Landlord Basics: Entering Occupied Apartments

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(This post is part of our “Landlord Basics” series, which seeks to help the new landlord / investor understand some of the basics of tenant relations and property management.  Click here to view the entire Landlord Basics archive.)

Entering an occupied apartment can be a challenge for a landlord.  Many tenants will not have an issue with the landlord entering their property as long as they are notified.  However, uncooperative tenants insisting that you can’t come in, even to do maintenance, can be a real headache.  And the tenants do have their rights. Generally, as long as the tenant is quietly enjoying their apartment as defined in their lease, you must provide notice before entering their unit.

If a tenant calls in a maintenance item, be sure to clarify a few facts with them to make the process run smoother.

  1. Will anyone be home to meet the maintenance personnel?
  2. Is it alright for the maintenance personnel to enter the apartment while you are not home?
  3. Ask if there are any animals that you need to be concerned with.

How much notice is necessary? In most states, a landlord must give 24 hours notice before entering a unit, except in the case of an emergency.  This should be defined in your lease with the tenant, to make sure that the tenant understands.  The amount of time necessary differs from state to state, as well as the method in which you must notify.  In some areas, a simple phone notification is ample.  In other areas, you must post a notice on the door.  Speak to your lawyer regarding the requirements for entering a unit so that you don’t wind up in hot water!

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