Property Management: The Right to Enter Rental Property
There are property owners who are under the impression they have the right to enter their rental property without a reason at any time or without notice because they “own” the property. Savvy investors know this actually is not the case and blatantly entering a tenant’s residence can lead to costly legal situations. Every landlord does have the right to enter rental property . . . under the right circumstances. Implied in all residential rental contracts is the “covenant of quiet use and enjoyment.” This covenant means two things:
- That the landlord guarantees that the tenant can take possession of the rental unit and has the right to privacy and exclusive use and possession of that rental property, and
- The landlord will not interfere with the tenant’s privacy and right to exclusive possession.
Many tenants do not realize that a landlord does have a legal right to enter his tenant’s rental unit for specific reasons. In all states, a landlord or manager may enter rented premises while the tenant is living there without advance notice in the case of emergency, such as a fire, flood, or endangerment to the residents. Of course, a landlord may enter when a tenant gives permission.
All states have laws specifically detailing when and why landlords and/or property managers can enter a property. While many are similar, they do vary and generally provide for specific reasons. Here is an excerpt from the State of Georgia Law:
None. In absence of statute, following recommendations are made on basis of common sense and good manners.
|Entry without consent||
Yes, provided reasonable notice of time and place given or landlord reasonably believes tenant has abandoned premises.
May enter without notice provided notice impractical.
Reasonable, minimum 24 hours, more if feasible, without notice if tenant present and agrees.
|Days and times||
Normal business hours, 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., M – F, unless tenant agrees otherwise.
Emergency; necessary or agreed repairs, alterations, or redecorations; exhibit property to potential tenants, buyers, workmen, mortgagees, etc.;
Entry in the absence of a statutory procedure.
A landlord has no inherent right to enter his tenant’s dwelling unit. The essence of the lease is that it transfers the right of occupancy from the landlord to the tenant. This right of occupancy is what the tenant pays for when he pays his rent. In connection with this right is an implied or explicit covenant of quiet enjoyment of the premises, which binds the landlord to leave the tenant to hold the premises in peace for the term for which the premises are let to him.
In the absence of a statute, which most states have, permitting the landlord a right to enter under specified circumstances, the parties may contract to confer this right on the landlord as a condition of tenancy. Keep in mind, also, that there may be rules pertaining to a landlord’s right to enter the dwelling unit related to rent control, if the landlord’s property is covered by it.
For the sake of retention of one’s tenants and the avoidance of strife during tenancy, the keys to exercise of the right to entry are as follows.
- Enter as infrequently as possible.
- Always give ample notice and, if possible, allow rescheduling of the entry at least once to accommodate the tenant.
- Always enter with a clearly defined objective in mind, and notify the tenant of it unless there is a strong reason not to do so.
A tenant must recognize that the landlord has entrusted a serious portion of his net worth to him for use as his residence. Even if there are no obvious repairs, it is important for a landlord to view his property from time to time, say, twice a year, perhaps to do occasional routine maintenance that might not be obvious, or even just to ensure that there are no small problems that threaten to become large ones if not tended to early on. The covenant of quiet enjoyment is meant to protect a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the benefit of the rental agreement, not to enforce a landlord’s neglect of his property.
It may not seem fair to the property owner but keep this in perspective. When you rent to a tenant, it becomes their residence. After all, how would you feel if someone decided to drop into see home for any reason at any time? It probably would generate discomfort and perhaps animosity.
So, what is really the best way to handle seeing your investment? First, remember to treat your tenants with respect. Notify us if you want to visit your property and why. We find notifying residents with a friendly call, email, or letter generally gains their cooperation and eliminates negative feelings. Remember, even the best tenants can be nervous about a visit from the landlord and/or property manager.
In our experience, if we notify tenants properly and give them a reasonable explanation, most will not deny entry. Then if this does not take care of the problem and there is a legitimate reason or possible tenant issue, we will follow the law and enter the property correctly.
We do ask you to give us advance notice when possible so we can do our job properly. Remember, just wanting to visit your property is not a valid reason for entry - just give us time to set up a positive landlord/tenant experience.