Can my landlord come in my home when I am not there and leave a threatening letter?

UPDATED: Aug 3, 2011

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Can my landlord come in my home when I am not there and leave a threatening letter?

I rent a house from my landlord for $500 a month. In the lease it says we have until the 5th to pay, and if not then we are fined $50but have until the 11th to pay the $550. On the 3rd he came in my home when I was gone and left me a threatening letter, all because I haven’t spoke to him. However my cell is off and I planned to pay him on the 5th. He is saying that I have until the 10th or he is going to padlock me out the house, even though I have never not paid and never been past the 5th on paying rent.

Asked on August 3, 2011 North Carolina


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

1) A landlord may NOT enter your home at will. He may only enter for certain recognized reasons (e.g. for maintenance; for an emergency; to show the space to prospective renter or buyer; for an inspection; for pest control) but not otherwise, and even for those reasons, except for an emergency, must provide notice (usually 24 hours).

2) A landlord could certainly mail you a letter saying that you should respond to his calls and stay in touch, or slip such a letter under your door.

3) A landlord may only evict you for certain statutory grounds (e.g. threatening or harming him, or willfully damaging his property) or lease violations (e.g. non-payment)--he cannot evict you because you won't stay in communication with him, unless the lease requires you to. Similarly, if the lease gives you until the 11th to pay, you have until the 11th.

4) Even when a landlord can evict, he MUST do it through the courts and may not simply padlock the house. If he does that, he's broken the law and you could sue him for compensation and to be let back in.

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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