Is It Legal To Enter While My Tenant Is Away?

In the perfect world, landlords secure permission to enter the property on lease at any time they need and would notify the tenants in advance. The world we live in is far from perfect. Some situations arise, and tenants need help contacting or allowing landlords to get in. Managing and protecting your property with the tenant’s privacy rights is tricky but far from impossible.

When is it Legal to Enter Without Permission?

What can I do if my landlord enters without permission? The leading step in determining when a landlord can enter the leased property minus a tenant’s consent is to check the lease. Strong agreements specify circumstances that permit the landlord to enter the leased property, including the notice period needed and if the landlord requires the tenant’s consent. This is vital in states like Texas and New York, which do not have particular statutes governing the entry of landlords into the leased property. Landlords in states without specific statutes must beware that local laws governing landlords and unauthorized entry will apply. 

Outside the lease terms, the circumstances which permit the landlord to enter the property without permission can vary from one state to the next and city to city within the state. 

Landlords planning to enter lead properties without permission will have to notify tenants. States are different in the time needed between the notice and entry. Many states need 24 hours, while others, like Florida, need 12 hours. However, there are those like Kentucky that need two days’ notice. To maintain good relations and minimize liability with the tenant, you must notify the tenant by multiple methods, including text, email, and phone calls. 

After getting an entry notice, the landlord may enter the property without the permission of the tenant in the following situations;

Damage Inspection Or Routine Maintenance

A landlord can protect his property and ensure compliance by inspecting it regularly, making repairs, and performing routine maintenance. In many instances, landlords know about damages and the need for repairs from the tenants. Please encourage your tenants to report these issues immediately. In some states, the tenant’s request for repair might provide permission to get into the property, although it is best to have a separate specific entry notice for when there are scheduled repairs. 

Showing the property

If the tenant is soon vacating, the landlord does not need permission to bring prospective buyers or tenants to provide notice. Some states permit the landlord to show the house after the tenant gives a vacation notice. In such a situation, scheduling showings with the tenants’ corporation is good to ensure that the property is looking its best. 

Circumstances for entry without permission

What can I do if my landlord enters without permission? The landlord can enter your property without permission or notice if; –

  • Emergencies and urgent repairs

In each state, landlords may enter their leased property to stop ongoing damage or repair it regardless of consent or notice. Landlords may enter without permission to rescue a person or prevent injury. If there are burst pipes and the house floods, there will be no need to wait for approval before getting in to fix the issue, even though announcing your entry and knocking loudly is advisable. For instance, you can pull your tenant’s dog into a burning house before asking for permission.  

Common sense should guide you in determining the existence of an emergency or if the problem can wait. If the tenant challenges the entry, the court will look at the evidence of the emergency. Screams in the property, a strong smell of gas, and a smoke alarm going off are sufficient to justify entry without permission after knocking on the door without response. Political signs in the windows usually violate the lease agreement, although it is not an emergency that can justify entry without permission. 

  • Extended absences

What can I do if my landlord enters without permission? Some states allow landlords to enter leased properties without permission to check for damages and do maintenance if you are away from the house for a long time. 

The length of tenant absence varies among the states; therefore, you need to ask an attorney about your state’s requirements. Extended absence gives landlords more flexibility than waiting for an emergency to perform preventive maintenance like shutting off the water before a stiff breeze or replacing the HVAC filters. 

If you live in states that do not openly give landlords entry rights without permission in the tenant’s extended absence, you might include this provision in the tenancy agreement. This provision has to specify the time constituting absence and the repairs the landlord should perform while you are away. The lease might also instruct you to notify the landlord of extended absence and give contact info. 

  • Abandonment by tenant

The landlord can enter without permission while they reasonably suspect that he has abandoned the property. Unannounced long absences from the property plus missed rent payments are indicators that the tenant has abandoned the property. Some states have laws stating that you will be deemed to have left the property if you are absent for thirty days. 

The other evidence that the tenant is out of the property includes failure to respond to landlord communication, disconnection of utilities, and reports of neighbors seeing a moving van leaving the property. Once there is reasonable suspicion of abandoned property, the landlord must gather more evidence and repossess the property. 

Final thoughts

When you suspect the tenant is away, you must start by asking questions and collecting evidence to verify the issue. Be sure to take statements when neighbors report a case. Under the underlying circumstances, you must continue documenting the problem and take videos and photos if possible. 

Document all efforts to reach the tenant. It would help if you used all communication available at your disposal. If the issue is significant, act, but if it is minor, you can wait until you reach the tenant. Do not enter the premises alone. Witnesses are good because they can testify that the entry was necessary to solve an underlying issue. They can also defend you against the destruction of property.