Many states have laws that govern the circumstances under which a landlord can enter a property that she has rented to someone else. While these laws protect a tenant's right to privacy, they also permit a landlord to take necessary measures to inspect and protect her property.
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While most landlords respect their tenant's privacy, some do not. For this reason, many states have established laws that restrict a landlord's ability to enter a tenant's home. These laws often include restrictions on the reasons for entering a rental unit, require that the landlord provide advance notice of her plans to the tenant and may even limit the hours during which a landlord can request admittance to the property.
The landlord's right to enter his rental property can be a source of conflict with tenants. A landlord may believe that because he owns a property, he has a right to enter it as he pleases. A tenant, on the other hand, may either believe that she has no obligation to permit the landlord to enter the property or may think that she has no choice but to tolerate a landlord's invasion of her privacy. However, both common law and statutory law recognise a tenant's right to "quiet enjoyment" of her home, free of intrusion by other parties, including a landlord. At the same time, the law also recognises a landlord's right and obligation to care for his property, and this includes the right to make inspections and repairs.
Many states and municipalities have laws that define a landlord's "right of entry" into a rental unit. These laws vary in scope and content, but typically define the reasons for a landlord to enter a rental home. These reasons include property inspections, making repairs, showing the unit to a prospective renter or buyer and ensuring the safety and well-being of her tenants. State laws usually also include a provision for landlord entry without advance notice due to an emergency, such as a flood.
The law often requires a landlord to give a tenant advance notice of her plans to enter the rental unit. In some cases, state law merely says that the landlord must give "reasonable" notice, while other states prescribe amount of notice, which is often 24 to 48 hours. In some states, a landlord must arrange to enter a tenant's property only during times convenient to the tenant. In some states, refusal on the part of a tenant to cooperate with a landlord in setting a good time for an inspection or entry to make repairs is grounds for eviction.
Landlords and tenants can usually reduce friction on the topic of landlord visits by keeping channels of communication open: If a tenant, or landlord, has an unusual work schedule that makes arranging inspections and repair visits difficult, this should be communicated at the time that a lease is signed. As a courtesy, landlords should notify tenants as far in advance as possible of any inspections and should offer tenants options for scheduling. Tenants can minimise privacy issues by notifying landlords of when they plan to be out of town, so that a landlord can take advantage of that time to make inspections and repairs.
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