There are certain limits regarding entry to a rental unit. After all, tenants have the right to privacy and the ‘quiet enjoyment’ of their home. Here is an overview of everything landlords need to know about entering their rental units:
Under what situations may a landlord enter the rental property?
There are certain situations in which a landlord can legally enter the rental unit. Let’s take a look at some of them below:
#1 During emergencies
During emergencies, landlords have the right to enter an occupied rental property without obtaining the tenant’s permission. They can enter the property whether or not the tenant is home and use their personal key to gain access.
Generally, any situation that puts people and property at risk is considered emergencies. Some examples include floods, fire, gas leaks, and natural disasters that pose an imminent threat to the occupants. If you’ve hired a property management company that offers hurricane preparedness services, they will be able to conduct post-storm clean-up on your behalf.
#2 When permission is granted
Conducting regular inspections and completing repairs are essential in protecting any investment property. The law recognizes that landlords must be able to enter the rental unit under these circumstances, provided that permission is granted by the tenant. The landlord should provide their tenant with a written notice within a reasonable time before entering the property.
The reasonable time varies from state to state, but 24 hours is generally considered acceptable. This means that if a landlord intends to enter the rental unit on Tuesday, he or she must send the tenant a written notice on Monday. The notice should indicate the reasons for entering the property and the exact time frame that the landlord, property managers, or maintenance workers will be present.
#3 When a tenant has abandoned the property
If there is reasonable cause and sufficient evidence to believe that the tenant has abandoned the property, the landlord may legally enter the rental unit. Under the following circumstances, the landlord may come to the conclusion that the tenant has up and left the property:
- The utilities (electricity, water, gas, etc.) have been shut off by the utility company.
- Witnesses have seen the tenant packing their belongings, moving furniture, and doing other activities that may suggest that they are relocating.
- The tenant has changed his or her address with the post office.
- Neighbors have heard the tenant speaking about moving out.
- The tenant has not responded to the landlord’s efforts to contact him or her.
#4 When a tenant has been absent for an extended period
Tenants may be absent from the property for an extended period. As long as they are not breaching the terms of their lease agreement (e.g. continuing to pay rent), this is perfectly acceptable. Each state sets its own rules regarding the length of time that can be considered an ‘extended absence’, but generally, it’s beyond seven days.
In the event of a tenant’s absence, landlords may be allowed to enter the property to perform maintenance. It’s important to note that landlords are still required to give proper notice.
#5 When the landlord needs to show the unit
Landlords have the right to show the rental property to prospective tenants who will be occupying the unit once the current tenant moves out. On the other hand, tenants must accommodate their landlord’s efforts to re-rent the unit if they do not plan on renewing their lease.
Again, the landlord must give sufficient notice to his or her tenants. This provides them the opportunity to work out their schedules as they may not want to be home during the showing.
Each state sets different rules regarding this type of entry, so make sure to consult a property management company to be certain that you are staying compliant.
#6 During move-in and move-out inspections
Landlords need to conduct both move-in and move-out inspections to determine if the tenant should be responsible for damages. During the move-out inspection, landlords and property managers will refer to the findings from the move-in inspection, and compare the condition of the property before and after the tenancy.
Even though move-out inspections are expected, the landlord must still provide the tenant with written notice as to the date and time of the walk-through.
When can a landlord enter the rental unit?
Most states require landlords to provide their tenants advance notice at least 24 hours before entering the property. However, if your state requires landlords to provide ‘reasonable notice’, then you may be able to notify your tenant ten or fifteen hours before entering the rental unit.
It’s important to note that ‘reasonable notice’ differs by state. For instance, Florida requires landlords to provide a 12-hour notice, while California requires a 24-hour notice. To be certain that you aren’t violating any laws, be sure to consult your property manager.
Additionally, most states do not specify the exact hours that a landlord may enter the rental property. Generally, ‘reasonable times’ are considered to be any period from 9 A.M. to 6 P.M. on weekdays and from 10 A.M. to 1 P.M. on weekends.
Again, the best practice would be to coordinate with the tenant. In most cases, they will suggest the most convenient time for them.
As a landlord, you are responsible for the upkeep of your investment property. Regardless of how meticulously you screened your tenants, there’s always a possibility that they will not keep the rental unit in pristine condition throughout their lease. That’s where you have to come in (literally) and perform the necessary repairs, inspections, and maintenance.
However, just because you own the property, does not mean that you can walk into the unit without obtaining permission from your tenants. By following the advice above, you can remain compliant with the law and protect your investment at the same time.
At Luxury Property Care, our property managers are committed to staying on top of repairs and upkeep. We will handle the time-consuming task of sending out notices, conducting inspections, and more so that you don’t have to.