Can a Landlord Enter the Property Whenever They Want?

Written on June 27, 2016 by , updated on December 9, 2016

Can a Landlord Enter a Property?Territory wars – that’s really what it’s all about.

We witness territorial behavior among animals and humans all the time. But why? There are a variety of theories, but two reasons are common to most:

  1. Competition
  2. Dominance

So you can imagine that when it comes to property rights, particularly about whether a landlord can enter the property and when, landlords and residents both are marking their territory … well, not literally (we hope!).

The Status Quo

The unfortunate truth is that too many landlords and property managers think they can just show up whenever they want. Lucky for you, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Landlord Math

Related: Tip #17: NO!, You Can’t Just “Pop-In”

The Landlord Owns the Property

As a renter, ideally, you think of your rental property as your home. You’ve set up residence, have decorated, and are living your life there. In your mind, this is your space.

But you know deep down that the property you rent really isn’t “your” house. The rent you pay gives you many rights, but someone else owns the place, and with ownership comes rights, too.

So where do a landlord’s rights to enter their own property and a tenant’s right to privacy begin and end?

The lines between landlord and tenant rights are often blurred.

Required Notice Varies by State

One way to find the answer is to look up your state’s law. Some states have specific laws on how much notice a landlord must give a tenant before coming over — which is usually 24 hours.

If your state specifies how much notice a landlord must give, then that’s that. If your landlord doesn’t give you notice before coming over, let them know the statutory requirement in your state, and ask that they obey it – regardless of what the lease says.

Ask for a Clause in the Lease

If you live in a state that doesn’t specify when a landlord can enter the property, you can request that your landlord give you 24 hours’ notice before coming by. You can even ask that this be put in the lease before you sign it. This request is reasonable.

It’s a red flag if a landlord refuses to give you 24 hours’ notice before coming over.

The state where I live and own rental property has no formal statute on this matter, so I spell this out in my standard lease, as such:

5 Legitimate Reasons a Landlord Can Enter a Rental

Your landlord should leave you alone for the most part, which is basically what is meant by “quiet enjoyment,” a legal term that gives residents the right to enjoy the property they rent undisturbed.

But there are times when the landlord or their representative, such as a property manager, needs to come over.

1. Routine check for maintenance and safety issues

It’s typical for landlords to make a yearly, semiyearly, or quarterly inspection of the property. This allows them to protect their investment by allowing them to inspect and maintain it.

2. An emergency

If there’s a fire, water leak, or any other type of emergency, the landlord can enter with no notice to take care of the problem.

3. When a repair or service is needed

If you notified the landlord when something needs fixing, the landlord or a repair person can enter the property to get it taken care of. The landlord needs to give you notice before they or a repair person will be there.

4. To show the property

Landlords have the right to enter their rental property when they wish to show it for sale or rent. The landlord should notify you in advance, and when that time comes, you need to let them in.

Landlords, however, cannot show the property excessively. But what’s excessive to one party might not be to another. Generally, if the landlord keeps showings to two or three days during the week and maybe every other weekend that isn’t considered excessive. But daily showings probably would be.

Related: Tenants’ Rights when Selling an Occupied Rental Property

5. When you leave for an extended period

If you leave for an extended period, which is usually more than a week, the landlord typically has the right to enter the property to ensure everything is okay and to perform any preventive maintenance tasks.

What If You Don’t Let Your Landlord In?

If you don’t like the idea of your landlord ever coming in, you need to wrap your head around the idea that your landlord can come by for a valid reason.

You’re not allowed, in most states, to take self-help measures, such as changing the locks and not giving your landlord a key.

And you’re not allowed to “just say no” if your landlord is coming over for a valid reason and (unless there’s an emergency) gives you proper notice. If you do refuse entry, the landlord can come in anyway, and then potentially even terminate your lease for the violation.

Related: Lock Lock, Who’s There? The Rules for Changing Locks

Bottom Line

If your landlord plays by the rules regarding when they can enter the property, you need to also. Otherwise, you might not have your lease renewed. And if you’re a month-to-month tenant who’s being uncooperative, you might receive a notice to vacate in the near future.

But if your landlord is violating your privacy rights as a tenant, you could sue your landlord or possibly break the lease.

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124 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Bryan Wenzel

    In my lease agreement i was guaranteed 24 hour notice prior to entry by landlord or representative/repairmen, with the exception of emergencies (flooding, fire, etc), however, multiple times every month i’ve come home to find my rental apartment was entered while i was away (without any explanation or notice), or they tried to break in past the door-jam when i WAS in the apartment and in the shower. I have told them after each of these instances that i require a phone call at any time 10am-4pm the day before they wish to enter and NEVER have they done this. Do i have grounds to sue or break lease agreement because it’s starting to become a serious issue/question of security.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Bryan,
      I’m not an attorney, but it sounds as if you might be able to break the lease. Document each time the landlord breaches the lease by coming over unannounced, and speak with an attorney.

  • Courtney P

    I’ve lived here for 8 mos.. my landlord never comes over until here resently after my husband moved out two months ago he’s been caught 2 times just walking into my house not even calling to even let me know he’s coming over..the first time thank god my top lock was latched because I was in the shower and my 9 yr old told me he opened my door and tried to come in the second time I was pulling in my drive way and caught him walking out my door…I’m a. Single mom of two and work and have no family in the area so I have friends and co workers that come over to my house to sit with my kids so now he swears I have people living with me and is trying to evict me now because some of my sisters have brought animals with them .rent is always ontime

  • Elizabeth

    Thank you for providing such extensive information! I rent a room in the same house that my landlord lives in, and he had an appraiser come by this morning without notifying me. They knocked on my door while I was sleeping to have photos taken of the room I rent. I was not properly dressed and two men (I am a woman), one I did not know, invading my privacy unexpectedly felt incredibly intrusive and uncomfortable. If I’m only renting a room and not the whole house, does this still count as invasive? I wish I had simply turned them away in retrospect.

  • Martha

    Does a la dlord have the right to access your utilities I formation?

  • Courtney

    Hi! I’ve been renting my place for 4 months now. My landlord always given me 24 hours notice but has decided that she will be coming by monthly to make sure my house is “clean an I haven’t broken anything” because she says she had a bad experience with some other tenants that moved out. She even looks in my closet an takes her shoes off to make sure I swept an mopped. She has done this the last two months now an it’s getting a little ridiculous because she throws a fit about everything. I understand that it’s her property but I also have a full time job an honestly don’t have time to deal with it. I don’t feel comfortable with someone sticking their head in my closet an I feel like my privacy is being invaded. Is there something I can do?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Courtney,
      Talk with your landlord. Make sure your house is clean before the next inspection, and then when it is, tell your landlord that you would prefer less frequent inspections. If she insists on coming in monthly anyway, let her know that you will not renew the lease under those circumstances (if you mean it). You should be able to work something out because landlords want good tenants to stay. Good luck!

  • Alain

    My landlord decided to move in with a mobile home on the property that I’m renting. What are my rights ?

  • Laurie

    I rent a house from my sister they walk in my house all the time use my laundry facility walk in on me when I’m in the shower have gas in and out of my house telling me they have to use my bathroom whenever they feel like it what can I do and what are my rights

    • Deanna

      Laurie not sure what state u live in him but here in new York where I’m from no absoulety they r not allowed to just come over when they want to and feel like they want to they have to give u a 24 hr written notice saying they r coming over and they have to have a valid reason onto why they want to enter the home. U can have them arrested or even sue them for breaking and entering good luck hun and if i were u and it don’t stop i would move out and sue her for ur moving expenses

      • Frank

        Put and extra chip in your cell phone so you can take longer video on the camera get the proof you need, be creative !!!

  • James Whittington

    Can a landlord come in and break all windows and take off all the doors, while you are still living there

  • Kathy

    I have a tenant who said they have bats. I informed them that i would come by to check 24 hours ago and now they are refusing to let me in. I believe they are making up the bat excuse because I’ve already ask them to leave due to allowing their dog to pee and poop everywhere to the point that the downstairs tenant has complained about it leaking through the ceiling and smelling horribly (which we found to be true!) . now they are saying they’ve seen a bat and will sue for it… Yet no one was bitten and we’ve never had issues with bats.
    Can this tenant really refuse to let me in after I’ve given them notice that i was coming to check for possible bats ??

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Kathy,
      You have 2 issues here. The more important of the two is that you say you asked them to leave. You need to make sure you do this properly by giving written notice per the terms of your lease and the jurisdiction you are in. For example, if your tenants are on a month-to-month, you might need to give them 30 days’ notice to leave. If they don’t leave after you’ve given proper notice, you will need to evict. Regarding not letting you in to fix a problem: you are allowed to enter to make needed or requested repairs. You should always have a key to your properties for this reason unless your state doesn’t allow this. You can check the laws for your state here:

  • Sally

    I am renting a house from a friend of a friend which is my landlord . He said if we pay $200 for deposit could move in straight away so we did . He had a few days painting to do and at the end of the day went to have a shower which I thought no landlord can do this he left the door open and the first time came out with jocks on the second time he was fully naked and in shock sngery feeling sick moved from lounge to kitchen and he would follow me where ever I went . Sick ashamed hatred is Joe I feel of this old man now he’s old enough to be my dad.

  • Sally

    I am renting a house from a friend of a friend which is my landlord . He said if we pay $200 for deposit could move in straight away so we did . He had a few days painting to do and at the end of the day went to have a shower which I thought no landlord can do this he left the door open and the first time came out with jocks on the second time he was fully naked and in shock sngery feeling sick moved from lounge to kitchen and he would follow me where ever I went . Sick ashamed hatred is what I feel of this old man now he’s old enough to be my dad.

  • Sheri Adamson

    I live in Utah. My landlord has given us a 60-day notice to leave the premises. We have done nothing wrong. We pay our rent on time (we pay about $300 more per month than townhomes right across the street…same age, builder, floor plan) and take extremely good care of the town home. She wants to enter the premises with a professional photographer to take pictures of the town home so she can put it on the internet for lease (along with the address). We have a problem with her taking pictures of our personal belongings. The unit is less than one year old and she has stock photos of this place. Do we have a right to not let her take pictures that include our personal belongings?

  • Dustin massingill

    Hi I’m renting in Georgia and I’m renting month to month my lease has been up for a while now and we never renewed it my landlord sends her son to be nosy just out of the blue with no call or anything and sometime she drops in with no call is this legal no where in the lease does it say she can show up whenever she wants without a 24 hour notice.

  • robert armstrong

    does anyone no if landlord can come in and take pictures of the inside of are home and show the world everything we own on the web, flyers in front of are house on the for sale sign, we live in oregon, thank you for any help

  • Mike Jones

    You’re sort of right about that a landlord has to give 24-hour notice before coming onto the property oh, like another person stated if it’s an emergency like a pipe burst water main kind of stuff then yes they can immediately come in. But as far as if they want to see the condition of the hardwood floor or something like that tell him no you wouldn’t want me coming into your house would you

  • Babs

    In California when property management gives you a 24 or 48 hour notice to enter the property for legitimate reasons, does this time limit include or exclude Saturday and Sunday if tenants are notified on the friday before they state they will be entering the apartment?

  • Babs

    Can a property manager enter a property at 8:30 a.m. if the notice states they will be entering the property at 9:00 a.m., for legitimate reasons?

  • Brad

    Touchy situation here. Landlord sent a notice on Saturday that they would need access to the unit. We have a 17 year old girl living in the household. Today they showed up while she was in the shower. I was under the impression that we would get a notice just before they entered so we could either be there when they actually entered or give permission. Last place we rented would not enter when only the 17 year old was home.
    I think it would just be common curtesy to give us a heads up that they would be by in 14-20 mins. Is this common ? Are there laws about entering a rental property when minors are the only ones present? We live in New York State

  • Stephen M Furbush

    We moved into our apartment in May 2019. Management did an inspection (with proper notice), of all units, on July 23, 2019. Now they say they will do another inspection (with proper notice), of all units, on August 7, 2019. That’s two weeks later. I asked the manager why and if they had found anything wrong the first time, they said they had found nothing wrong. In fact: The manager is not doing the inspections, but rather (I assume), an agent of management. So a stranger will be walking through our (home), two times within a two week period. Is that not unreasonable, and perhaps even illegal? Thank you, Steve

  • Aubrey

    My landlord in SC sent a letter stating she would conduct an annual inspection one day between August 1st and August 30th would that be considered a “proper notice”?

  • Ann

    If you live in the state of California landlord must give you 48 hour notice now they cannot continue to come in and out of the apartment if it’s an emergency purposes yes if the landlord continues that you have the right to go to just cause of action you can break this lease document everything if the landlord is giving you a generic lease agreement not a CAR which stands for California real estate agreement you are working with the unethical landlord a landlord must give you the right to privacy and peace that is implied in the law it is not implied in the lease and it is the law of state of California

  • shirley

    I put on the lease which they signed that I COULD COME INSIDE THE HOUSE
    to inspect AT ANYTIME to see if all the brand new appliances were not damaged, and also I have a storage building on the property and I have the only key , lease says I CAN COME ANYTIME to get in my storage building. can I go in the house without notifying them and get in my storage building when the lease says I can COME ANYTIME ?

    • Carol Hutchinson

      Invade their living space at any time only if you want to be sued. You’re not supposed to supervise their housekeeping; only to check if there’s no leaks, mold, or damage once a year or so. Do you have nothing better to do than invade your tenants’ privacy? I’m a property owner and you’d be surprised how easy it is to be sued.

  • Cathy

    I have a landlady who rarely gives advance notice or cancels the last minute when she is going to arrive. She gives me home projects to fix up her home. This condo as a foreclosure and she thinks of ways to renovate it at my expense. I have taken off days from work because they were painting the complex and needed the door open to paint. I took off time to get the garage door fixed. I took off time to get the central acs installed. It was a major project. I have valuables in my home and have to be here. I am always agreeable but it has gotten to the point that I cannot take another day off from work. Can I ask my landlord to reimburse me for days taken off? I don’t understand the “breaking lease” thing since moving is a stressful option.

    • Carol Hutchinson

      She orders you to repair and remodel her property?? Is that what you’re doing instead of paying rent? If so, you need a specific written agreement. If not, and you’re paying rent, this is outrageous and you need to sue her for your expenses and lost wages.

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