It would be lovely if a landlord’s job were limited to simply finding a tenant and collecting rent. However, the landlord’s responsibilities don’t stop there. There will come a time – probably multiple times – when you will need to enter your occupied property for maintenance, repairs, emergencies, or showing to prospective tenants. As the property owner, you may also feel inclined to make frequent visits to maintain your investment property. Even with the best intentions, your visits to the rental property are also an intrusion on your tenant’s privacy. Understanding your rights as a landlord and your tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment is critical in maintaining a healthy landlord-tenant relationship.
A Landlord’s Right to Access Property
Just because you own the rental property doesn’t grant you unlimited access. Signing the lease or rental agreement gives the tenant exclusive use of the dwelling. Under this agreement, the tenant can enjoy the rental as their own home, peacefully and without interruption. The rental agreement between you and the tenant should clearly outline when and why you need to enter the home. Even though there are clear state statutes regarding when a landlord can enter an occupied unit, you should still make sure to include these laws in the rental agreement so that both you and your tenant have clear expectations.
Establishing a foundation of clear communication with your tenants is a critical step in being a successful landlord. When issuing an advance notice for entering the rental property, specify why you need to enter and the day and time you plan to enter. Be aware of what the law declares as reasonable hours, usually between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and stay within those boundaries. Keeping up consistent and thoughtful communication with your tenants will also reduce the potential for conflict. Ideally, this will foster a working relationship where your tenant trusts you to maintain their home, and you can trust them to treat your property with respect.
Common Reasons to Access a Tenant Occupied Property
State law declares a landlord must give 24-hour verbal or written notice before entering an occupied rental. This doesn’t mean a landlord can come by for any reason though. In addition to terms outlined in the rental agreement, specific circumstances ensure a landlord has the legal right to gain entry to their property.
Showing the Property
A homeowner may legally show an occupied property to prospective buyers or tenants. If selling, you must first notify the tenant of your intent to sell. Following the intent to sell notification, the landlord must give at least 24-hour notice when showing the home. Be considerate of how this intrusion will feel to your tenant and schedule showings during weekdays and within reasonable hours.
Repairs and Maintenance
If a tenant requests repair on the property, the landlord has seven days from the date of the request to begin the repairs. As long as the work starts within those seven days, the landlord can enter without notice. Perform the work within business hours or at a time agreed upon with the tenant.
Many landlords perform routine property inspections. The frequency of these visits should be included in the rental agreement to create clear expectations with your tenant. Typically, one or two inspections per year are sufficient. These inspections are for the landlord to check up on the property and provide routine upkeep and benefit the tenant by allowing them to express maintenance concerns.
In Response to an Emergency
You may enter a tenant’s home without notice in the event of an emergency as long as you notify the tenant within 24 hours. An emergency is any event where serious damage would occur without immediate attention, like burst water pipes or a fire.
You can enter your property legally if you believe the tenant has moved away or abandoned the property. Of course, you must have reasonable evidence before taking action. If the tenant has not responded to your communication attempts, the utilities have been shut off, or if the neighbor saw a moving van are all suitable reasons for suspecting abandonment. Also, try checking with the post office to see if your tenant has filed a change of address notice.
What if the Tenant Refuses Entry?
Even though you have followed the rules and are entirely within your rights to request access to the rental property, there may be occasions when a tenant denies entry within the 24-hour timeline. Perhaps they simply need time to clean the house before you bring in potential buyers. In this case, you may choose to work with the tenant to find a more suitable time.
If a tenant refuses entry despite rental agreements and state laws, the landlord is allowed entry without force to perform specific tasks as long as there has been a written or verbal notice 24 hours before the time of entry. If this is a continuing problem, you have the right to terminate the rental agreement, evict the tenant, or sue for damages and loss caused by failure to cooperate.
A Little Help Goes a Long Way
Your property is important to you, and of course, you want to keep a close eye on it. But, you probably already have a lot of other needs that require your attention as well. At Rent Portland Homes by Darla Andrew, we provide a variety of resources so you can focus on the things you care about the most. As a full-service property management company, we can handle anything from lease signings to maintenance services and lease enforcement. And, when it comes to providing a framework for communicating with your tenants, we have you covered.
We pride ourselves on taking the stress out of renting your property and genuinely love the connections we make with renters. If you’d like to learn more about our services, you can call or text Darla at (503) 852-2705. Or, you can fill out the contact form on our webpage.