As property managers, we must constantly reflect upon our actions to ensure we are not violating the law or general rules of etiquette. It's not only what makes a person a good landlord, it's what constitutes being a decent person. As Scott Safadi of Cal Bay Property Management can attest, understanding your rights as a landlord can ensure you keep your tenants and your staff happy. One issue that comes up frequently is the policy of entering a unit without warning. Doing so risks your good relationship with your tenant. On the other hand, ignoring a potential maintenance problem until you can warn the tenant can also lead to serious damage. So what's a landlord to do?
For starters, look up the local laws in your area surrounding this issue. In most states, landlords are required to give tenants a warning within a reasonable amount of time of entering their property. Defining reasonable, however, isn't always straightforward. In Louisiana, for example, landlords need only provide advance notice in the form of a knock on the door. If no one answers, they may use their key to enter. How's that for reasonable notice?
It's also important to consider why you plan to enter a tenant's unit. If there's a maintenance need and your team needs to get in to solve a problem, a tenant would be hard pressed to find a reason not to let you in. On the other hand, if you're searching for a reason to throw out a problem tenant, your presence in their apartment could be seriously problematic. By having respect for the law and your tenant, you ensure you're on the up and up.
If your tenant has taken issue with you entering their property without warning, consider having an honest conversation with them about why you need to do so. Come up with a reasonable solution that can make both parties comfortable. If you need to access someone's property, keep the golden rule in mind. Treat your tenants the way you would like to be treated, and you'll be surprised at the respect you get in return.
Scott Safadi, Cal Bay Property Management
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