A tenant has a right to a peaceful and quiet home. This means that landlord must respect tenants’ privacy at all times and should not enter a leased apartment without permission. A law prohibits landlord to interfere with the right of the tenant of “quiet enjoyment”.
However, from the landlord’s perspective, he owns the apartment the tenant lives in, which reserves him a right for entry. This leads to the right to the premises of both parties. The following is the essence on the right of the tenant to privacy as balanced by the right of the landlord for entry:
For example, the Massachusetts General Law specifically Chapter 186, section 15B controls the right of entry by the landlord and upholds the tenant’s right to refuse entry. The statute states that the landlord has the right to enter the rented premises on the following reasons or conditions including:
- apartment inspection;
- to do repairs;
- to show the apartment to prospective tenant or buyer (new);
- if the court so ordered;
- if the rented apartment is deemed to appear abandoned by the tenant;
- If inspection has to be made within the final 30-days of the tenancy.
The lease contract or agreement may contain the list of reasons for the landlord to enter the apartment. If the apartment needs some repairs, typically the State Sanitary Code would require the tenants to extend access to the landlord upon reasonable notice. The action makes sense because it is the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the apartment according to the Code’s standards.
The landlord must provide the tenant a written, 24-hour advance notice for reasons of entry other than performing emergency repairs. What actually happens is that landlords and tenants having good relationship shall simply talk over the phone. Being a landlord, it is important to respect the schedule of the tenant and come up with the most convenient time to enter the apartment. The model landlord and tenant relationship is the one in which each party considers the needs of the other without the unnecessary protest.
Moreover, an acceptable landlord and tenant relationship is the one in which both party agree according to common sense and rational reasoning and not according to legal formalities. Therefore, if the landlord insists on entering the apartment during a time that is objectionable, it may yield unnecessary trouble.
In similar manner, if the tenant refuses to let the landlord enter the apartment at any time, that will lead to filing a case in court.
The issue of the landlord having a key: can the tenant prevent the landlord from entering the apartment premises by changing the locks? There is no law entitling landlords to a key. However, the lease agreement probably does. In most lease agreements, the tenant agrees to not making any additions or alterations without the consent of the landlord. Changing the locks is an act of alteration. Many landlords require tenants to provide a key directly and failure of the tenant to comply will be considered breach of the lease agreement.