September 25, 2022

Notice to Enter: How to Legally Access Your Tenant's Rental Unit

Landlords always have to put importance on the privacy of their tenants. Respecting their right to privacy means that a landlord can’t simply access a unit without giving the notice to enter. It’s not reasonable to say that the tenant is just a tenant and doesn’t own the property. 

A tricky situation sometimes occurs when the tenant’s right to privacy sometimes clashes with the landlord’s right of entry. In this case, a clear understanding of these rights is crucial for both parties. Read this blog article to know how and when landlords can legally enter a tenant’s rental unit. 

What is a Notice of Entry?

A notice to enter is a formal letter informing the tenant that the landlord or property manager will need to enter the rental unit. The letter contains the reason to enter, the particular date and time, and the point of contact information. 

You’ll also need this formal letter if a third party has to access the rental unit. For example, you need to provide a notice to enter if an electrician has to fix some electrical wiring in the apartment. The letter should state the name of the electrician and the arrival time. 

There should be a provision in the lease agreement explaining to prospective tenants the notice to enter. In this way, they’ll know its importance, through what means it will be delivered, and how they should respond to it. 

The letter of notice to enter recognizes the landlord’s right of entry and the tenant’s right to privacy. It also serves as a form of respect to the person on the receiving end of the letter. 

Instances That You Need a Letter of Notice to Enter

In emergency situations such as a fire breaking out of the rental unit, a landlord or property manager won’t need a letter of notice to enter. This situation calls for an urgent need to access the property to determine what’s happening and respond to the emergency. 

However, there are pretty ordinary instances that require a landlord or property manager to provide a letter of notice to enter. Examples are property upgrades or repairs, pest control, regular unit inspection (which happens every four months or twice a year), and showing the rental unit to potential tenants or buyers if the current renter has no wish to renew the lease. 

Allowed Time for the Landlord to Enter a Tenant’s Unit

The permissible time a landlord or property manager can enter a rental unit is during regular business hours. It means during weekdays (Monday through Friday), between 9 a.m and 5 p.m. Typically, the landlord has to give the notice of entry 24 hours or a few days in advance. 

Moreover, the landlord or property manager should state a practical reason in the letter of notice to enter. The rules regarding why, when, and how to give this formal letter to the tenant vary by state. 

New York requires landlords to provide a notice to enter for non-emergency repairs and upgrades and for property showings. In Montana, landlords can send this formal letter through hand delivery or email. And, in Hawaii, a letter of notice to enter must be given to tenants 48 hours in advance. 

A Landlord Failing to Give a Notice of Entry

A landlord who enters a tenant’s rental unit without giving proper notice is violating the right to privacy of that tenant. The tenant can ask you to leave, or if you don’t leave, he/she may take legal action against you in a small claims court. For landlords and property managers, you should write a letter of notice to enter to avoid this predicament. 

The Tenant Refuses Entry

What if the tenant refuses the landlord who wants access to the rental unit? It may be that the time and date is not okay with the tenant. In this case, the landlord has to talk with the tenant and arrange a visit that suits the tenant’s schedule. 

However, if the tenant gives an unreasonable refusal and denies you entry, you can sue the tenant for violating your right of entering the rental unit. 

The Tenant is Not in the Rental Unit

If the tenant is not present in the rental unit and an emergency situation is happening, the landlord can enter the property without notice. But, in non-emergency situations and the tenant is not in the rental unit, you need to know about your state laws if you can legally access the property. 


Yes, landlords and property managers have the right to enter a rental unit but not without giving the tenants a letter of notice to enter. Check the rules and regulations regarding the notice of entry to ensure you’re not violating the rights of your tenant and you practice your right legally. 

Topics: landlord tips, landlords, tenant relations, tenant tips