Can I enter a tenant's apartment without notice?

12 Replies

Hello BP community!

I recently purchased a MFR and have a leak in the roof. The easiest access to the flat roof is from one of my tenant's windows. However, the tenant has been in the hospital since before I bought the property. When I call him, the calls go directly to his voicemail, and his inbox is too full to leave a message. In this case, do I have the right to enter the property without permission so that the roofer can easily access the roof? I could ask the roofer to bring a long ladder (it's a 3-story building), but he can easily just step out onto the flat roof from a window. I inherited a lease that is 12 years old and has no language about the landlord entering the apartment. Not sure if this is a legal question for an attorney or a "common sense" question to do what I think is best. I'd appreciate any thoughts other property owners have on this...thanks!

Nancy,

Take a look at your States statutes as to what constitutes an emergency and entering into a tenants unit. You obviously have given attempt to notify them, so would imagine that you have find everything possible for this emergency entrance. 

You don't need tenants permission to enter YOUR unit. You only need to provide proper notice, according to your local laws. Usually, this means 24 hour notice. In addition, if there is an emergency, (I defer to fire, flood, and blood as my definition of emergency) you do not need to provide notice.

In your shoes, post notice on the door and take a photo with your phone (timestamp proof) and also leave a message on their voicemail, indicating your intent to enter to do roof work at XX time on XX day. You are then welcome to show up and open the doors for your roofer.

Thank you, @Kim Meredith Hampton and @Andrew B. !  You both gave me the great idea to check the local laws, and in RI, we need to provide 2 days notice.  The note on the door is a great idea so will do that, since it's not a true "emergency" and it covers me if there is a complaint filed against me about it.  Thank you both!

@Nancy DeSocio you need to provide 48 hours notice unless it is deemed an emergency. Post it on the door regardless of the hospital stay. Time stamp the photo, make entry. Back it up with a text message of the entry notification image just to reaffirm. At that point, you’ve done your due diligence.

you said “easiest,” not “only.”  I agree with all said above, but if it’s not the only way to gain access, use alternate means.  I don’t know how tall your roof is, but if you can shimmy up a ladder....

I really do think you’d be covered with the advice above, but the ultimate way to be legally safe is just not go in at all and use the ladder if that’s practical.

You've attempted to notify them, which is all the law requires. Make a note of your attempts, post written notice on the door, and then go in the following day.

You are never required to give notice if it's a true emergency like water pouring out the front door or a fire.

If it were me, I’d also leave a letter on their kitchen counter explaining you needed access to the roof etc etc. Left a note on the door on this date and came in with the roofer on this date and this date. Makes it clear why you were there and followed the right process when they get home and fine things are moved, etc.

Thanks, everyone for the replies.  After all was said and done,  I went to post the notice on the tenant's door and found aother window that was tucked away in the hallway that allowed for access to the roof.  I appreciate everyone's input!

Originally posted by @Nancy DeSocio :

Thanks, everyone for the replies.  After all was said and done,  I went to post the notice on the tenant's door and found aother window that was tucked away in the hallway that allowed for access to the roof.  I appreciate everyone's input!

 your biggest takeaway here should be that you don't know your local laws as well as you should. notice of entry is one of the more basic issues that all landlords should have memorized. since you did not know that, I fear there may be much more you don't know. The time to learn your local laws is before you need to know them, not after.