Tip #17

NO!, You Can’t Just “Pop-In”

Written on December 4, 2012 by , updated on June 8, 2014

Landlord Math

Most state laws require that Landlords give “proper notice” before showing up at the rental property.  This rule is designed to protect a tenant’s right to privacy and “quiet enjoyment”.

The amount of notice varies from state to state, but is usually about 24 hours.  In an emergency (injured person, a fire, or broken pipe), you can usually enter without giving any notice, but those instances are far and few between.

Besides being illegal, showing up without giving proper notice will irritate your tenants.  They will lose respect for you, which could lead to the tenants “forgetting” to pay rent.  If you want to be treated with respect, you need to treat them with respect.

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9 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • Shawn

    Does this go both ways? My tenant showed up, unannounced, on New Year’s Day while the whole family was enjoying a movie. Of course, if it had been an emergency I could understand it, but he was upset and wanted to talk. Should I always be available or is it ok to let him know I am only available certain hours, unless it is an emergency?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Shawn,
      The state rental laws usually only apply to the landlord showing up at the tenant’s house. Because the landlord technically owns the property, he or she is allowed to access it without it being considered trespassing – so it’s important for the laws to regulate the conditions upon which the landlord can “pop in”.

      However, a tenant has no legal right to any other property that they are not renting – i.e. your personal residence. If they are not invited nor welcome, then they are the same as a stranger who is trespassing, and you can treat them as such. You have to obligation to deal with a non-emergency when he shows up unannounced. If that happened to a professional property manager, they would have said “Thanks for stopping by, but I’ll call you on the next business day and we can talk about it then.”

      • Sandy Adams

        Even owners who manage their own rental properties can set regular business hours when they will be available for non-emergency issues. I suggest rental owners put something in the contract to make it clear to their residents.
        The only thing I would add to the article is to remind owners that required proper notice includes walking into the tenant’s back yard.

  • Isabela

    I understand landlord can’t pop in to your home. But what about yard?

    Our landlord converted her house into a duplex so we live in the backyard side meaning that’s where our door is. Is she allowed to pop in our yard?

    • Lucas Hall

      Hi Isabela,

      Generally speaking, if there are multiple units in a building, the outdoor space is typically considered common area, unless it is clearly fenced off marked as private space for your unit in the lease.

      Please know that this is just a general rule of thumb and not a legal answer. I’m not a lawyer.

  • V

    I’ve never had to break a lease before, but my current apartment is becoming difficult to live in. Would it be enough to break the lease without penalty if in 5 months the landlords have burned broth 2 times in the middle of the night so the rancid stench comes upstairs (no call or explanation), come in the apartment once a month to access the attic (even though in the lease it’s listed as being accessed for long term storage), had to be asked to clean the sheet of ice driveway because our car slid down it in the middle of the night, slam one of their doors multiple times a day, and seemingly held onto a vital piece of my mail for days until it miraculously appeared “under their doormat” one day.

  • Sue K

    To break a lease, your place would have to be uninhabitable, e.g., your landlord has failed to provide you with hot water, heat and/or free of pests.
    in your case, your Landlord certainly sounds oblivious and bothersome, but has still provided a “habitable” living space.

  • Angela

    My landlord likes to come by far too often it seems to be nosey (in my opinion now), and he either gives very short notice or the other day, gave no notice at all and showed up with someone to show my apartment to. I’m wanting to get out of the lease but don’t know what to do.

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