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When can the landlord come in?

Posted by Rona Fischman August 9, 2012 02:00 PM

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Where is the line between taking care of the property and leaving the tenants alone to enjoy the property? One of the sore-points for tenants is that some landlords are not respectful of the tenant’s right to “quiet enjoyment” of their space. Landlords come in too frequently, do not give notice, and do not cooperate to enter at convenient times.
On the other side of the argument, landlords complain about tenants damaging the property or locking them out.

Your lease is the guiding document for what a landlord or tenant can or cannot do. This written agreement is the fall-back position for any dispute. Most people use a lease that was written by an attorney. Unless the lease was written by a hack or is outdated, it will conform to current law. I took a look at the lease that I use: There is a clause that allows the landlord to enter the apartment to inspect, make repairs, and show to other tenants, buyers, appraisers and such. It allows the landlord to enter to inspect and to charge tenants if they neglect the property and cause a need for repairs. There is also a clause holding the landlord responsible for keeping the locks in good order. Also, it specifically requires the tenants not to change the locks and to always provide that the landlord can get into every room.

That’s the rules, according to the lease. Read your lease! I am always surprised by how few of my tenants every have read the lease. I suspect that some landlords use boilerplate and don’t read them, either.

The happy relationship between landlord and tenant comes from respectful enactment of the rules in the lease.

Tenants need to know the expectations of the landlord. Does the landlord want to be informed about non-emergency problems? These are judgment calls and discussing it together at the outset can help things go well. Otherwise, tenants may not mention the running toilet for fear of inviting an unannounced intrusion and a rent increase next lease cycle.

A landlord may need to do repairs from time to time. Making appointments that do not interfere with the tenants is the right thing to do, whenever possible. Obviously, if a pipe breaks, a plumber will need to be there almost immediately. But what about that leaky toilet? Landlords and tenants need to communicate about what times work for both to have someone in to do a repair or a showing.

Have you ever had a “how the property works” conversation with a landlord? If so, did both landlord and tenant live up to the agreements?

This blog is not written or edited by Boston.com or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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Scott Van Voorhis is a freelance writer who specializes in real estate and business issues.

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