Explanation of Landlord Invasion of Privacy

Do you have a rental home or an apartment complex that you own and rent out to tenants? If you do, then you may be aware of specific limitations that are placed on you as a landlord in regards to tenant privacy. What you may not be aware of, however, is that you may actually be creating an invasion of privacy that may cause you to become liable for financial damages! In many states, landlords must give at least 24 hour’s notice in writing in order to enter a unit, unless an emergency situation is present. In many areas this notice is 48 hours if the unit isn't being sold or shown.

In what other ways could you be invading your tenant's privacy?

How often do you show your unit
There are some lease stipulations that require landlords to allow their tenants to enjoy their unit without undue interference. Although the language is a little ambiguous, it essentially means that you can show a unit to a prospective tenant or seller once or maybe twice a week at most without running into privacy concerns. A good rule of thumb here is to just make it worthwhile for your tenant to have the extra showings in some way, like a reduction of rent for that month, to provide evidence that they have agreed to the showing schedule.

Do you have an extra set of keys?
Just holding a set of keys to a rental unit could be a violation of your tenant's privacy. This gives you the ability to enter into the home at any time and even though you own the property, the tenants are the ones who are occupying the home and have rights to it. If you enter a unit without permission or notice, then in some communities this is just cause to charge a landlord with trespassing.

Working outside can still be considered a privacy violation.
Did you decide to have some yard work done because the property is starting to look a little bad? If you didn't put into the lease that you may be doing outdoor work, then showing up on the property to do the work can still be considered a privacy violation in some communities. Some landlords take this opportunity to peer into the windows to look at the condition of their home, which is a further invasion of privacy.

You can be held responsible even if it isn't you who violated a tenant's privacy.
Let's say you've decided to put new carpet into your unit. It's something that will benefit the tenant, so it's a good thing, right? The problem of privacy comes into play when no notice about these repairs is given to the tenant before they occur. Having professional services on your property that involve the home's structure in any way can be considered a landlord invasion of privacy because it interferes with how a tenant can use the structure.

The bottom line is this: give your tenants plenty of notice, put everything into writing, and don't keep extra keys without telling the tenants about it. That will help protect you against being accused of invading a tenant's privacy.
Posted on May 14, 2014


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