Study your lease to determine when the landlord may enter your home. Some lease agreements give a list of reasons when the landlord can enter, and other leases do not mention landlord’s entry at all.
The most common lease lets the landlord enter your home for many reasons.
The landlord may enter your home if the lease specifically allows it. Many landlords use the form lease provided by the Texas Apartment Association (TAA). The TAA lease allows entry into your home when you are not there for any of the following things:
- responding to your request
- making repairs or replacements
- estimating repair or refurbishing costs
- performing pest control or doing preventive maintenance
- changing filters
- testing or replacing smoke detector batteries
- retrieving unreturned tools, equipment, or appliances
- preventing waste of utilities
- exercising a contractual lien
- leaving notices
- delivering, installing, reconnecting, or replacing appliances, furniture, equipment, or security devices
- removing or rekeying unauthorized security devices
- removing unauthorized window coverings
- stopping excessive noise
- removing health or safety hazards (including hazardous materials), or items prohibited under our rules
- removing perishable foodstuffs if your electricity is disconnected
- removing unauthorized animals
- cutting off electricity according to statute
- retrieving property owned or leased by former residents
- inspecting when immediate danger to person or property is reasonably suspected
- allowing persons to enter as you authorized in your rental application (if you die, are incarcerated, etc.)
- allowing entry by a law officer with a search or arrest warrant, or in hot pursuit
- showing apartment to prospective residents (after move-out or vacate notice has been given)
- showing apartment to government inspectors, fire marshals, lenders, appraisers, contractors, prospective buyers, or insurance agents
The TAA lease gives the landlord a lot of reasons to enter your home. However, if the landlord is just using one of those reasons as an excuse for entering, then the landlord is violating the lease agreement and your right to privacy.
What if the lease does not say when a landlord may enter?
If the lease agreement — either written or verbal — does not say when the landlord is able to enter the home, then there are only very specific reasons for which a landlord may enter. These reasons include:
- To make repairs requested by the tenant,
- To make routine inspections,
- To help with an emergency inside the unit, or
- To post a notice of eviction.
Can a tenant keep the landlord out if the lease says the landlord can enter?
Yes. The tenant has the right to determine who can enter, but the tenant should be reasonable in allowing the landlord’s entry. If the tenant is home and the landlord wishes to enter the property, the landlord must ask to enter peacefully and at reasonable times. If the tenant is home and does not want the landlord to come in, the tenant can lock the doors. All homes must have a keyless bolting device on all exterior doors.
However, tenants may not deny the landlord access to the home too many times. Repeatedly denying entry may violate the lease and possibly apartment inspection laws.
Is a keyless bolting device required on all exterior doors?
Yes. The landlord must provide a keyless deadbolt on all exterior doors that can only be unlocked from the inside. This will prevent improper or unwanted entries while you are home.
Does the landlord have to give advance notice before entering my home?
Generally, only if the lease requires it. While it is common for a landlord to give advance notice, notice is only required if the lease says so.
If the lease does not require advance notice and it seems like the landlord is taking advantage of this, the tenant may request in writing that the landlord only enter after giving advance notice: for example, 24 hours. The tenant may also request that the tenant be home when the landlord enters the unit.
The TAA lease does not require advance notice, but it does require the landlord to leave a note after entering if the tenant is not home at the time of entry. The note must say that the landlord entered the apartment and why they were there.
Does the landlord have to give advance notice in the case of an emergency?
No. In the case of an emergency, the landlord does not have to give advance notice. The landlord has the right and obligation to check on the safety and security of both the tenant and the property.
What if the landlord violates the tenant’s privacy rights?
If the landlord enters the home for reasons other than those stated in the lease agreement or does not give notice when required, the tenant should send a written demand to the landlord. You should tell your landlord about the lease violation and you should give the landlord a deadline to fix the problem.
If there is a more serious violation, the tenant may file suit in court and either sue for damages or ask to be released from the lease.
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