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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21 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Kotkoda

    I don’t think it’s correct to say “Landlords have the right to enter their rental property WHEN THEY WISH to show it for sale or rent”. This may vary by state, but if it interferes with the “enjoyment of property” the landlord can be fined. For example, my landlord (or rather the property manager) demanded to come in to show the our apartment when my child is napping. I told her she can come in anytime EXCEPT those 2 hours midday. She first said they have to find a renter bla bla bla and if she could come in just quietly. I said it nicely, but said no that is not ok. Finally, after 2 emails she understood. Of course, I did look up my rights for “enjoyment” and “privacy”. Also, we gave almost 3 months notice instead of 20 days…

    • sabrina webster

      i have a situtation. im a landlord and this young couple begged me to rent them my former house.so i did, 4 months later and them not wanting to pay my rent .they were late and thry told me to come by 9 days after it was due.now my state has no statute on entrying. i pull up nobodys home. the neighbors said my house had been broken into. i had texted the renters for 2 days no response.then the neighbor tells me they changed their no.so i couldnt find them.any way to make a long story short. i ask the sheriff if i can inspect my house. they said no not without the renters permission. i tell them but my lease states i can. if you step one foot on that property we will arrest you for trespassing.and people wonder why rent is so high in n.c.

  • Kathie douthit

    I’m curious about co owners of a trailer one of the owners lives there and pays the space rent along with all the other bills acquired from living there etc… the second owner lives elsewhere so what would laws be on her entering at will. With them being “co owner & co owner” rather than “co owner and renter”?

  • Cindy

    I live in Utah, my landlord is a bully and a tyrant, I’m pretty sure he has broken just about every tenant/landlord law there is. In fact he just left after coming in WITH a repairman to look at the air conditioner. The notice I got? He called my husband at work, about 30 minutes before he was at my door.
    My husband and I have lived her a little more than 3 years, I have asked for the air to be fixed since before we moved in. I finally called the city inspector in Jan. He brought an eviction notice the day after the inspector was here. He included non payment of April’s rent to file for eviction, while the check was in his pocket. He cashed it as soon as we left the courtroom. Who enforces the law without me paying a $3,000 retainer??

  • Byrdy

    We just moved in less than a month ago, 3 inspections for us TO move in, and 3 more by 7/18. One for prospective buyers, one for mgt members and one for HUD. I do understand that with prior notice HUD has an inspection of safety type. As much as I understand a desire to keep an eye on ones investment, at what point is enough? 6 inspections in a month … REALLY? Do tenants NOT have rights to thier privacy not being infringed? We keep a very clean house, NOTHING unsafe or illegal…WTF?

    • Theresa Randle

      I live in apts, where they inspect every 90 days, I feel this is a violation of my rights, 4 times a yr, they go through my refrigerator, my bathrooms ,closets, my rent is never late! WE are allowed 1 chair and 1 plant on our patio, and have been asked to bring the chair in at night! WE are not allowed to hang our wet mop out to dry, therefore it sours! Help please!

    • Dee Stuart

      My property management has entered my apartment six separate times in 15 months. For smoke alarms, check for leaks (I would contact them if I had a leak) to check filters in heater, A/C, to check for odor of cigarettes, for property appraisal etc. I recently lost a family member and called the operations manager and asked for privacy during this difficult time. I came home today from choosing an urn for my nephew and yet another note on my front door advising they would enter the apartment. At what point is this considered enough. I feel harassed and no longer comfortable in my apartment. This property has a D- with the BBB and has had multiple on site managers in the 15 months I’ve lived here.

  • J

    I have a year lease I signed before my land lady remodeled the common/room living area into rooms which she says she will use as an office. I liked using that common room and I would not have agreed to renew if I knew that it would not be availible. I do not have time to move out or the ability to find a new place.
    Is it illegal for her to change the conditions of the house without notifying me before renewing my lease? What can I do?

  • Tomas Fernandez Jr

    my under standing of annual
    inspection is once a year am
    I wrong?? the manager never has
    a check off list. When I let manager
    know that some thing needs to be
    fixed I have to go to office and have
    a work order put in. Isn’t that the
    managers responsibly?

  • Jame Bowen and rochelle higginbotham

    Does the landlord have to let you know in 24 notice when he have is co workers to show up .and another thing does he have the right to tell your spouse that I can’t talk to him.can cause only do business with men

  • henry

    Landlord said he was coming on certain day in AM ,he put on notice it is afternoon 3 pm and he never showed . Can he still walk in anytime today or tonight

  • Heidi

    My landlord uses small maintenance and improvements as an excuse to enter the apartments at her rental property. She comes once a month right around when rent is due to make sure the tenants are keeping the place clean enough. Her standards of cleanliness are ridiculous. You could have the place spotless and she will tear you to pieces. We always feel like we have no privacy. Can she come in our apartment once a month to inspect the apartment?

  • Chris

    We live in Colorado our lease states tenants are responsible for yard maintenance. My landlord asked if she could come over to trim plants. We told her wet eout of town and would like to help if she could wait. She said she’d be at the house in 30 minutes. 1 hr later we get a text message from her letting us know she was inside the house because she saw a broken chair outside and wanted to check the condition of the house. She didn’t notify us before entering and it clearly was not an emergency. Is this legal? The lease states she can come in for repairs and inspection but I would think a notification is required….

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Chris,
      I’m not an attorney, so I can’t give you legal advice. I can give you some practical advice, though. When there is no statute about how much notice a landlord must give before entry, as is the case in CO, this should be in the lease. If not, it’s a good idea to discuss this issue with your landlord and ask for more notice before entry next time. Bottom line: while nice to get 24 hours notice, there is no law in CO to that effect.

  • Rubí

    My landlord wants repair my bathtub that takes 5 days , and in 3 days I won’t be able to use it, to take a shower. I told him to work on it in the future months I’ll be free from my work. Alredy, he told me would be starting next week.
    Can he access my apartment without a permission without a deal? This is not an urgent work.
    Iowa

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Rubi,
      Generally for work that is not an emergency, the landlord needs to get the tenant’s permission to come in to do work that will be disruptive. You have options. You can refuse. If you do, though, the landlord might give you a notice to vacate if you are a month-to-month tenant, so that they can do the work. You can ask for rent abatement for the days you will be unable to shower. You can ask to be reimbursed for staying in a hotel/motel during the time work is being done. Of course, those are all generalities. I can’t speak on specific situations. Good luck.

  • Diana

    I recently started dating and everytime I go over to my bf’s house when we are in the middle of sex his landlord also his aunt always enters his apartment and bangs on his bedroom door yelling at us to shut up when we’re not even being loud only cause the heater ventilator is right above his bed and you can hear everything from there. Can we sue her for doing so?

  • Christy Edmunds

    I was wondering, if the landlord/manager gives a 24 hr notice but doesn’t show up within that 24 hr time frame do they still have the right to come in either the next day or even days later?

    • Laura Agadoni

      Hi Christy,
      If the landlord misses their window, they should reschedule with you. You can reach out to your landlord, and ask them, since they missed their window, to let you know when they will be over. A landlord can also tell you several days or more in advance, such as they let you know on Monday that they will be there on Thursday. The point is letting the tenant plan on someone being there a certain day or time.

  • Blanca daniels

    I am going to rent a house but the owner is gonna live right next to it same property he build an apartment I feel a little unsecured by him having the keys to enter. I am concern because my daughter is only 13 and some times he stays alone. Can I please have some advisses about my rights or protection of privacy. Please

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