A tenant will often think of the rented property as his or her own. It is where they live and sleep. The tenant has set up many of their belongings, decorated the place to suit their tastes, and has made the space as personal as possible. However, we know that the tenant does not really own the place. Although tenants have rights that they enjoy because of the rent that they pay, the landlord who rightfully owns the place has rights over it too.
The rights that the landlord and the tenants share over the rental property can become blurry. The tenants have their right to privacy. In fact, they have every right to be left alone in peace in his rented home. Other people, including the landlord, should be able to respect this. However, the landlord, as the legal owner of the property have responsibilities over the property and to the tenants, which gives him legal rights to enter the rental property, even if it is occupied.
Legitimate Reasons a Landlord Can Visit a Rental Property
Many states have statutes on the valid and lawful reasons that a landlord can enter a rented property. Here are the most common legitimate reasons that allow the landlord to enter an occupied rental property.
1. Routine check for maintenance and safety issues
It is the responsibility of the landlord to ensure that the rental property satisfies basic safety requirements and basic habitability requirements. The rented property must at all times have working and adequate protection and weatherproofing. It must have available heat, electricity, and water for the tenants at all times. It must also be clean, sanitary, and healthy for the occupants.
Lastly, the integrity of the structure must be maintained, and the property must be structurally safe. Electrical wiring must be checked, smoke detectors must be working, safety locks must be in place and operational, and ventilation must be sufficient.
2. An emergency
In some cases, a landlord must give 24-hour notice before he plans to enter a rental property. An exception can be made in emergency cases. These can include cases of fire, gas leaks, water leaks, flooding, and other emergencies that require immediate fix and attention, for the safety of the tenants, the property itself, and the surrounding neighborhood. If the tenant needs medical attention, this can also be considered as an emergency.
3. When a repair or service is needed
When a tenant calls in or reports damages and problems in the rented property which must be fixed, it is the responsibility of the landlord to fix the damage as soon as possible. Landlords are legally obliged to keep the rented property livable and safe, not just to its occupants but also to its surrounding community.
Repairs needed may be minor, but that does not mean they can be ignored. If the minor problem may cause a larger problem, or affect the habitability of the rental, then the landlord is obliged to fix them.
4. To show the property
Selling a rental property, should the landlord wish, is the right of the landlord as the property’s rightful owner. It could be that the landlord is moving to another state. The property may not be performing well, and the return of investment is not that good.
It may also be that the landlord just inherited the property and has no wish to be a landlord. Whatever the reason, occupied or not, a landlord can sell his rental property.
Additional steps and considerations must be taken by the landlord if the rental property is occupied. Landlords have the legal right to enter their rental property if they want to show it to a prospective buyer. However, the landlord should notify the tenant beforehand, at least 24 hours before schedule.
5. When the tenant leaves for an extended schedule
If the tenant leaves for an extended period of time, say at least a week, the landlord can legally enter the rental property during the absence of the tenant. This is so that the landlord can ensure that everything is well and safe in the property. The landlord can also perform preventive maintenance tasks during this time, to ensure the safety of the property and the neighborhood.
If the tenant abandons the rental property indefinitely and without notice, the landlord can legally enter the property. The landlord can also get rid of the remaining properties of the tenant who has gone AWOL and perform the tasks necessary to prepare the rental property for prospective tenants.
If the landlord has received an order for possession from legal authorities, he can also enter the rental property.
How Should You Notify Tenants? What are the Law Requirements across Different States?
Many states have their own requirements on the amount of notice required, if the visit is not an emergency. If you live in a state that does not have a specific statute on the notice required, both landlord and tenant may refer to the lease or rental agreement signed, if there is a clause on landlord’s entry in the rental property. The notice must be in writing, and must indicate the date and time the landlord will visit the property.
Here are some of the common amount of notice needed in some states, and where they are applicable.
- 24 Hours
This is the most common amount of notice needed among most states for non-emergency visits to the rental property. This is applicable for the states of Alaska, California, Iowa, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, and Virginia.
- 48 Hours
There are states that require at least two days of notice for non-emergency visits from the landlord. These states include Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Kentucky, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington.
- Reasonable notice
Some states only require reasonable notice for non-emergency landlord visits. These states are Connecticut, Indiana, Kansas, Minnesota, New Hampshire, North Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Massachusetts have state laws on landlord access to rental properties, but it does not specify the amount of notice needed for such visits. On the other hand, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming do not have state laws on the matter. In these states, it is best to refer on the rental agreement that was signed upon by both landlord and tenant.
The landlord must enter the rental property during reasonable hours. The hours can vary by state, but 9AM to 6AM on weekdays can be considered as reasonable enough. Exceptions to this would be emergencies, or when the tenant has requested for repairs at specific hours. The landlord and tenant can agree when the landlord can accommodate the request for repairs and services.
Relevant Rental Agreement Clauses
A lease agreement is a contract between the landlord and the tenant. It is a legally binding document to which both landlord and tenant must adhere. A strong, detailed lease can help lessen disagreements and disputes between landlord and tenant. The document contains the name of the tenant and the landlord, identification and location of the rental property, terms of rental lease, amount of rent due, and the acknowledgement of both parties.
If the state you are living in has no statutes regarding landlord visits, the landlord and the tenant can agree for such matters during lease negotiations. You can both agree to add reasonable clauses in the lease agreement that should cover the following:
- Reasons for entry of the landlord in the rental property
- Amount of notice for each reason
- Agreed time of entry
- Exceptions to the agreement
What to do if a tenant does not let a landlord in?
If the landlord has followed the requirements for notice of entry, the tenant has no valid reason to refuse entry in the property. The landlord does not need the consent of the tenant to enter the rental property. A tenant can negotiate with the time if he worries that he is not in the property during the visit. If the request for reschedule is valid and reasonable, the two parties can come to an agreement. However, the landlord is not obliged to reschedule.
If the tenant refuses entry, the landlord, who has done all the necessary prerequisites prior the visit, can still enter the property to perform his tasks and obligations. Frequent refusals of tenant can give the landlord reason to sue the tenant for damages and loss, and failure to cooperate. In the most extreme of cases, the landlord can seek court order to allow access, and he can also terminate the lease agreement.
Know More about Landlord and Tenant Rights
The relationship between landlord and tenant can be a tricky one. Each must be firm and must be able to stand for their rights. However, tension with landlord and tenant is also not helpful, so it is important to still maintain an amicable and friendly relation.
It is vital for both the landlord and the tenant to know about rental laws and statutes, what are legal, and what their rights are over the property. To know more about rental property management, keep visiting Rental Academy.