Many landlords believe they should have access to their rented property whenever they want; after all, the house belongs to them.
On the other hand, tenants see it as an obstruction to their right to privacy. After all, they pay their rents, which should afford them some privacy.
Both parties seem to be right, but the reality is: landlords should not come into a rented apartment, garden, or any part of the property without permission.
There are, however, occasions that would warrant a landlord to gain access into any part of the rented property even if he doesn’t get their tenant’s permission. This is usually in times of emergency or when the tenant has failed to keep some parts of their tenancy agreement.
The Tenant’s Need For Privacy
One of the greatest sources of tension between landlords and their tenants is the different stance each takes regarding the landlord gaining access to a rental unit and the tenant’s need for privacy.
Some landlords have certain behaviours that can be quite invasive, and one of them is their endless intrusion into the premises that their tenants occupy. This invasive behavior of these landlords can be in the form of :
1. Inspection of the property that happens too frequently
2. Unscheduled visits, especially at odd times.
3. Entering the unit without the tenant’s permission.
4. Entering the premises without proper notice in writing or notices that do not specify the date and time for the visit
5. Sending other people like service technicians unaccompanied to the house.
6. Harassing the tenant can be in the form of cutting off necessary services.
7. Not sticking to the stipulated reason for entering the premises as indicated in the Notice Of Entry.
Landlords And Trespassing Laws
In most parts of the world, it is estimated that about 36%, if not more, lived in a rented building; this excludes those buildings that are rented out for business or commercial purposes.
The issue of landlords gaining access to their property which they gave up to a tenant for rent, is a debate that has been raging for a while.
This is because people’s homes are a vital and intimate part of their persons, and they do not want people barging in on them at any time, even if they are the owners.
Therefore, both parties must understand their rights and privileges and stick to them so that no one gets penalized.
Most countries have laws stipulating when, how, and why landlords can enter their rented property. Notice of Entry is the notification a landlord gives a tenant informing them of his intentions to enter the apartment or home.
Note Of Entry
A note of entry, also known as a notice to enter, which a landlord uses to inform a tenant of the fact that he will be entering his home shortly, usually contain this information:
1. The contact information of the landlord
2. The time and date the landlord wishes to enter the premises or house.
3. The address of the house or premises he wishes to visit.
4. The reasons why he wants to access the premises.
5. How long does he estimate the visit to last, and how long will the landlord remain in the house or premises.
For starters, it is recommended that a landlord must give his tenant at least a 24-hour notice seeking permission to enter the house. This notice can be sent electronically through email, text messages, or any other means that the tenant has access to.
Some states in the US stipulate that the landlord must receive the specific approval of the tenant before gaining access to the property. It is also expected that the landlord should only visit at reasonable hours.
This hour may differ slightly from place to place, but by and large, the normal business hours of 8 a.m to 6 p.m; seem to be the acceptable time, except the tenant and landlord reach an agreement to come at a time other than these times.
However, a few states or countries do not have this kind of law; they have other laws that guide how landlords can gain access to their tenant-occupied property. For instance, in the US, only 13 states do not have statutes limiting entry, and these states include:
- New York
- North Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Why Landlord May Have Legal Right To Enter A Tenant’s Yard
There are quite a number of specific examples of times where a landlord may have the legal right to enter a tenant’s apartment. Even for these legitimate reasons, the landlord must still seek the tenant’s permission. They include:
1. The Landlord Wants to Perform Repairs
It is the responsibility of the landlord to keep a property he is renting out in good condition as stipulated by the landlord-tenant law. These could be repairs that the tenant requested specifically for or those other routine repairs and maintenance that comes at regular intervals
2. Move-Out Inspection
This is also known as a walk-through inspection. It is an inspection of the rented property by a landlord before the tenant moves out of the unit.
In fact, in some states, the law requires a landlord to perform this move-out inspection to check for damages or any illegalities in the property before the tenant moves out. The landlord must provide prior notice for this inspection, even if he lives in the same building as the tenant.
3. For Decorations, alterations, or Improvements
A landlord has the right to put in alterations, decorations, or other aesthetic changes in his rented property. For this purpose, he has the right to enter the property and make the changes, but he must ensure that he gets permission to gain access from the tenants first.
Improvements like installing a solar panel, solar tube lights, central air conditioning, which usually benefits the tenant and add value to the property, can be done by the landlord
4. To provide certain services
A landlord in seeking to provide some of the services that he is duty-bound to render might need to gain access to the rented house to be able to do so, these services which could be the provision of access to heat, natural gas for cooking, pest control kits, hot and cold water. A landlord can ask for permission to enter his rented property for these legitimate reasons.
5. To Deliver Large Packages:
A landlord can deliver a package meant for the tenant, especially if the package cannot fit into the mailbox. A landlord has the right to seek permission to enter the rented property to deliver such packages
6. To Show the Apartment:
There are times when a tenant is due to vacate a house. The landlord will want to show the house to prospective tenants or buyers, appraisers, handymen, contractors, and mortgagees; for this purpose, a landlord will wish to access a tenanted property.
7. If the tenant has abandoned the premises:
If a tenant abandons a property without officially moving out, the landlord can enter the property. However, we must state that what constitutes “abandon the premises” by the tenant has different laws regarding when a place can be officially termed “abandoned”.
8. The court ordered the landlord to enter:
There are instances when a court can permit the landlord to enter his rented property, especially if the tenant refused to give the landlord permission to gain access to the property previously.
9. When the tenant has violated health or safety codes:
The landlord has the right to enter the rented property if the tenant is involved in activities that are inimical to the health and safety of the people around. He can enter the house to take care of the problem.
10. To Issue Eviction or Ejection Notice:
This is a very legitimate reason why a landlord might seek access to their tenant’s yard or house, but to do this, he should enter with a law enforcement personnel to make it legal.
Can A Tenant Refuse To Grant The Landlord Access?
The tenant can refuse not to grant access to the landlord even if the landlord has tendered the notice of entry, this may be because the time for the visit is not convenient for the tenant, or that they may not be around during the entry, or maybe the tenant has a serious concern about the visit.
In that case, the landlord will have to take further steps. Usually, the landlord can resort to negotiation, seeking a more convenient time for the visit and possibly trying to convey in strong terms why the visit is a necessity.
The landlord can even further tell the tenant the cost implication that the tenant will bear if permission is not given to access the house.
For instance, the landlord can hold the tenant responsible for bearing the cost of repairs that would have been averted if the tenant had given permission earlier for the landlord to access the building and do the needful.
Taking Legal Action To Obtain Permission To Enter A Rental Property
If the landlord has done everything required by law to gain access to their rental property and the tenant refuses to give permission, the next thing to do is take legal action against the tenant.
This is not necessarily to get a court order to evict the tenant, but just one that gives a landlord permission to access the rented accommodation. Given this kind of situation, it is best to seek the help of a lawyer who will guide you on the right course of action.
Conditions Under Which A Landlord Does Not Need Permission To Enter His Tenant’s Yard or Home
Conditions exist for which a landlord can arbitrarily enter his rented property without recourse to the occupant; this is usually when there is an emergency.
A landlord has the right to enter the yard or house of their tenant if some accidents or situations can compromise the health and safety of the occupants, even if the tenant gives their permission or not, or even if the tenant is present or not.
Emergency Situations like a fire outbreak, flooding of the property, a gas leak, structural damage in the building that must be taken care of immediately, potentially criminal or violent activities taking place in the building, or other such precarious situations means a landlord can access the property without getting consent from the tenant.
Can a Tenant Change the Door Locks To Stop Landlord’s Frequent Entry
It all depends on the tenancy agreement that the tenant reached with the landlord; in some places, tenants do not have the right to change the door locks in the house unless permission is sought and granted by the landlord.
The tenant is still obligated to give the landlord a set of keys for opening the new locks within a stipulated time (the number of days differs from place to place).
Some other tenancy agreement allows the tenant to change the lock of the house immediately after entry and not even give a copy of the key to the landlord.
This forestalls the situation in which the former tenants who still have a copy of the key to the house gain access into the house for nefarious purposes.
A Landlord is an actual owner of landed property, but when they lease or rent it out, they have transferred their right to go in out of the property as they wish; hence they have to seek permission to enter the premises from the tenant who gained this right to allow or disallow the landlord from entering the building under the rent that was paid. Only in an emergency can a landlord enter his rental property without seeking permission from the tenant.
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We trust this article helped you understand if a Landlord come into your yard without permission. You may also want to check out What To Do If There Is Fire On My Apartment Floor.
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Can a Landlord Come into Your Yard Without Permission