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Requirements for Landlord Entry

Every tenant has a right to privacy, but that right must be balanced against the landlord’s right to maintain their property.  Sometimes, a landlord must enter a tenant’s apartment to deal with emergencies, make repairs, or show the apartment to another potential tenant.  While tenants cannot unreasonably deny access to a landlord, landlords must also follow all of the state and local rules regarding access to tenants’ apartments.  Roughly half of states have rules governing landlord entry into tenants’ apartments.  The specific rules change from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, but here are the usual requirements for landlord entry.

Reasons for Entry

Landlords can’t just enter a tenant’s apartment for any reason.  States usually only allow landlords to come into tenants’ apartments under specific circumstances such as:

  1. During an emergency;
  2. To make repairs or assess the need for repairs;
  3. To inspect the premises for damage;
  4. To show the premises to insurance or mortgage companies;
  5. To investigate potential rent violations;
  6. To show the apartment to prospective tenants; or
  7. If the tenant invites the landlord in or asks them to enter the apartment.

 

Leases will sometimes contain additional justifications for entry, so be sure to check the terms of your lease for any other possible reasons for entry.

Notice

Landlords must usually give tenants reasonable notice before they enter an apartment.  The exact amount of notice can vary between locations, but it is typically 24 hours. 

In addition, landlords can usually only enter apartments during normal business hours.  Again, the exact definition of “normal business hours” can vary, but it will usually be between the hours of 9am and 5pm, Monday through Friday.

These rules don’t apply in emergency situations, however.  During emergencies, landlords can enter an apartment without notice to the tenants.  Typical emergencies can include a fire or a severe water leak.

Landlords can also enter an apartment without notice if they reasonably believe that the apartment has been abandoned.

Denying a Landlord Entry

Tenants cannot unreasonably deny a landlord entry into their apartment.  A tenant can request to have an entry moved to a different date, for example, but the tenant cannot prevent the landlord entering the apartment as long as all of the applicable requirements for entry are met. 

Recourse for Landlord Trespass

If you feel that your landlord has entered your apartment in violation of any of the rules stated above, it can sometimes be a difficult situation to address.  The first step is to discuss the problem with your landlord in a calm fashion.  That alone could be enough to stop the violations. 

If the entries continue, send your landlord a formal letter via certified mail requesting an end to the entries.  If that doesn’t work, you might have to bring a claim for trespass or harassment in small claims court. 

It is important to keep a log of all the instances where the landlord entered the apartment without following the rules for landlord entry.  Collect physical evidence, such as photographs or video recordings, where possible.  Also keep track of how these inappropriate entries affected you – this will help you establish damages later.

Next Steps
Contact a qualified real estate attorney to help you
navigate any landlord-tenant issues.
(e.g., Chicago, IL or 60611)

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