Real Estate

The Right to Privacy

Tenants expect that their privacy will be honored. Landlords respect this, but they also expect that there are times that they should be able to enter and inspect the property they own.A tenant's right to privacy isn't always black-and-white. The rules can change from state to state. In some jurisdictions, they're far from clear. Although tenants have a "reasonable" right to privacy, this term can mean different things to different people.

Your Landlord Must Make an Appointment

Almost always, your landlord must notify you in advance of any visit. State laws vary, but the notice period is usually one or two days. You have the right to arrange a time that's convenient for you. Some states require that you be notified in writing.

Your landlord can't knock once on the door and then barge in. Most states require waiting a reasonable amount of time for you to respond to the knock or the bell. Some states require knocking even if it appears that you're not home. These rules usually don't apply to a yard or any community areas.

Emergencies Are Different

In a genuine emergency, your landlord can enter your home without knocking or advance warning. The emergency must be that the property is in danger of significant damage if your landlord can't immediately get inside, such as from fire or flood.

Your Rights May Change if You Break Your Lease Terms

State laws differ, but some states allow a landlord to enter a rented dwelling if there's reason to believe you've broken your lease or its terms. For example, your landlord might state that it appeared you'd moved out because the curtains were down, even if you just had them down for cleaning.

The owner can usually enter when you do something you're not supposed to do, such as take in a roommate if your lease specifically states that only one person can occupy the dwelling. The landlord can enter to make sure only one person is living there.

Your Landlord Has Some Rights to Enter

Just as you have a reasonable right to privacy, your landlord has a reasonable right to enter the property after giving you notice. You can get in trouble if you repeatedly refuse to let your landlord in.

If the current owner wants to sell the property, you must make it available to prospective buyers. The appointments should be at your convenience. The same rule applies if you plan to move out and your landlord wants to show your dwelling to prospective renters.

A Real Estate Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding a residential tenant's right to privacy is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a real estate lawyer.

Have a real estate question?
Get answers from local attorneys.
It's free and easy.
Ask a Lawyer

Get Professional Help

Find a Landlord And Tenant lawyer
Practice Area:
Zip Code:
How It Works
  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Connect with local attorneys

Talk to a Real Estate attorney.

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you