As a landlord you own your buildings and your tenants just live there. So, you can walk in any time you want, right?
Entering a tenant’s house without prior consent is a violation of New York law and can be considered criminal trespassing.
Yes, criminal trespassing on your own property.
New York tenancy laws are very specific about when a landlord can and cannot enter a tenant’s home. Those fictionalized sitcom scenarios of the old landlord barging into a tenant’s apartment because they heard a noise are fictionalized and would never fly in modern day New York.
Does that mean you’ll never see the inside of your rental units again until your tenant moves out?
There are ways to enter a rental unit while it is being rented, but there is procedure to follow.
Written Notice for Repairs and Inspections
If you need to gain access to your tenant’s apartment to make requested repairs or to conduct an inspection as per the leasing agreement, then you will have to give them reasonable notice of your visit.
The New York State Attorney General’s office defines reasonable notice as one week for repairs and 24 hours for an inspection. You must send your tenant a written notice that states when you would like to enter, and for what purpose. All landlord entry should be undertaken at what the state deems a reasonable time.
This falls on Monday to Friday between the hours of 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., excluding holidays.
Failure to adhere to this edict could be seen as a violation of New York’s warranty of habitability, which is an actionable offense. Alternatively, if the tenant refuses to grant you entry, that can also be seen as a breach of the warranty.
Written Notice to Show the Apartment to New Tenants
If your tenant will not be renewing their lease, then you have the right to show the apartment to prospective new tenants. But this must also be put in writing with prior reasonable notice given to the tenant.
Before a new tenant moves in, you will have to turn over the apartment to get ready for them. This can include redoing the floors, painting the apartment, and making repairs. But you cannot start this process before the previous tenant moves out, unless you have their consent.
In Case of Emergency
If there is an emergency occurring within the apartment, a tenant’s right to privacy is temporarily waived and you can enter with no notice.
What constitutes an emergency?
The official state statute says, “where repairs are urgently needed in emergencies to prevent damage to property or to prevent injury to persons, such repairs of leaking gas piping or appliances, leaking water piping, stopped-up or defective drains or leaking roofs, broken and dangerous ceiling conditions, no advance notice shall be required from the owner, agent, contractor or workman.”
If you are confused as to whether you have the right to enter a tenant’s apartment, you should consult with a real estate attorney. If you feel as though your tenant is trying to unlawfully keep you out of the unit, contact an experienced real estate law firm like Adam Leitman Bailey, P.C.