is okay inside.
Now that we know when landlords have a legal right to enter, let’s take a look at “advanced notice” (which can also be referred to as “proper notice”). In any event, what exactly does this mean?
Once again, it can vary state to state. At a minimum, advanced notice usually requires landlords to give tenants at least 24 hours’ notice before entering the property. Some states require landlords give tenants two days’ notice. But almost all states allow landlords to enter without any notice in the case of emergency, as described above.
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