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Landlord Entry Laws

As long as a tenant has an active lease agreement, a landlord isn't allowed to enter the rental unit whenever they feel like it.

Every state has its own laws governing a landlord’s right to enter a tenant’s unit, but there are also some general rules that apply most places. Landlords can only enter a unit if the tenant has expressly agreed to it, if they have a court order, or if the tenant abandoned the rental unit. Generally, landlords must get a tenant's approval to inspect the apartment, make a necessary repair, or show the unit to prospective new tenant.

Landlords are required to notify a tenant before entering

Depending on the reason for entry, a landlord is legally required to give the tenant advance notice. In some states, like Washington, the law demands that a landlord request entry in writing, including the estimated dates and times that they will need access to the unit. Violating entry notice laws could be construed as a violation of a tenant's right to quiet enjoyment.

Generally, the amount of notice required will depend on the reason for entry:

  • Emergency entry often requires no notice
  • Scheduling a showing for a prospective tenant requires 24 hours
  • Routine maintenance or pest control requires 72 hours

If a landlord ever enters a unit without notice when the tenant isn't home, then they are required to leave a written note in a conspicuous place stating that they were there, when, and why.

Landlords can sue if a tenant won't allow them in

If a tenant refuses to allow their landlord inside the unit at all, a landlord can sue them to potentially gain access. According to the Uniform Residential Landlord Tenant Act, if the tenant withheld consent unreasonably, they might be forced to cover damages or one month of rent. Landlords may also be able to terminate the tenant's lease within 14 days.

Tenants can also sue if the landlord is harassing them

If a tenant feels like a landlord is taking advantage of their entry rights to harass them, then the tenant can sue them for damages or one month of rent. A tenant also has the right to get a court injunction to stop the landlord from entering; in some states, they may even have the ability to terminate the lease with 30 days' notice.

If a tenant believes their landlord is entering their unit illegally, they may have the right to leave without notice using constructive eviction laws.

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice.