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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135 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Christy Cook

    After ten years of settling in our landlord decides to move back here and take the farm over. My husband and I have until June to find a place. He has already been moving his tractor and other stuff witch he is storing in the garage that we’re paying rent and electricity on. The garage is separate from the house but we still pay rent and electricity on it and keep my truck in it but he has had his stuff on the opposite side the whole 10 years to where my husband has not had no place to put his truck but the point is now we feel like he’s moving in on us by moving his stuff in little by little we feel like we’re being crowded, and or pushed out and we’re paying electricity and rent. It’s like he can’t wait till we’re out before he starts

  • Sierra

    So, my roommates and I rent a property that has a house and unattached garage (in the back yard). Because of mold and a damaged roof, our landlord doesn’t let us have access to it. However, his family uses it as a secondary storage location, and they let other people come and go on the property to drop off and pick up stuff. They walk right by our bedrooms into the back yard. We don’t get any notice when these people come. Is this allowed? They’re on the property, but they’re not entering the house. Is it within our rights to tell them we require a two day notice for this?

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  • Elisa Espinoza

    Hi yes I have a question so we live in Apple valley ca and we rent and the owner is always coming in the house and taking our food and just being in our space and my parents had an agreement he can live on the property but in his lil cabin outside that he made and we pay rent he pays nothing he showers my parents pay for the water and we try saying something but we don’t wanna get kicked out what can we do oh and he’s usually drunk and on medicine so sometimes high we don’t wanna move or lose the house what should we do !!

    • Ana

      You are all enabling the bad landlord manager to abuse your right to peaceful enjoyment of your rented space. If you all can give a down payment for a home if your own do so so only renters who pay rent utility can share back house
      Now protect yourselves videotape him doing drugs saying he won’t pay utilities causing you the tenant to invite the costs. Ask him to pay a portion and stop getting drunk or high on drugs. Tell him you’ve talked him and he can’t throw you out or you will sue him for civil rights violations. Tell him you appreciate renting paying him rent but he isn’t family to you or if he thinks he is to out property in your name and his to be part of the family.He seems just lonesome by his bad habits.!?

  • Joseph

    My landlord is constantly making changes to the property I rent with little to no notice as well as they constantly use my hose to do work in the yard and they want to use the yard for storage for random workers, etc. To constantly come back and fourth. and the house was split illegally and remodeled with no permits, along with not providing me with 2 car spaces as the lease states i have. They make me park in a lot next door where they supposedly joined deeds to the land and code compliance does not want my cars parked there can they do anything that I stated

  • Terry Gonzalez

    My landlord Is demolishing our building soon. I still live there and because of the pandemic situation, we are protected for now. No evictions are being allowed . He asked to come in to check for hazardous material before demolition. Is he allowed ?

  • Valerie Love

    My husband & I moved from California to Illinois in August 2019 & we are renting a single story townhouse in Illinois. Our landlord, & his son that is not even on our lease, think they can just show up here unannounced at any time they want & they enter the fenced in backyard & walk up to the deck area & look all around where our belongings are. They always park in the back lot, never in front where we can see them arrive, & the son will walk around the unit to the front & walk through the brick & rocks, not on the sidewalk, right in front of our bay window & he looks inside it as he walks by & it scares the s… out of us, then he goes to the mailbox next to the front door that the son installed below our mailbox. What are my rights???

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