When Can Your Landlord Enter Your Apartment?

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There is no place like home - unless your landlord does not respect your privacy. Your landlord or property manager can't just drop by unannounced. Landlords/Managers may generally enter the apartment at reasonable times and upon reasonable notice for only these reasons:
  • To show the apartment to prospective tenants, purchasers, lenders or their agents; 
  • To inspect the premises; 
  • To make repairs; 
  • To inspect within 30 days of the end of the tenancy to determine damages to be deducted from the security deposit; 
  • If the premises appear to be abandoned; or 
  • Pursuant to Court order

Here is an an antidote from my experience with a past landlord of mine: My former landlord thought that it was reasonable to let me know that someone would be coming by my apartment to do repairs in my bedroom "sometime soon." One month later a repair man came when I was at work, entered the apartment, woke my night-shift nurse roommate, and entered my room. I had just done laundry, and had all my underwear hanging up to dry. Not an ideal time for an unexpected repair person to enter! I was very unhappy and wished that I had set more clear expectations with my landlord regarding what "soon" meant. 

The moral of the story: be clear and upfront with your landlord. You know that he can only enter your apartment for certain reasons and he has to give you reasonable notice. Ask him to agree in writing that you will be given notice at least 24 hours in advance and how this notice will be received (phone call/text/email) and that this notice will include that time frame that he or his agent (repairman, real estate agent, etc) is coming, who is coming and how long they are expected to stay.

What does this mean for you? You should know when your landlord is coming over in advance. Reasonable notice is not well defined in the law, in fact Massachusetts law does not specify any specific amount of time required, so it is a good idea to discuss with your landlord what your expectations of notice are, and put them in writing. If you don't take this measure you might find out that your landlord interprets reasonable notice as 15 minutes or a knock on the door.

Discuss with your landlord what times you consider to be reasonable. For example, 9-5 might seem reasonable to your landlord, but if you are a night owl, 11-7 might be more reasonable to your schedule. Setting these exceptions early and in writing will save you headaches later and set the groundwork for a happy landlord-tenant relationship!

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