If you are a new landlord, I, Mark Roemer, will help you avoid making a mistake when entering your dwelling after new renters have inhabited it. Below, you will find all the information you need to access your apartment complex or home legally.
Between a landlord’s right of entrance, their tenants’ privacy, and the “implied covenant of peaceful enjoyment,” there is a delicate balance to be struck. The rights occasionally clash. It’s critical that both parties are aware of their rights as well as those of the other. As a landlord or property manager, you may occasionally need to go inside your tenant’s house. When these situations occur, you should enter lawfully by submitting a letter referred to as a “notice to enter.”
What is a notice to enter letter?
This is a formal, written notice informing your renter that the landlord or property management will require entry to the rental unit at a specific time and date, the cause for the access, and the point of contact information.
A unit may occasionally need to be accessible to a third party. In the notice to enter letter, provide the plumber’s name and expected arrival time if, for instance, repairs are required (noted in the letter).
It’s also a good idea to provide information about notice to enter your lease agreement, so potential tenants are aware of terms like “written notice” up front. Will a letter be sent by email? Will it be written by hand?
The notice to enter letter serves as a courtesy and respect for your rights as the landlord and the tenant’s right to privacy.
Why would a notification be required to enter?
Time is likely of the essence if there is an emergency, such as smoke coming from below a tenant’s door, a flood, or water leaking through a roof. In these cases, you can access a tenant’s unit without the notice to enter letter.
The notice-to-enter letter is necessary for a number of non-emergency circumstances where you must enter a tenant’s residence. These circumstances include pest treatment, displaying the property to potential new tenants or buyers, property or appliance repairs and improvements, and unit inspections (which should take place when a tenant comes in and out and sometimes twice a year during a renter’s lease).
When must notice of entry be delivered?
You can often only access a tenant’s home between “regular business hours,” which are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, unless there is an emergency. You must also provide a tenant with “reasonable notice.” This usually requires 24 hours’ notice, but verify your state’s legislation.
Each has specific requirements for the kind of notice a landlord must provide. Additionally, there are guidelines on when, why, and how to give the notice to enter. Massachusetts, for instance, does not have a notice-of-entry legislation. Landlords are required to provide notice of entry in New York for routine maintenance, repairs, and showings to potential renters. Hawaiian landlords are required to offer a minimum of 48 hours warning before entering. In Montana, a notice to enter may be delivered in person, by hand delivery, by mail with a certificate of mailing or by certified mail, or by posting on the unit’s main entry door (if an email address is specified in the lease or rental agreement).
What happens if my tenant is gone for a long time?
In the event of an emergency when your tenant is away, you may enter without permission. However, if there isn’t a crisis and you need to carry out routine maintenance or look for damage if an apartment above has a water problem, you might need to give your tenant notice.
Check your state’s legislation to find out what a “long absence” (a week or more) is and whether you can lawfully enter the unit at all if there isn’t an emergency.
What happens if my tenant won’t let me in?
It’s conceivable that the specified date or time is invalid. Cooperate with your renter; if it’s not an emergency, make every effort to plan a visit that works for everyone.
However, you can take legal action by suing the tenant for damages or loss if their refusal appears unreasonable or actually makes it difficult for you to accomplish your work. Never, under any circumstances, enter a tenant’s home by force.
What if I forget to submit a notice of entry?
A tenant’s rights are being violated if you enter their unit without their permission, even if there isn’t an emergency. Most likely, your tenant will ask you to vacate. However, if you don’t or if you keep showing up without warning, they might sue you in small claims court. They could make claims of invasion of privacy, trespass, or unreasonable interference.
Everyone avoids going to court. Especially when a simple notice to enter letter can be written as a straightforward remedy.
How can I keep track of what I do?
You should always keep records of everything you do when managing your property. Take notes during meetings and mark a calendar with your whereabouts on the site to keep thorough records. You must justify the urgency of the entry if there is ever any doubt as to why you entered a tenant’s residence without a notice to enter letter. Ask the repairperson, if one was engaged, to provide written confirmation of your claim.
Keep a copy of your notice to enter letters for your records if you have written one.
Everything is a balancing act.
As a landlord, you must carefully balance the needs of keeping your renters safe and comfortable with your obligation to maintain the property’s safety and quiet enjoyment. Respect your tenants, please. Enter their property lawfully if you must. And even if your state does not mandate it, extend them the courtesy of a notice to enter letter.
Include language in your lease agreement informing potential tenants about the possibility of a landlord or property manager needing access to a unit and the amount of notice required.
Being a landlord, I, Mark Roemer, know that the ins and outs of the business can be a bit confusing. I hope you have found the details above helpful.