Landlord Entry-trespassing? (Florida)

10 Replies

Hi again. 

I posted earlier this month about a tenant that was unhappy with the length of time a bathroom repair was taking and made mention of not paying the rent. 

Now, fast forward, yesterday the renovations were complete and the project manager asked if I would come sign off. I did so. 

The tenant sent a letter today accusing me of trespassing on the property for not asking permission to enter. The project manager, painter and the plumber were also still at the job site. I entered with the project manager, looked over the work and left. 

Florida law does state that pension is needed to enter without cause. The lease states that if a repair has been requested that the landlord may enter without permission. This was an ongoing repair (2 months) and I had not previously entered the residence without notifying the tenant. The tenant was home and did not say anything at the time. I nodded to her on my way out with the project manager. 

Was I wrong to assume that I could enter while the crew was there to inspect the project? Asking permission and giving 12 hours notice seems  impossible to get the work done if that were actually the case. Thankfully, I only had to inspect the final product. 

Any Florida tenant/landlord experts out there? 

Melissa~   It would seem that you should have given notice that you were going to inspect, but apparently from what NOLO says, the tenant should just write you a letter telling you to give notice the next time.  Personally, I wouldn't renew the lease - sounds like she is looking for a reason to not pay rent or get some deduction.  Since she was home, if she had a problem with you coming in to inspect the repairs, why didn't she say something to you.

Agreed. If she did not want me there she could have said something. This was an open repair ticket though. 

In the past, and definitely the future, all visits no matter how small will be scheduled and documented.

A few years ago , she felt that I was harassing her by checking on the lawn once a month (driving by). I tried to explain that checking up on the property for appropriate maintenance and harassing/stalking are very different. Per the lease, they were to cut, trim, and edge lawn. They were not edging the lawn suddenly. I came by a few times to follow up that it was being done. I didn't even stop at the house, only drove by. She considered it intrusive. I was paying her boyfriend to take care of the lawn (he is not the tenant).  The work simply needed to be monitored for a while. I really meant no harm. 

And perhaps every car driving by her house is intrusive? Go apologize for the short notice and give her a coffee shop gift card to enjoy with her boyfriend. You were excited to get the project completed and didn't mean to skip a step. Help her understand you want to be a responsible landlord and will be making quarterly fire/safety inspections inside and out to make certain that security and health items are looking in good repair and clean to protect her. Has she never lived in a rental before? Does she think you want to date her? Maybe make the visit with your significant other while her boyfriend is there. Good luck.

sounds like you have a winner there. i agree with Account Closed send her a letter apologizing for the intrusion, that now that the work was finally completed, you wanted to make sure it was done right and right away so that there would be no more disruptions for her. and give her a coffee shop card. even with a quarterly  safety and health inspection though, you would still have to give notice that you will be there. I have property 3 hrs from me, i go out maybe once a month or couple of months ( depends on what other houses are up for sale ) and i drive by and check my properties just like you did, you can do that, i believe you can even be on the grounds and in the common areas if their is one, as long as you do not enter a tenants place. ( don't quote me on that )

Thank you. I did respond right away apologizing for any inconvenience I caused her. The project manager did request that I come. If she had said no, I would still have had to go because the project manager requested that I be there. 

We are both women and she had 3 men at the house working on it with her and her daughter present. It's hard to imagine that I was a threat in some way. I do know that she was upset about the bathroom mirror. One of the decisions the manager needed me to make that day was to decide of the original (builders grade) mirror was going back up. It was. She expressed to the manager that she did not like the large mirror and instead wanted two small ones. 

She has been difficult through the repair process which started with a leaking pipe. Mold was present and mold remediation was required. She claims that the mold made her sick but did not report it right away and made it difficult for the trades to fix the issue. It was not black mold and it was safe to be in the home. I believe she is simply trying to build a case against me that I have wronged her in some way. I did offer  to let her out of the lease in lieu of having to live through a lengthy repair. She declined. 

Although written notification is required in this instance she did give you permission to enter. Entry with permission does not require written notification. The only time a case can be made that a landlord entered without permission would be if no written notice was given and the landlord entered when the tenant was not home.

In this case since the tenant was there and did not instruct you to leave you had implied permission to enter. She does not have a case.

To save yourself future problems I would terminate at the end of her lease.

@Melissa Neil

I think you are acting poorly as a landlord, and based on your story, I think your tenant has been treated poorly.

2 months is 7 weeks too long for repairs. You entering without notice is wrong. While it is your property, it is also your tenant's home. You are trying to justify intrusion with a conversation that happened years ago.

I believe, looking back, you will think this situation could have been handled better. I hope you see my observation as constructive.

Originally posted by @Jim Y. :

2 months is 7 weeks too long for repairs. You entering without notice is wrong. While it is your property, it is also your tenant's home. You are trying to justify intrusion with a conversation that happened years ago.

It's impossible to determine this without the full scope of the project which is not posted here. Some projects really do take 2 months. The owner was not trespassing for checking on an active repair, especially if the tenant was home and could have asked them to leave.

I would say this person sounds like they're just looking for problems and you'd be better off without them. I had a tenant in an industrial unit who was always causing problems. His lease stated that I may come in at any time without notice for a safety inspection, which I did on a regular basis. I always found something wrong. He always complained about how I was "violating his rights" and how he was going to talk to his lawyer. 

The look on his face when he got my eviction letter was priceless. He actually thought he could ***** and whine and cause problems and make threats, and still continue to be my tenant. LOL!

Tenants always think they are some kind of lawyer because they read something in google. Usually, they have no idea what they are talking about.

If she was present and you knocked, she permitted you to come in you have no problem.

She sounds like a problematic tenant, and I would non-renew her at my first chance, if she ever tried to pressure me with such a letter.

I would not respond to the letter.

I'd keep the names of the workers that were there to have if she does file a complaint. A complaint doesn't need to be filed right away over something like this so even if she's wrong and you can show in court she was incorrect you might still need to appear. 

Repairs are repairs and if you accommodated her with a small rent credit that would be the most I would do to make the bitter experience more sweet for her.

Honestly she complained at you driving down the block to look at the yard. I would have sent her a non-renewal that same day.

Send nothing written with an apology.

You have every right to be there with the crew.  You were part of the repair.

Create Lasting Wealth Through Real Estate

Join the millions of people achieving financial freedom through the power of real estate investing

Start here