Landlords: Don't Enter a Tenant's Unit Without Notice - Law and Daily Life
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Landlords: Don't Enter a Tenant's Unit Without Notice

Many landlords wish to go into their tenants' units unannounced, but entering without notice can have real legal consequences.

While entering a tenant's unit without notice may be permissible in cases of emergency or abandonment, it's still a good idea to provide some form of notice.

So listen up landlords. Here's what you need to know about giving notice, and what can happen if you don't give proper notice before entering a tenant's unit:

How to Give Notice

A good reason why no landlord should enter an apartment without giving reasonable notice is that giving notice is incredibly easy.

Every state has different requirements or presumptions when it comes to "reasonable notice," but a good form of notice will:

  • Include date and approximate time of entry;
  • State purpose of entry (maintenance, inspection, etc.);
  • Be personally delivered, mailed, or affixed to the front door; and
  • Be provided at least 24 hours before the proposed entry.

For apartment complexes, it may be sufficient to post a written notice of entry on the common entry for the building, but it also may be wise to slide a copy under the door of each unit. The law doesn't require a landlord to ensure that every tenant reads this notice of entry, just providing the opportunity to be aware of it.

Many states have carved out exceptions to this notice requirement in cases of emergency or abandonment. If a landlord suspects a property has been abandoned, it won't hurt to provide notice anyway.

What Can Happen If a Landlord Enters Without Notice

Entering a tenant's unit without notice or consent can lead to major legal consequences. For example:

  • The tenant can call the police. If your tenant returns to find you rummaging through his or her unit, he or she can call the cops on you for trespassing. Even though you may ultimately have the right to enter, it may not be easy to explain that to the cops.
  • The tenant can potentially sue you for invasion of privacy or harassment. Part of the reasoning for the notice of entry is to protect a tenant's right to privacy. By entering unannounced, you may be physically intruding into a tenant's private space.
  • The tenant can potentially sue for breach of lease. All lease contracts have either an explicit or implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. This includes the tenant's right to exclude unwanted guests from the unit, and an unnoticed entry may violate that right.

If you're concerned about how or when to provide notice to your tenants, contact an experienced landlord-tenant lawyer today.

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