1. Home
  2. Safety News
  3. Is Your Landlord Trespassing? Learn Your Rights as a Renter

Is Your Landlord Trespassing? Learn Your Rights as a Renter

Written by | Updated October 2, 2014

When you sign a lease to rent a home or apartment, you’re agreeing to a number of conditions. Most of the terms found in a lease are designed to protect the landlord, but what about your rights as a renter?

Luckily, there are laws in each state that protect your privacy as a renter, even if the terms aren’t specified in a written lease.

Landlords and trespassing

The landlord may own the property, but that doesn’t give him or her carte blanche to come and go in your place at will. All but 16 states have specific statutes and regulations regarding when a landlord can enter the premises, for what purpose, and how much notice he or she must give you.

In all states, a landlord can enter the property without notice or permission if there is an emergency. For example, if a burst pipe in your apartment is leaking into the unit downstairs, your landlord may enter or send someone from the maintenance crew to enter your home if you’re not there.

Even if your landlord gives you notice, he or she must have a good reason to enter the property. In most cases, your landlord can only enter your home:

  • In an emergency
  • To make repairs
  • To show the property to prospective tenants if you’re ending your lease
  • To inspect for safety issues or to ensure the property meets building safety codes

Your lease and privacy

Most leases will have an entry provision that details when the landlord can enter the property. However, just because something is stated in the lease doesn’t mean it’s legally binding. Even though a lease is a legal document, the conditions stated in it still have to follow the law. For example, a lease for a home in Arizona may say the landlord can enter the property at any time without notice. Because Arizona law requires the landlord give two days’ notice, this portion of the lease would not be legal or enforceable.

If your lease doesn’t have an entry provision or mention anything about when the landlord can enter, your state’s privacy laws still apply. If you think your rights have been violated, a court will refer to your implied right to quiet enjoyment. Even if it is not in your lease or rental agreement, a court will still recognize this right, which includes the right to peace and quiet, basic services, and reasonable privacy.

Part of this covenant protects your privacy as outlined in your state’s laws. For example, in California, the law states that a landlord must provide written notice before entering your property. If he doesn’t, he is in violation of your lease, oral or written.

What if you don’t have a lease?

If you don’t have a written lease, that doesn’t mean your rights go out the window. In many cases, paying a security deposit and paying rent on a timely basis each month is enough to prove that you have an oral agreement.  This type of agreement holds as much weight in a courtroom as a written agreement.

It’s always smart to make sure you get a signed contract when entering into any rental agreement. The contract should spell out the exact terms of the lease, including landlord’s right to entry. Before signing any lease, make sure the entry provisions are in accordance with state laws.

If you’ve already signed a lease and it doesn’t mention privacy laws, look up the laws in your state and request a revised lease agreement from your landlord. This will help protect your rights to privacy and clarify any issues that may arise.

Written by Katherine Torres

Katherine has had several years of experience developing and executing multichannel marketing campaigns, but actually started her career path in journalism. Though she switched gears, she continues to be driven by the need to deliver information that can be helpful for individuals. As an owner of two rescue dogs, she is most interested in technology and products that allow her to keep a close eye on her pets when she’s away. Learn more

Share this article.
  • Concerned Tax Payer

    Most Law Enforcement Officers are ignorant when it comes to Landlord/Tenant Laws. Instead of actually researching the law, its easier for them to just dismiss it as a civil matter. We have a Landlord who has trespassed on people’s leased lots (with no emergency situations and no prior notice given to the tenant) and when the tenant yells at him to get off their lot, he refuses to leave until after the police are called. The police arrive and do nothing, claiming that he has the right to be on HIS own property, which he does not. He gave up that right when the tenant leased property. We’ve had an on going issue in our manufactured housing park whereas the Landlord has been intentionally plowing ALL the snow in the roadway into the driveways of me and my neighbor just to harass us. Employees travel at a high rate of speed, in the opposite lane, down a hill and blind curve while plowing. We are very concerned he is going to hurt someone, but when it was reported to the local police, they claim its private property and there is nothing they can do. It is not a gated community, anyone can drive/walk in to the Park. I have to wonder why the police refuse to warn him about this behavior. Can you imagine if your loved one gets struck by a snowplow that is in the opposite side of the road and is seriously injured, and you discovered that a complaint about this was made to the police and they failed to get involved because its “private property” and this could have been avoided?? Hopefully, we will not have to find out! How hard is it to notify the Landlord that they received a complaint about this behavior and tell him to stop, especially when there is a community safety concern?

    • Short & Sweet

      Video tape it all.

    • (J²)

      Unfortunately, it is a civil matter. Police are able to enforce but it’s not their responsibility to weigh in on disputes. Of course, if a criminal offense is committed, that is different.

  • (J²)

    But he’s right. Landlords will do a lot of things because typically, people aren’t willing to pay to take them to court. The laws favor the tenant but the legal process itself, favors the landlord.

  • Tony

    Hey Hillary Johnston? Remember me from a year ago? I pointed out your article was IRRESPONSIBLE AND FALSE.
    Even when non property owners whip out every dollar in savings to actually go to court, it’s all a big game to the counties, and it’s a game where property owners win. I submitted like 80 pages of evidence of wrongdoing, the county just through the case out becuase it was obvious the police handled it poorly and they didn’t wan’t to acknowledge that. This same landlord is now facing multiple felony charges for fraud and stealing tennants’ belonging, throwing them out on the street with nothing, and running a fake non-profit. But did I get any kind of judgement? HELL NO. The system is rigged for property owners. Do some real reporting hack.

    2018 CC 003337 NC
    You can find that in Sarasota Clerk Net, our county site for judicial matters. You will see your beliefs are garbage, and poor people have no rights AT ALL.

    • Behr Palomo

      The law is on the side of those with money, Tony. I had my landlord open my garage, go in and take pictures of my private contents. She showed me the pictures in person but did not send me anything online and there is no record other than a private conversation we had. I have no recourse and she can enter any time she likes with no notification or repercussions. It’s total garbage but this is the world we live in.

  • Erica Benton

    Hello hi I have some concerns on this discussion I’m wondering if anybody could answer this I’m having a big problem with the people of whom I’m renting from I been living here for almost 9 years now and pretty much from day one it’s been a problem I’m living here with my mom and my daughter it’s a 2 bedroom house and has no where else to go my problem to this date and time is can a maintenance man are any other authorities from that company can come by when ever they choose being the company building is up the street from me the maintenance man is here at least 7 times are more here unannounced like oh I’m here to fix this knocking on my door no 24 are 48hr notice no nothing just I’m here what about a phone call nope please tell me what can I do soooooooo stressed out

    • Rebecca Edwards

      Erica, I’m so sorry you’re having to deal with this. The first thing I would do is read through your lease to see what it outlines as far as the landlord or maintenance entering your apartment. It should specify what type of notice is required. In my past as a renter, leases always specified at least a 24 hour notice unless it was an emergency. No one should be entering your home without your knowledge.

      Most states have laws that outline the specific requirements for landlords to give notice of inspections or maintenance. Here is a link to a list of state laws for landlords and tenants. https://www.landlordology.com/state-laws/

      If your state has a law requiring notice, let your landlord know that you know the law and ask them to follow it. If they continue to enter the property without giving you any notice, the next step would be to make a complaint to the appropriate agency in your state. Here is a link to a directory of agencies in each state. https://www.hud.gov/topics/rental_assistance/tenantrights

      You may also want to seek some legal advice. Here is a link to legal aid resources. https://www.lsc.gov/what-legal-aid/find-legal-aid

      If your housing is in any way subsidized by the government you can also make a complaint to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development: https://www.hud.gov/complaints_home

      I hope this helps!

    • KissyKatt –

      They are supposed to give you a 48 hour notice. My landlord told me that the Monthly letter she gives out every month saying they will be in and out of units is a 48 hour notice. Though she hands them out almost every month so really she and her maintenance crew can just walk in anytime they want. They never leave a note and never give a 2 day notice. Things of mine have been missing and i just say “i guess they got it” because i know if i call the police on them or bring it up they will just violate me over something like sidewalk chalk or a sink full of dishes and ill be homeless.

  • Darla Houston

    My landlord has an inspection due some time during next month. My apartment has been inspected twice this week without notice and flunked for a non working smoke detector the first time and out of the blue they come today and tell me that if I don’t let them in, they’ll fail me again. I’m terribly sick and standing there with no pants on. Can I tell them this when I call them?

  • Andrea Herrin

    I’m renting a home and the landlord wants to repair the water house with a crew on my rental property. I’m not comfortable with that and I asked the landlord if she could do that once I move out in a month and she said no. If they come on my property is that trespassing?

    • Rebecca Edwards

      Andrea, the rights the landlord has to enter your property to do work should be outlined in your lease. There may also be some state or local laws that govern this type of activity. Most of the time, if the landlord gives you notice about entering, they can do so—especially to get work done. But if you’re very concerned about it, especially during the pandemic, you may want to reach out to a legal adviser for help. Best of luck!

      • neoone

        “Andrea, the rights the landlord has to enter your property”

        I think this was a typo, its not YOUR property. Its the landlords.

  • neoone

    I think people need to read up on the law and GET EDUCATED in general. This is definitely case by case, but If a landlord is showing up to your doorstep unannounced, that should be some cause for alarm. They cant just waltz in. Many people don’t know their own property rights. Many landlords are from other countries and cultures where its common for a landlord to just practically sleep on your couch, and eat your food. We don’t do that here. Many people from here aren’t educated, and they show it when they try and impose themselves on their tenants lives. This is the same mentality from people who threaten to call the cops when a store kicks them out for attempting to shoplift. Its a PRIVATE business, cops cannot enforce to “let you shop there” IDIOTS

    If people are going to buy an investment property, I think its the realtors responsibility to educate the incoming landlord on rights, do’s and dont’s. Last thing you want is some weirdo pervert, or just some person who doesn’t understand that they cant just do whatever they want with someone else’s life. Just because they are the landlord.

    However, in the end, the courts will most likely side with the landlord, because it IS their property. If you have a weirdo, or harassing issue, tell them, get an attorney, or find somewhere else to live.

    I don’t have stats to back up, but I can make the approximation that the majority of the time it is the tenants who are destroying the property, not paying, disrespecting the neighborhood, or subdivision, Condo unit, HOA, AND taking extreme liberties with property that IS NOT theirs. Like deciding to all of a sudden paint the outside of the house on a Saturday while having a party, or breaking down a wall. Like really? Who the EFF are you? I’m born and raised in SF, and this kind of stuff happens all the time. THAT’S! why landlords get upset with tenants, because ITS NOT YOUR PROPERTY. Go to school, get a better job, pay your debts, get great credit, have assets, qualify for a loan buy your property AND THEN maybe you’ll understand