If you rent your living space, sure, you don’t technically own it—but you do pay for it, and it’s your private sanctuary. However, your landlord may want to (or need to) enter your private domicile for some reason, at some point. While you do have a legal right to privacy, there are some instances in which you won’t be able to stop the unit’s owner from entering.
When the landlord can come in
Be advised that the regulations and laws around when a landlord can enter your home vary from locality to locality, so check your own local rules to be sure—here is a state-by-state list of laws. Largely, though, the landlord can enter the place when their reason has something to do with maintenance or safety.
According to real estate expert Erin Eberlin, these are broadly the reasons a landlord can enter your place:
- Maintenance of the property
- Sale or rental of the property
- Health or safety concerns
- They have a court order
Sometimes, like when your radiator breaks or there’s a leak, you’ll set up the visit yourself—and be grateful for it. Other times, like when the landlord wants to do an inspection, you will not be in control of when they show up. But they do still have to give you advanced notice of their arrival in most cases. In many states, landlords are required to give reasonable notice of their impending arrival, though the amount of time differs from state to state. Typically, they have to let you know 24 or 48 hours in advance and should do so in writing. Be advised, too, that in some states, like Arkansas and Georgia, they don’t have to give you any notice at all.
In Florida, landlords have to let you know 12 hours in advance of their arrival for repairs, but the law is also clear that they can enter “when necessary” in an emergency. Emergencies are also important to keep in mind: There’s a difference between coming to replace a broken appliance with reasonable notice and busting in because there’s a potential gas leaks, fire, or flooding.
When a landlord can’t enter your place
In most states, landlords can’t just come in without giving you some kind of advanced notice, as outlined above. There are also a few stipulations around what times of day they can come in. Again, the exact hours vary state by state, but largely, they can’t come in during unreasonable hours; this means they can generally enter between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, unless you give specific permission for a different time. (This also excludes emergencies.)
In addition to the local laws, you’ll want to look over your lease to understand exactly what rights your landlord has and is willing to exercise. One thing they can’t do, however, is harass you. They can’t pop in out of nowhere or use their pre-announced visits to bother or intimidate you.