Most landlords are happy to not have to stop by your property or unit, but there some nebby ones (Pittsburgh-speak for nosy) who may seem to always be coming by. Of course, there are also times when the landlord will need to enter your rental unit. So when is your landlord within his or her rights to enter your apartment, and when are they violating your rights as a renter?
The general rule, and it differs by state and local jurisdiction, is that a landlord should give you 24 hours notice before entering the property. They should also have a practical reason for why they need to enter the unit. Now, we're not talking about simply being on the property, like in the front yard, which may be needed to meet a gardener for tree trimming or other issues. The 24 hours notice is really for entering the property or an area that may be fenced off, like your back yard. Regardless, respectful landlords will always try to give as much notice as possible whenever they will be at a tenant’s place. After all, they know that few people like unannounced guests showing up at the house.
Of course, there are situations where a landlord may enter your property on even shorter notice, such as if they believe that there is an emergency at the property. For example, if a neighbor calls them and says there is water pouring out the front door and the owner can’t get in touch with you, it’s reasonable to expect them to immediately enter your place to try to resolve the issue quickly. That type of entry is allowed by laws and many leases, and is a logical reason an owner might enter a property without delay. Other issues are if there is a fire, an electrical concern, or if they believe someone in the property is hurt or needs medical attention.
The 24-hour notice guideline would apply in non-emergency situations where an owner would need to enter the property, like if the owner is showing the property to new prospective tenants or a buyer because your lease is ending or if they are selling the property. Additionally, if the owner needs to show the property to a contractor to get bids for doing work, a 24-hour notice is reasonable. Other items may be if the owner simply wants to do a property inspection that is allowed in the lease.
But what if the owner seems to be violating your rights as renter by excessively going into your apartment, or just going into your place without a reasonable reason? Well, that gets a little tougher.
If the owner is a big company, the person who is violating the rules may be a property manger, maintenance person, or other employee of the company. You can complain to company management in writing, and in the vast majority of the cases, that should resolve the issue.
If the owner is an individual or small mom-and-pop-type landlord, it might be a little tougher. Different people have different opinions as to what is reasonable, and maybe the owner thinks stopping by the property unannounced on a monthly basis is okay. The laws generally prohibit this behavior, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen.
A good course of action would be to try to let them know, in a diplomatic fashion, that you are taking care of their property, you are a good tenant, and that you would prefer if they either give you 24-hour notice and/or you would prefer they do not stop by the property unless there is a need to do so. Hopefully, that will resolve the issue.
If it doesn’t, or they do not change their behavior (and you are being reasonable), you can give them notice in writing and try to resolve the issue that way. If that doesn’t work, you might want to try some mediation services, or you may have to talk to an attorney about your rights under your lease. The good news is that you probably have a one-year lease at the longest, which means you can move out when your lease is up. Just think how bad it could be if you owned the house and your neighbor was the real nuisance, like this lady!
Those are the main scenarios that you could encounter as a tenant and a few suggestions to try to help you resolve the issues. Hopefully, you won’t encounter problems during your tenancy. If you do, though, try to handle it professionally and make the best choice you can to resolve the issue.