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November 11, 2015 |

Landlords Retain Certain Premise Entry Rights for Rental Properties

It is not difficult to understand why tenants do not want their landlords to have unfettered access to their rental properties. Residential renters see their apartments as their homes. Anything disturbed during an unexpected visit raises immediate fears of burglary or other criminal activities. Businesses have similar anxieties, compounded by concerns about other businesses spying or theft of trade secrets. These are some of the reasons why Massachusetts law places certain limits on the property access rights of landlords.

Still, there are circumstances when a landlord needs to access rental properties — with or without prior notification. To avoid legal disputes and possible penalties, landlords who have any doubts about their entry rights should talk with a Boston landlord lawyer before walking in the door.

Landlords Retain Entry Rights Under Specific Conditions

Naturally, landlords need to access rental units for many reasons. Section 15B. (1) (a) of the Massachusetts General Law does a good job anticipating those reasons, setting forth the times when landlord entry is permitted, as follows:

• To make repairs
• To show a unit to a prospective tenant or purchaser
• In accordance with a court order
• When a rental unit appears to be abandoned
• To conduct a pre-termination inspection to identify property damage

Common Courtesy is a Good Rule of Thumb

More times than not, landlords can easily conduct their business on a non-emergency basis. In other words, most situations generally allow them to notify tenants and schedule visits during mutually-convenient times. Even though the law does not specifically define situations when prior notification is not required, it does expect landlords to act reasonably.

So, for example, when a landlord wanders into an apartment unannounced, surprising a tenant sitting in the living room watching TV, it would be reasonable for that tenant to have expected a phone call — or at least a knock on the door — prior to the visit. At the very least, tenants in that situation may have a powerful reaction to this type of visit. In fact, they could pursue a temporary restraining order to prevent future occurrences.

Still, some tenants may try to prevent any reasonable landlord visits, regardless of the reasons behind them. In fact, barring any lease language to prevent it, they may go so far as to change the locks to prevent unauthorized access. The Law Offices of Shaun A. Hannafin strongly advises clients to include strong language in the lease to prevent situations like these. Call us at (617) 848-4572 in the event that reasonable access to tenant units becomes an issue or to take action to help prevent future concerns.

Posted in Landlord-Tenant Information

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