The laws of most states give landlords the right to enter their rental property under specified circumstances, provided they meet certain legal notice requirements. Landlords typically include a clause on landlord’s right to access and tenant privacy in their lease or rental agreement.
Landlords may enter a rental unit in order to:
State laws (often called access or tenant privacy laws) usually require landlords to provide a certain amount of notice (typically, 24 to 48 hours) before entering; some state laws simply requires “reasonable” notice (generally presumed to be 24 hours, but this depends on the circumstances). See your state laws on notice required to enter rental property for details. State tenant privacy laws do not usually specify the exact hours that a landlord may enter, but allow the landlord to enter rental property at “reasonable” hours.
If a tenant restricts landlord's access for an allowable reason (such as to make repairs), after the landlord has provided reasonable notice, the landlord may have grounds to terminate the tenancy for violation of the lease or rental agreement.
Learn more about Landlord Access and Tenant Privacy.
Landlords can always enter a rental unit without giving tenants notice in order to respond to an emergency, such as a fire. The landlord can also enter without notice if the tenant agrees to less notice, or invites the landlord to enter the apartment or rental unit.
There are a variety of other situations when a landlord may violate a tenant’s privacy rights. Examples include the landlord doing the following:
Learn about Your Rights as a Tenant.
A tenant who feels that the landlord has invaded his or her privacy, should ask the landlord to stop illegal entry and follow up this request in writing. (If the property manager is the problem, the tenant should be sure to contact the landlord or property owner.) The tenant’s letter should explain why there is an invasion of privacy and what the tenant plans to do if the behavior does not stop. If the landlord repeatedly invades the tenant’s privacy by entering without providing appropriate notice or without an allowable reason, such as those specified above, a tenant may have two options:
Depending on the situation, the tenant may sue the landlord for invasion of privacy, illegal trespass, interference with the tenant’s right to undisturbed use of the rental property, and/or infliction of emotional distress. If sexual harassment is involved, the tenant may have a discrimination claim. A tenant who wants to sue a landlord on one or more of these grounds should consult an experienced tenant’s lawyer for advice.
This falls under the category of “constructive eviction,” which means that by violating the law (in this case, by invading the tenant’s privacy), the landlord has (for all practical purposes) evicted the tenant.
Learn ways to Handle Landlord and Tenant Disputes.