Tenants have the right to privacy in their rental unit. However, there are certain legal reasons a tenant must let a landlord enter their apartment. Before entering the apartment, a landlord is usually required to give a tenant advance notice. Learn ten times a tenant must let a landlord in.
In general, a landlord is allowed to enter a tenant's rental unit for issues directly related to the property. This includes:
- The maintenance of the property.
- The sale or rental of the property.
- Health or safety concerns.
- When granted access by a court order.
Here are 10 specific examples of times where a landlord may have the legal right to enter a tenant’s apartment.
Many states require landlords to perform a move-out inspection prior to a tenant’s move-out to inspect the unit to determine if there is any damage. This is also referred to as a walk-through inspection. A landlord must usually provide the tenant with advance notice of the date and time this inspection will take place, even if they're a live-in landlord.
Under landlord-tenant law, a landlord must keep the rental property in a habitable condition. This includes making ordinary repairs, necessary repairs, and repairs that have been requested specifically by the tenant.
Decorations, Alterations or Improvements
A landlord has a right to enter a tenant’s unit for the purposes of making aesthetic changes or improvements to the unit. Adding central air conditioning to a unit that did not previously have it would be an example of an improvement.
To Deliver Large Packages
If the tenant has received a package that is too large to fit in the tenant’s normal mailbox, the landlord has the right to deliver the package to the tenant themselves.
To Provide Services
The landlord has the right to enter the tenant's apartment to provide necessary services or those that have been agreed to or requested by the tenant.
To Show the Apartment
The landlord has the right to enter the tenant’s unit to show the tenant's apartment. This could include showing the unit to prospective tenants, actual tenants who will be living in the unit once the current tenant leaves, prospective buyers, actual buyers, appraisers, mortgagees, repairmen or contractors.
Under Court Orders
A landlord can enter the unit if a court has granted the landlord access.
Tenant Has Abandoned the Premises
If the tenant has abandoned the unit, the landlord has the right to enter. States have different laws for when the unit is considered abandoned. The landlord will need to get rid of any possessions left behind and get the apartment ready to show to prospective tenants.
Tenant Has Violated Health or Safety Codes
In situations where the tenant is violating health or safety codes, the landlord has the right to enter the unit to fix the issue.
To Issue Eviction or Ejection Notice
A landlord can enter the unit when accompanied by a law enforcement officer to issue a service of process order regarding the eviction.
Harassment Is Illegal
The landlord must never abuse the privilege to enter the tenant’s apartment or attempt to enter the unit to harass the tenant. Examples of harassment include cutting off necessary services or repeatedly entering a tenant's rental without notice.
When Can the Landlord Legally Enter?
A landlord is required to enter a tenant’s unit only during “reasonable hours.” These hours may differ by state, but, generally, normal business hours of 9 a.m to 6 p.m. would be acceptable times for a landlord to enter.
Emergency Situations- If there is an emergency, a landlord can enter the tenant’s unit at any time. Examples of emergencies would include:
- A gas leak at the property
- A fire
- Flooding at the property
- A natural disaster which could pose an immediate danger to the tenant
Repairs Requested by the Tenant
If a tenant has specifically asked the landlord to repair or service something in his or her unit, the landlord may enter the unit during additional hours. The landlord can enter the apartment at any hour of the day, as long as the landlord and tenant both agree to this time.
Performing Normal Services
When a landlord must perform scheduled services that have been spelled out in the lease agreement, they can usually enter the tenant’s unit during normal business hours, between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. These services could include pest control or changing air-conditioning or furnace filters.
Is Advance Notice Required?
Landlords are usually required to give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice before entering the tenant’s unit, regardless of the reason for entering. This requirement may be lifted for events such as:
- Regularly Scheduled Maintenance
- For Health and Safety Violations
- Abandonment of the Unit
- Under Court Orders
However, in these situations, the landlord must still announce him or herself and the reason for needing access to the unit before entering.
Can a Tenant Change the Door Locks?
No, a tenant is not permitted to change the door locks on his or her unit unless he or she first consults the landlord and is granted permission by the landlord to do so. Even if permission is granted, the tenant usually has a certain number of days to provide the landlord with a set of keys that can open the new locks.