Is It Okay To Enter the Property While Rented?

April 6th, 2014 by Dodie

Is it okay to enter the property while rented?  The answer is yes and no.  Generally, property owners must be informed of their state laws before assuming they can enter their rental property, and that includes balconies, garages, and yards.  Nearly half the states have statues detailing when and under what conditions landlords can go into rented property.

Entering the Property While Rented

Some states have laws covered in court opinions which establish the tenants’ rights to privacy for that state.  Some states have no laws that restrict a landlord from entering rented property.  Tenants, legally, can expect their lease to assure “quiet enjoyment” of the premises.  This covenant generally provides the tenants protection from landlord entries that significantly diminish a tenant’s ability to feel at home and relax.  The following summarizes when it’s okay to enter the property while rented.

  • With Permission

Landlords may enter the rental property when given tenant permission.  Requests for entry include repairs or bi-annual walk-throughs.

  • Emergencies

For true emergencies, landlords have the right to enter the property.  This includes fires, broken water pipes, or floods.

  • Repairs, Maintenance, and Improvements

Landlords are able to enter to make needed repairs, check smoke alarms, deal with maintenance issues, or make improvements.  Repair men, contractors, and designers are also allowed entry.  Landlords are required to give appropriate notice and enter only at designated times.

  • Showing Rental Property

Landlords have the right to show the property to prospective tenants if a lease is about to expire, the current tenants have given notice, the property is up for sale, or the owner wants to refinance.  The tenant must oblige the property owner’s “reasonable efforts” in these cases.

  • Abandonment

Landlords may enter the premises if they suspect the rental property has been abandoned.  Depending on the state, landlords may be able to enter during lengthy tenant absences for needed maintenance issues.

Landlord Entry – Proper Notice

For non-emergency situations, landlords are required to give at least a 24-hour written notice to tenants before entering rented property.  Most states specify that amount of notice property owners are required to give, although some states require the landlord to give “reasonable” notice.  Reasonable is defined differently in different states, however, less than four hours’ notice is unanimously considered “unreasonable” for non-emergency situations.  Proper notice is required unless the tenant is available and consents to the entry.  Once notice is given, tenants are not required to be present.

Landlords are allowed to enter at “reasonable times” but most states are not specific about the hours.  A few states stipulate “normal business hours.”

If the property is for sale, the landlord is able to give the tenant 24-hour oral notice of the date and time the property will be shown, as long as, the tenant has received written notice of the property’s sale status in the last 120 days.  After showing the unit, property owners need to leave a written notice of entry for the tenant.  Tenants are not able to refuse entry if the relevant rules have been respected.

Tenant Cooperation

Property owners can legally enter rented property during “reasonable times” if tenants won’t cooperate requests for entry.  The entry must be peaceful without significant conflict with the tenant.  Uncooperative tenants may be evicted for lease violation, as long as, it contains a standard right-of-entry provision.

Tenant screening companies that conduct credit and background checks of all prospective tenants can be of service to landlords.  Find out before you rent if a tenant has a history of non-cooperation or rental property damage.  Protecting your investment begins before you sign the lease.

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