Dos and Don’ts of Entering a Rental Unit

Posted by Teresa on September 11, 2009 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs, Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

landlord entering home on tenant screening blogWhat are the guidelines when it comes to a landlord’s ability to enter a tenant’s apartment or house? It depends on your state’s laws, but in most, the landlord must provide notice prior to entering a tenant’s home.

Do check your state’s landlord/tenant laws: they can range from “no notice required” in Massachusetts, New Jersey, and several other states; to 12 hours in Florida; to 48 hours in Vermont.

Don’t worry about advance notice in cases of emergency, such as natural gas odor, smoke or fire, or a water leak.

Don’t “knock and unlock.” Allow your tenants to answer the door, even if they are expecting you.

Don’t assume they’re not at home and let yourself in.

Do offer more than the required notice if you can.

Do specify a window of time they can expect you. And try to stick to it. Call them if you’re delayed or early.

Do leave your tenant’s home in the same condition you found it. If your shoes are muddy, remove them before entering. And clean up after yourself.

Do conduct inspections and maintenance on your rental properties with the goal of maintaining your tenants’ privacy, too!

Landlord Retaliation

Posted by Teresa on March 13, 2009 under Eviction, Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Landlord Retaliation Blog Post

The law protects tenants from evictions, rent increases, and other penalties a landlord might impose out of retaliation. Most often, this occurs after a tenant files a complaint or other action against the landlord. If you decide to evict a tenant, raise the rent, or terminate a lease, you must be prepared to prove it is not in retaliation for the tenant’s actions.

What is considered retaliatory action? If your tenant files a complaint through proper channels about your lack of maintenance or a code violation, you may not raise their rent, break their lease, or evict them. You may not threaten eviction or reduce services, either.

If you do decide to evict a tenant for legitimate reasons, such as severe property damage, non-payment or continual late payment of rent, or illegal activity, you must prove that your reason is legal. The law assumes a tenant who has filed a complaint and subsequently is evicted is being treated illegally. You cannot punish a tenant for exercising their rights under the law.

The reality is that once a tenant files a legal complaint, it becomes more difficult to later evict them, even with just cause. The best practice is to prevent such complaints with regular inspection schedules, proper maintenance, and good communication. In addition, prescreening tenants and checking references will be good clues as to their rental habits and history—before you enter a legal agreement to lease your property.