White French front door surrounded by flowers

Does your State’s Law allow a Landlord to enter a dwelling at will, or must he get permission from the Renter or give notice?  Most landlords, I would hope, realize that in most cases notice must be given prior to entering an occupied rental unit. Of course there are exceptions to this rule and in some cases giving notice isn’t enough. Under good circumstances a landlord or representative (property manager) would arrange with the tenant a date and time to access the premises. In this case no formal notice is required and the landlord comes over at the agreed upon time. 

In Oregon we are bound by ORS 90.322 that states a landlord or their property manager may enter into the tenants dwelling under the tenants exclusive control for the purposes of; inspections, necessary or agreed upon repairs, improvements, services,  maintenance. In addition, access should be granted in order to show the property to potential buyers if selling the home, prospective tenants if the current tenants are moving, or to contractors. However, this is limited and is not always as simple as it should be.

  1. In the event of an emergency, a landlord may enter without consent or notice to the tenant. An emergency generally falls under the category of something that will cause serious damage if not remedied immediately. Even in this case a landlord is required to give the tenant notice after the fact to inform them why, who, and when the property was entered.
  2. If a repair or maintenance request is submitted the landlord can enter for the sole purpose of making the requested repairs. The tenants written request may specify allowable times. Otherwise, the entry must be at a reasonable time.  In general, normal business hours are considered reasonable but if the tenant works nights special accommodations may need to be made.
  3. An agreement should be made in writing and signed by the landlord and tenant in the case of selling the property or for access needed for routine yard maintenance. It’s best to specify days and times that the home may be scheduled for showings or yard work. Because of the additional disruption when an owner tries to sell a home a landlord may consider reducing the monthly rent payment or provide some incentive for the tenant to stay.

If there is not an emergency and there is not an agreement in place the landlord must give the tenant at least 24 hours  notice. At this point the process gets a little more regimented. I always give notice in writing so I have documentation. This documentation can come in the form of a notice left on the door, an email, or by mail. A tenant may legally deny access by posting a written notice of the denial. At this point the landlord may have to file a lawsuit and obtain a court order for access. Or, the landlord can terminate the lease by issuing a termination notice for cause, the “cause” being denied access to the premises.

Every state’s laws are a little different and this is not meant to be interpreted as legal advice even for Oregon residents, but more of a reminder about the possible complications and proper steps that may have to be taken to legally enter your rental property.