Can a landlord come in to your rental property and unlock the lock onyour bedroom door?

UPDATED: Oct 11, 2010

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Can a landlord come in to your rental property and unlock the lock onyour bedroom door?

Asked on October 11, 2010 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

A landlord's right to enter their rental property can be, and is, a source of conflict with tenants.  Many landlords may believe that because they own a property, that they have a right to enter it ant time they please.  On the other hand, a tenant may believe that they have no obligation to permit a landlord to enter the property or that they have no choice but to tolerate a landlord's invasion of their privacy. Many states and localities have laws that define a landlord's "right of entry" into a rental unit.

In MI, a landlord who enters without permission or notice is trespassing.  State law says tenants are entitled to privacy.  A landlord must give "reasonable notice" before entering (typically 24 hours or more).  Basically, if it is not an emergency or your lease specifically states otherwise, your landlord cannot legally enter your rental without permission or notice.  Potential remedies include calling the police at the time the illegal entry occurs and withholding rent the next time it is due.  Consult directly with a real estate attorney as to this. You may even be able to negotiate compensation for the privacy invasions.  That having been said, a landlord can enter the property unannounced if such entry is necessary to cure a dangerous condition, prevent destruction, or to respond to a bona fide emergency on the premises. There is, however, no legal requirement that a landlord notify a tenant prior to making entry under such circumstances. 

Note:  Sometimes tenants feel that the only solution is to add or change locks. You could add a second lock and leave it unlocked when your landlord has requested access but you are unable to be there to let her/him in.  But if there is an emergency, your landlord may need to enter your unit.  If your landlord or emergency personnel need to break down the door to get in, you may be liable for the cost of repairing or replacing the door. 

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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