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8 Legal Reasons a Landlord Can Enter an Apartment

As a newbie landlord, you want to build a good relationship with your tenants. But you also want to make sure of the proper condition of the apartment during their tenancy.

So you want to know, when can you exercise your right of ownership and when can your entry become invasive? Read on.

State Laws vs. Lease Agreement

The American common law gives tenants the right to quiet enjoyment without interference. But the law also gives landlords the right to enter their leased property provided they give tenants a written notice.

State laws vary on notice for landlord entry for non-emergency situations ranging from 24 to 48 hours, or advance notice. Other states like Arkansas, Louisiana, and Massachusetts do not enforce notices. But, landlords cannot abuse their right to enter the leased property.

The lease agreement should also specify when the tenant can expect landlord entry. Should the lease agreement contradict the law, the state law is upheld.

Legal Reasons for Landlord Entry

Due notice is necessary for non-emergency situations such as follows where a landlord would want to enter the apartment:

1. To Inspect the Unit

Landlords must conduct routine inspections during move-in and move-out. An inspection ensures the safety of the tenants and other health concerns.

It is also good practice for landlords to conduct annual, twice a year, or quarterly inspections stipulated in the lease. Drive-by inspections are not allowed.

Landlords also have the right to inspect for violations of the lease. Tenant violations may include bringing in pets, moving in someone permanently, smoking, or doing drugs. Violations can result in a warning and if unresolved, eviction.

2. To Make Repairs, Improvements, Alterations, Pest Control, or Maintenance Services

For same-day turnovers, landlords may need to make repairs or improvements like a painting. You may also consider installing appliances or air conditioning units to the unit.

3. To Show the Property to Prospects

In most states, the landlord should give the tenant a 30-day written notice before showing the unit to prospective tenants or buyers. The written notice should be followed by a 24-hour verbal notice for prospect visitation during business hours.

Such is the case for tenants whose contracts are ending and won't be renewing the lease.

The landlord cannot show an occupied tenant to prospective tenants under the lease term unless the tenant is occupying in his last month. Even then, due notice should be given.

4. During a Tenant's Extended Absence/Abandonment

State laws vary when it comes to the extended absence of a tenant. Some states allow landlords to conduct maintenance services and inspections while the tenant is away for 7 days or more. Other states don't allow landlord entry while the tenant is away unless for emergencies.

5. Tenant Violation of Health and Safety Codes

Landlords can be penalized for putting their tenants at risk of health and safety issues. As such, landlords can make a written request to the tenant to remedy the violation by repair, replacement, or cleaning.

If the tenant fails to respond to the landlord's request, the landlord can enter the unit and remedy the violation. 

6. Under Court Orders

Under the law, the landlord should be given entry to the leased apartment after providing due notice for legal business reasons. If the tenant denies entry, the landlord may obtain injunction relief from the court to enter.

Reasons for Landlord Entry | No Notice Needed

1. Emergency

In the event of fire, possible fires (smoke coming out from the unit), a gas leak, flooding, bursting pipes, or a natural disaster, the landlord can enter the unit without notice. But the landlord cannot falsify an emergency to force entry without notice.

2. Upon Request of Tenant

If the tenant requests for maintenance or repairs, the landlord can enter even when the tenant is not home. But the landlord can only conduct services during normal business hours. While not required, it is best to talk with the tenant beforehand and agree on a time you can enter their unit in their absence.

Wrap Up

There are legal reasons to enter the property and limitations. The landlord has ample time to conduct repairs, pest control, and inspections. But landlords should not barge in unannounced beyond normal business hours.

Keep in mind to give due notice as specified by your state law and make your visit as infrequent as you can. Finally, make sure you have a clear and legal reason to enter the property to avoid getting sued for trespassing or harassment.

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