Rights of Tenants: Landlord Entering Your Home
Can my landlord come into my apartment or house at any time?
No. If your landlord wants to come into your home to make non-emergency repairs, or to show or inspect the apartment, she must give you "reasonable notice." Normally, this means at least 24 hours notice.
Your landlord can come in only at "reasonable times." Generally, this means during the daytime or evening, not in the middle of the night. There may be other factors that make certain times "unreasonable" for you.
Exception: If there is an emergency, your landlord can enter after a shorter notice or without notice. For example, the pipes burst or there is a fire in your apartment.
What can I do if my landlord comes in without giving me reasonable notice?
If your landlord does not follow these rules, or if your landlord tries to comes in without good reason to the point you feel harassed, you can sue your landlord. The judge can order your landlord to pay you for your "actual damages" or $100.00, whichever is more. She can also order the landlord to stop coming into your apartment without good reason and without fair notice. If you have a lawyer and you win a hearing, the court can also order your landlord to pay your lawyer fees.
If you cannot get a lawyer and if you need fast protection from serious, repeated harassment, you can file a Protection from Harassment complaint in District Court.
Is it legal to change the locks to keep my landlord out?
No. If you need to change the locks for any reason, you must notify your landlord. Also, you must give him a key within 48 hours of the change. Victims of domestic violence, sexual violence or stalking who need to change the locks for safety reasons have 72 hours to provide a new key to the landlord.
Your landlord may give you a 7 day eviction notice if you change the locks without following these rules. (Read more about evictions.) He can also charge you for any damage caused if he needs to enter in an emergency and is locked out.
Revised August 2010; partially revised October 2015