Renters occupy about a third of the houses in the United States. Although a tenant reserves the right to privacy and enjoyment of their rented home, the landlord can inspect their property at any time.
A properly drafted lease or rental agreement should clearly state those provisions.
A landlord can show your home as many times as they want, but with fair notice and following some reasonable frequency.
Laws regarding this vary broadly from state to state.
If you’re a renter and your lease expires soon, you might be having chills already. Fortunately, that’s where this guide comes in handy.
This article is intended to be a white-hat guide, so you know what to expect. Read on to discover everything you need to know about notices of entry.
What Is a Valid Notice of Entry?
Various state statutes specify a landlord cannot pay you a surprise visit and unlock your door at will.
Furthermore, they are prohibited from showing your apartment so frequently that it becomes a nuisance and interferes with your everyday life.
A notice of entry by your landlord should further outline the reason for access. What’s more, it should often be expressed in writing unless otherwise noted by you.
In certain states, the landlord is obliged to seek the tenant’s approval and provide notices electronically. Therefore, it’s essential to confirm whether the notice should be via SMS or email.
If you provided a written notice of lease termination, your landlord might notify you about any planned viewings. However, they are not obliged to notify you formally on entries and could appear anytime, particularly during business hours.
In some states, the allowed hours for entries and showings can be anytime between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Regardless, these hours are not cast in stone and can be adjusted accordingly.
There is a special case where your landlord decides to sell the house and wants to show potential buyers. As such, they must issue a 24-hour notice in writing.
A third option is to have a real estate agent or broker enter the residence on the landlord’s behalf. This follows written permission to the agent and due notice to the tenant.
Provisions Regarding a Landlord Showing Your Home
Notice in advance allows a landlord to enter the rental and show it to prospective renters or buyers. Even then, this is only permitted within reasonable grounds.
It’s prudent the landlord accompanies potential renters during the showings. However, this can still take a toll on your comfort.
With regular showings, you could get to a point where you don’t feel at home because the landlord is not bound by restrictions on how often they can schedule showings.
Likewise, the tenant cannot bar the landlord in any way during the showing.
A landlord should be able to enter your unit to take photographs for real estate listings at any time. But this has to be clearly outlined in the tenancy agreement.
Even in the case of pictures, they still need to issue written notice 24 hours in advance.
Because tenants reserve the right to privacy, their items do not need to be featured in the pictures. A tenant also isn’t expected to tidy up their place to “magazine-page” perfection.
Although normal cleanliness levels do no harm, some landlords might have more rigorous viewpoints. So, just in case, you should ensure the place is a little bit tidier than usual if they will be coming.
A landlord who wants to show your home to prospective new tenants might also request additional showings. And they have the green light, depending on the terms of your lease agreement.
In such a case, the notice could be oral. However, you might be asked to permit an open house during the weekend.
As long as the landlord complies with time provisions or written restrictions in the notice, showings are never limited. Thus, it’s not uncommon to have this as a source of discord that could scale to lawsuits.
Most attorneys assert you can file a case if the showings turn out overwhelming. For example, repeated viewings during odd hours are generally unacceptable.
If you’re having strangers opening your fridge and things like that, your landlord is not being reasonable. And if you genuinely think someone is infringing on your rights, you need to document these incidents.
But even before then, it’s reasonable to present the paperwork you signed with your landlord and speak together before calling an attorney.
A meaningful dialogue becomes instrumental and goes a long way. Don’t shy away from telling your landlord that regular showings are becoming stressful.
It’s OK to ask for a break. Nobody should cut your reasonable enjoyment of the unit you’re occupying. As such, it’s prudent you formally channel your complaints to relevant state authorities.
Each state has laws regarding landlord and tenant agreements. Therefore, you need expert services to make sure you’re also not on the wrong side of the law.
Notably, most rental laws cut back and forth among landlords and tenants. The authorities typically tend to be mediators between the two parties.
Within the laws lie provisions for enforcement of orders, compensation, and expected conduct of landlords and tenants. For example, no tenant should be forced to leave for a showing.
If the landlord does not provide a formal notice within business hours, a tenant can deny entry. Landlords cannot use their right of access to harass the tenant or abuse it in any form.
When Else Can a Landlord Enter and Show Your Apartment?
The following three scenarios explain additional instances that could justify the frequency of your apartment showings:
In Case of Making Repairs and Improvements
Most state laws permit the landlord to enter their property when maintenance duties are required.
In this case, you can also expect contractors and repair personnel in your home.
A landlord proves to be conscientious when they request a petition in a bid to make repairs. As such, there’s nothing wrong with scheduling walk-throughs once or twice a year.
In Case of Justifiable Emergency
Suppose there’s a serious emergency such as a fire, pest infestation, a gas leak, or broken windows during storms.
The landlord might show up any time.
When You Supposedly Abandoned Your Apartment
Think about a situation where a neighbor reports seeing a moving van drive away and your utilities are shut off for an extended period.
If a landlord thinks you skipped out without returning the key or giving them fair notice, their entry is legal.
Certain states allow for a landlord to enter your apartment when you leave for an extended duration. As such, they are free to make any necessary or preventive maintenance.
It would be best if you don’t put up with a lockbox in front of your house at any time. Anyone who knows the combination code can access your home, according to real estate agents.
Furthermore, they can do so at any time without notice, bypassing state statutes on tenant privacy.
Apartment Showings and Safety
Caution is key if you are moving voluntarily or your landlord decides to sell during these tricky pandemic times. It’s not entirely safe to have strangers wandering through your home on different occasions.
Video showings are preferred. The landlord could even have you conduct them if you can, with their input.
With modern technology, you, the landlord, and a prospective tenant can decide to have a video call session in case of a vacancy.
You can then show the suite and take any questions appropriately.
The Bottom Line
For most renters, dealing with apartment viewings can be utterly stressful. The house belongs to the landlord. You only rent it, and must therefore use it according to contract terms.
The tenant enjoys certain protections from various forms of harassment and discrimination. While landlord-tenant laws vary largely by state, both parties need to adhere to them appropriately.
The landlord is obliged to maintain their property and not disturb the tenant’s peace. Likewise, the tenant should respect the property, not act as a barrier to reasonable access.
A landlord can conduct an apartment showing within no specific frequency as long as it’s reasonable. Furthermore, the landlord must issue a notice and can only show the property during business hours.
The tenant can sue a landlord who abuses their right of access. This should only occur if the landlord is reluctant to heed the tenant’s reasonable demands.
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