We all want to live in our homes peacefully and without intrusion. Our home is our oasis from the stress of the world. When you are renting your home, however, intrusions are sometimes unavoidable. They come in the form of your landlord – the owner of your home. There are times when landlords need to enter your home for legitimate reasons. And there are times that landlords enter that are not legitimate.
What can you do if the landlord enters your home without permission?
There are a few remedies available to you when this happens – asking verbally and in writing for them to stop, calling the police for trespassing, or even suing for harassment. Before we go into each of these remedies, let’s discuss the valid reasons a landlord has for entering your home.
Quickly, before we get started it needs to be noted that each state will have its own laws on this topic. This will be a general overview. Studying the laws in your particular state for how the law applies to you directly is always a good idea.
During our time as landlords we always provided 24 hour notice before entering our tenants apartments. Whenever possible I would try to give as much notice as I could, which was usually several days or even a week+ notice about my intent to enter the unit.
Of course we always had our reasons for needing access to the units, below we list out the most common.
Table of Contents
- 7 Legitimate Reasons for a Landlord to Enter Your Apartment
- Can a Tenant Refuse Access to the Home?
- What Can You Do if the Landlord is Entering Without Permission?
- Protect Your Quiet Enjoyment
7 Legitimate Reasons for a Landlord to Enter Your Apartment
It’s important to understand that, as the owner of the house or apartment you live in, the landlord does have the right to enter for legitimate reasons that don’t involve them entering without permission. It is also important to know that for nearly all of these reasons the landlord must give you reasonable notice before entering.
What reasonable notice means legally varies from state to state. Often it means you need to have a minimum of 24 hours’ notice and it needs to be during business hours (8 am to 5 pm-ish Monday through Saturday).
Here are seven typical reasons a landlord may enter the home:
1. To Do Routine Inspections
The most common reason a landlord enters a home is to do regular, routine inspections of it. They will check for leaks, evidence of pest infestations, broken appliances, etc. They want to make sure everything is working as it should.
Many landlords do these inspections once per year and some do them up to quarterly. They need to give reasonable notice for these inspections and do them during reasonable hours too.
Landlords should not be looking at your personal belongings, but your landlord may need to look in your closet if there are utility access points inside.
2. To Make Repairs
After an inspection or at your request a landlord can come in and make necessary repairs to things that are not working or broken. They can also bring contractors or tradesmen in to complete the work.
This also needs to be done with reasonable notice and at reasonable hours. They should also not be letting the workers in unaccompanied. Either the tenant or landlord should be present if possible when the work is being done.
3. When Invited by the Tenant
Sometimes there is a problem you need a landlord to address. Don’t hesitate to ask the landlord to come and inspect something that is not working as it should. And ask them to fix it. It’s their responsibility as the owner of the property to keep things functioning.
You live there and will have knowledge of issues as they happen. Most landlords will be very appreciative of knowing about and being able to fix issues at their outset before they get worse.
When you invite them in, you will work out with the landlord when it works for both of you, giving you the notice required for entry.
4. To Show Prospective Tenants
When you’ve given notice to the landlord that you will be moving out by a specific date, the landlord may be able to begin showing your home to prospective tenants.
Your lease will often stipulate if this is allowed or not. If it doesn’t, the state law may as well. The landlord will still need to give reasonable notice and enter at reasonable times to show the apartment.
5. To Deal with An Emergency
An emergency is one reason where reasonable notice is not required and your permission is not needed for your landlord to enter. A problem that is causing damage and will continue to cause damage until it’s fixed is considered an emergency.
For example, if the tenant who lives below you reports water leaking into the apartment from the ceiling, the landlord can enter your apartment immediately to stop the flood. Most landlords will attempt to contact you before they get there if possible. If it’s not possible, they can and will enter to remedy the problem.
6. During a Tenant’s Extended Absence
Some states will allow a landlord to enter and perform inspections and basic maintenance if a tenant is gone for an extended amount of time. The definition of an extended amount of time varies by state but is usually seven or more days.
Also, the legality of this is also determined by state laws. Some states allow it and some specifically do not. It’s important to know the law in your own state if this scenario is going to come up.
7. When A Landlord Suspects Abandonment
If a landlord suspects that the tenant has moved out/abandoned the property, they can enter to confirm if that has happened. A landlord must have evidence to lead them to believe this has happened.
Evidence can be that there has been a change of address filed with the post office, the utilities were turned off, other residents or witnesses report seeing the tenant moving belongings out of the unit, or a complete lack of communication after a 3-day pay or quit notice.
Can a Tenant Refuse Access to the Home?
Now that we’ve discussed why and when a landlord can enter your home, are you allowed to refuse access? If the landlord has followed the lease and the law and has made a reasonable request, you cannot.
If the timing is incredibly inconvenient to you, you can absolutely discuss it with the landlord and work out a time that works for you both, but you cannot outright refuse to allow the entry.
When is Entry Considered Intrusive?
There are certain landlord behaviors that tenants (and the law) consider intrusive, if these begin happening, you may have a problem on your hands that will need to be dealt with. Some of these activities can include but are not limited to are:
- Too-frequent inspections
- Impromptu visits without notice and not in writing
- Written notices that don’t specify time or date
- Entering without tenant permission
- Allowing others, such as service technicians, enter unaccompanied
- Conducting inspections and other work outside of reasonable hours
- Using entry to harass a tenant
What Can You Do if the Landlord is Entering Without Permission?
If your landlord is entering without permission or being otherwise intrusive there are remedies for you. Let’s look at some of the options that may be available to you.
- Keep good records. It’s very important to keep records of intrusions. Keep a file of every instance it happens. Include the date, time, what happened and how or if any notice was given to you.
- Ask the landlord to stop. It seems simple, but it’s important. Let the landlord know that their actions are unacceptable.
- Deliver a certified letter. Write a letter and send it by certified mail to the landlord asking them to stop entering without permission. A certified letter will have a record of being delivered so you can prove the landlord received it.
- Call the police to report trespassing. You can do this as it’s happening if needed. The police may be able to help in the moment, but may not be able to do much for an ongoing problem.
- Sue the landlord. There is a term called quiet enjoyment. According to USLegal, quiet enjoyment is a concept of common law that “refers to the right of an occupant of real property, particularly of a residence, to enjoy and use premises in peace and without interference.” If your quiet enjoyment is being infringed upon, you can sue the landlord for that infringement.
Protect Your Quiet Enjoyment
Whether you own or lease your home, you have the right to quiet enjoyment of it. If you are renting, it’s important to understand why and when a landlord can or cannot enter your home.
If you believe they are entering without permission or in excess, keep meticulous records of it and exercise the remedies available to you to protect your quiet enjoyment of your home.