Hey, everybody. Matthew Whitaker and in this video, I am back with another question owners ask. Today’s question is, “my tenant won’t let me in the home, what should I do?”
There will come a time as a rental property owner that you will need to gain access into the home with a tenant still occupying it. Whether it be for emergency or non-emergency situations, something will inevitably come up.
It’s essential to know your rights as a landlord. Can a tenant refuse entry to a landlord? Keep reading to find out.
Before entering a tenant’s home, it’s essential to determine whether or not the reason is an emergency or non-emergency. Beyond that, it’s crucial to rely on the landlord’s rights of access, which include:
As a landlord, the reason behind needing to enter your tenant’s home will fall into one of two categories; either an emergency or non-emergency. Can a tenant refuse entry to a landlord in either circumstance? Let’s find out.
If you’re trying to get in your house for whatever reason, the first question you must ask yourself is, “Is this an emergency?” Is there an emergency reason to get into the home, or is this a matter of you just wanting to check out the house?
If it’s an emergency, most state landlord-tenant laws will allow you to go in the house. Keywords here are if it’s an emergency. But, it needs to be a legitimate emergency. You can’t just make up an emergency like, “Oh, I thought the house was on fire,” so that you can go in whenever you want to.
The tenant does have the ability or does have the right to peaceable, quiet enjoyment, and so you need to make sure that you’re abiding by that. That right is in pretty much every state-specific landlord-tenant law.
So, if it’s an emergency, the house is on fire, or the house is flooding, the tenant has left for a week, you can go in the home. Another example will be if you’re afraid the pipes are frozen. In this situation, you can certainly go in to protect the house.
Now, if you just want to go in and check out the house and see the house and there’s no emergency, you’re going to have to abide by landlord-tenant law. Thankfully, most landlord-tenant laws allow you to see your own home as long as you serve proper notice.
So, you need to make sure in your landlord-tenant law what is proper notice, give them adequate notice. For example, in Alabama right now, the appropriate notice is 48 hours, which means you have to give them 48 hours notice before you come. It’s also important to note that you need to come out at a reasonable time to do that. You will need to put a notice on the door that says, “Hey, in 48 hours, I’m coming in.” That way, they will be well informed.
When you give them notice, you’ll also want to provide them with a specific time that you will be stopping by. That way, they can be present if they want to.
Even though tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment, you do have specific rights of access as a landlord. These rights are broken into three categories: the right to inspect, the right to perform repairs, and access to provide services.
Landlords have the right to enter their properties if an assessment is needed for repair or in the situation in which a coin-operated fuel meter must be emptied.
If you need to perform repairs on your home, you’ll need access to the property. The right to perform repairs falls under reasonable access, including other emergencies like:
This access must have been agreed upon between you and your tenant in your lease agreement to provide services. Services might include things like regular maintenance or gardening, depending on the layout and demands of your property.
You might come across situations in which your tenants refuse your entry. The best course of action is to handle this situation as amicably as possible. Work with your tenant to negotiate a time and date that works with their schedule. If you are still having issues, make sure you note every conversation or attempt to schedule an entry.
To have a more stern approach, you can begin reminding your tenant of the possible implications of you not addressing the concerns at hand with the entry, including liability costs due to property deterioration, damage, or injury.
Take a look at a few frequently asked questions to help clarify any questions regarding entering a tenant’s home.
Most of the time, the answer is yes, but how much notice will depend on the requirements in your area. The minimum amount of notice a landlord must provide to a tenant is 24 hours, but you can offer more as you please. In emergencies, landlords are legally entitled to enter without any notice.
Tenants can refuse entry to a landlord, but this is a convenience factor most of the time. If you see that it continues to be an issue, try working with your tenant to schedule a time that works well for them.
Tenants can change locks on rented property and are often advised to do so. While they do not have to provide landlords with copies of the new keys, there are ways to stay protected as a landlord.
You can add a clause stating any details regarding changing locks and key issuance in your lease agreement. Having this clause will help protect you should any issues arise later on.
The last thing worth mentioning is when you’re in the house, you must be respectful of the tenant stuff. Be very respectful of the tenant. You want to work very closely with your tenant on things like this in the future.
Can a tenant refuse entry to a landlord? Under most circumstances, yes, but it’s essential to know your rights as a landlord should any emergencies arise.
Matthew is the CEO of Evernest. He is a student of the book Good to Great and is passionate about building the best property management company on the planet (and maybe even the universe if Elon Musk will hurry up). You can usually find Matthew at the baseball field with his son, at a dance recital with his daughter, or at his favorite restaurant with his wife, when he’s not in the office. And if you can’t find him in any of those places, it probably means he’s traveling.