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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75 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Maria Sanchez

    Please, can you help me. I have a landlord a lady renting her property for 16 months . now she hired a management company. A lady left a note outside at my door that she was coming for inspection. I did not have an idea who was Vega investment. So, I ignored the note. I was out town and she entered to my house It is legal? She has the right to enter to a property that her name it’s not in my contract? I didn’t receive any notice from my landlord that she was hired a management co.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Maria,
      Don’t ignore notes like that. It’s better when you see something like that to contact your landlord to verify that this company was hired by her. If so, then yes, they can come in for periodic inspections after giving proper notice. If not, your landlord should know about a possible scam, in which case, you should notify the police.

      • Maria Sanchez

        My question?
        By law should the landlord has to send me a note saying that she hired a management co?
        How the lady came inside to my house without any notes that saying that she represents my landlord?
        Thank you

      • Lyssa Perdue

        I’m curious, I informed my manager of a issue with a ceiling fan cutting out on a Friday, she informed me it would be fixed that day and she’d send the maintenance guy over. I waited all day and he never showed, I then left for the weekend, arrived home from work Monday morning and laid down. A few hours later pounding on the door, when I did not respond right away they just entered. Is this okay? I never got a notice saying they’d be there that day or time and I definitely did not give permission to enter as I was half asleep

        • Laura Agadoni

          Hi Lyssa,
          Although this was not handled particularly well, it sounds as if your fan is now fixed. Just chalk this one up to knowledge for next time, if there is a next time. If the maintenance person doesn’t show up, call management, and set up another time. Also stress that maintenance can’t just enter without permission unless there is an emergency.

          • Lyssa Perdue

            So they are returning in about 2-6 weeks to replace the fan and I asked for a notice next time, if they do not give one again and this reoccurs what should I do about it

      • Kristine Wine

        My landlord came in my home while I was out of town it wasn’t exactly tidy she never told us said she wanted to come inspect the home Monday came it was in perfect shape cussed us out said she didn’t want us living there because when she went in without us knowing it wasn’t to her standards what can I do she very well talked to us like a dog

        • Laura Agadoni

          Hi Kristine,
          If you have a lease, you can stay until the lease ends unless you violate a lease term. In that case, your landlord could evict you. If you are a month-to-month tenant, your landlord needs to only give you notice to leave per your state law, typically 30 days. If you want to stay, have a talk with your landlord.

  • Natalie Baird

    My landlord has allowed his girlfriend who is a sketchy character to run the property. She is unlicensed and I believe is a convicted felon. She has tried to enter the premises while I was not home. I have video. They have showed up without notice for the last month to do random yardwork and exterior painting. She is homeless and will not leave us alone. My husband is worried if I stand up for our rights we will get kicked out. We were given a 24 hour notice they will be changing the entryway lock (even though the landlord has a key for the lock) and his girlfriend has said they will need access mon-fri, sat, and possibly Sunday until further notice. This seems unreasonable and the 24 hour notice she gave me is not legal in any way.

  • Dara M Hughes

    What times of the day can a la dlord come by my house? My landlord always wants to come by when we are eating dinner etc….like 8pm, is this legal?

  • Kim M Martin

    Hello,

    My landlord comes over once a month to collect the rent, however, sometimes he will bring his mother or father with him. They all own the house together. But they will ask if they can go see the backyard or look around the house. Is this legal without a notice telling me when they plan to do this? It gets frustrating never knowing who will be coming and what they want to look at.

    Thanks for your help!

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Kim,
      Since they ask, you can politely tell them no. Read your lease to see whether anything about regular inspections are mentioned. If not, let them know if they want to inspect the house to please give you proper notice.

  • Glenda Guerrero

    Hello,

    Can my property manager come in 6 consecutive days from 9am to 6 pm? I have asked them to contact me an hour before entering for privacy reasons. Are they allowed to do that?

  • Derek Torres

    Hi my Tenants have been entering my backyard without my consent. Are they trespassing?

  • Ben Crawford

    I have one for ya… my landlord owns a 3 bedroom house in Madison, Ms. He rents out all the bedrooms separately. I rent one. He rents mine to me for $135/wk. I had to pay a $300 deposit. He comes over everyday and sits in the common area. In the joke of a lease, he made us initial a clause saying he could enter our rooms to inspect. Also, we can’t fry chicken or fish. Can’t cook any food after 6:30, can’t do anything to improve the property, no pets , yet he brings his over all the time, He says it’s his house and can do anything he wants because we are just renting a room. We have to ask permission for someone to come over / stay the night. I’m 51 years old!!
    Guest are only allowed between 10am and 9pm. Is this legal for him to do?

  • WorriedRenter

    If the landlord sends an email in the afternoon stating they “are working on getting a contractor tomorrow” (i.e. haven’t yet secured the contractor) and the landlord will “let me know when they have a good idea of the time the contractor will be there” (but doesn’t supply a specific time), is that really proper notice? Also, I don’t even know which repair this contractor is for.

    (My state does not have a statute, but recommends at least 24 hours notice, in writing, for the intent of the landlord to enter; the Attorney General defined reasonable hours as Monday – Friday 9am-5pm, excluding holidays.)

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi WorriedRenter,
      It sounds as though your landlord is giving you a heads up that they will be giving you notice, which is an extra step they don’t even need to do. They could just tell you when their contractor is coming once they have a set time (typically a window), and usually at least a day before. But now you know that you can expect a contractor will come at some point in the near future and that your landlord will communicate again once they have more information. So your landlord sounds like a good communicator to me.

  • California renter

    Hello, I rent a house in California. The landlord comes over 1-2 times a week to do yard work or just look around. Can he do that? If I was out of town for two days can he enter the house? He also surrounded the yard with caution tape because he doesn’t want us stepping on the yard or have kids play on it because he doesn’t want it to dry out even though it always tries out regardless. He can he also do that? Thank you.

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi California renter,
      Read your lease to see what the yard policy is. Someone needs to keep up with the yard. Your landlord cannot come into your house without notifying you unless there is an emergency. And speak with your landlord about accessing the yard.

  • Christina

    It is trying to terminate my lease without calls she has came over with her husband harassing me I’m having problems with her taking down the pool and today she has informed me that she wants to do an inspection of the home on Friday when I will not be home. She was just here on August 1st. I’m not sure I feel safe as her and her husband were threatening me and yelling when they came on the 1st of August. Do I have the right to ask her to reschedule unnecessary inspection ? I think she is being retaliatory because in Nov she had the well water tested and it came back unsafe.I asked her what she did to fix the well water because my 3yo was diagnosed hfa and she told me she didn’t do into anything I was supposed to be boiling the water

  • Jonathan Drury

    I have a question can my landlord just walk in my house. Without asking me.

  • Mario

    I was at work when my land lord called me after that fact that she went into my unit. Second time she does that is that legal?

  • wanda

    i live in an efficiency lodge..the manager is akway treating people that she is throwing them out..right after they pay there rooms rent..some people like me pay every two weeks..i have been here three years.never late..no refunds here..when sher does throw them out..she reads there mail..and if it’s good she tells people..my credit card bills are always open when i get them..i talked to the post master and it stopped..now when she hands me my mail..she will say..what is this.as she check where or whom it’s from.she had just installed cameras..and uses them to get advantage..invation of people’s privacy. you hear everyone’s bussines..she watches you leave she watched you come back..i have had things taken from room ..so I put locks on cabin

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