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Tenant Rights vs. Landlord Access: Trespassing Concerns for Property Owners

Woman Inviting Her Landlord Inside the HouseLike any responsible landlord, you are responsible for maintenance on your property. But, if you have renters in your investment property, you must make sure you give your renters advanced notice prior to anybody accessing the property. This is because your property becomes the renter’s home once you turn over the keys. Safe to say that just because you are the owner of a rental property in Hot Springs doesn’t mean you can come and go as you please and interrupt the lives of your residents without proper notification. Even if you only want to change a furnace filter, any unannounced entry could result in your resident levying charges of criminal trespassing.

Definitions of “reasonable notice” vary with state law, so brush up on the legality of your entry as a landlord. Outline the terms for notice to be given before entry in the lease so you don’t violate your renter’s privacy. For example, twenty-four hours is the commonly followed rule as the typical notice requirement for someone who isn’t the tenant or their guests to come in the property, whether the resident is home or not. Other locations further restrict entry to times of the day and days of the week, so check whether you know and follow the laws in your area in this regard. It may seem like a small observance, but bearing in mind the alternative, it’s well worth the wait.

Exceptions to this may consist of emergency repairs or safety issues, such as faulty wiring that poses a fire hazard, burst pipes leaking into another unit, or broken windows and doors that could affect a comfortable temperature or entice criminal activity. As a landlord, it is essential that you keep the residence “habitable,” so your legal obligation may trump the obligation to notify residents of entry. In fact, failure to conduct emergency repairs within the time frame stated by your state law could constitute neglect.

You and your tenants must also keep your property up to the local building or housing codes. If a lack of maintenance or a renter’s extended absence is affecting heat or ventilation, or broken fixtures are preventing the adequate provision of water or electricity, then as the landlord, you could face penalties for violating standards of living. If your tenants are not upholding the sanitation and structure of your property, seek legal counsel as to whether you have a reasonable right to enter the premises to do necessary fixes.

One more exception to criminal trespassing is implied permission. This would entail whether your renter requested repairs or maintenance, which would then mean that they anticipated and gave authority to your entry of the premises. Unless it is explicitly stated in the lease that notice should be provided for all repairs, you may be covered from a liability standpoint. Keep documentation of all maintenance requests to avoid the risk of a lawsuit.

Ultimately, you must respect your renter’s possessory rights. It may be your house, but it’s their home. Your property ownership does not give you the authorization to drop by without notice. You must submit proper notification of future entry. Illegal entry can result in fines up to several hundred dollars, or even jail time, depending on your state.

Real Property Management Hometown not only provides for proper notice and communication with the tenants for routine maintenance, repairs, and property evaluations, we also keep you in the know regarding all facets of your rental property. For more information on how we can make your life easier, contact us or call us at 501-701-4702.

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