Landlord’s Right of Entry to a Rented Apartment

In surveying recent trends, we find on the one hand the growing importance of landlord / owner rights with increasing numbers of forced judicial sales (by public auction), passing modernizing costs to the tenant, subletting, the landlord’s right of entry and repossession to his owned but rented apartment to examine the situation is noticeable. At the same time, privacy issues and restriction of intrusion upon the private personal sphere have equally gained relevance. On this page, we explore this clash of conflict of interest.


1.  Constitutional Protection

Art. 13 GG protects one’s privacy against intrusion. It is generally forbidden to enter or to remain in somebody’s private apartment without his consent. Moreover, there is also no general right for the landlord to enter an apartment rented to somebody regardless of his ownership.

2.  Inspection by the Landlord

However, there is a general right of inspection and such presupposes some form of limited entry by the landlord at some time. There will be some cases, where he will have to enter an apartment to make sure everything is in order. If you have not agreement in your rental contract on this issue, the proprietor can make use of his right to inspect under law. In order for a landlord to inspect he has to show a sufficiently important reason. Most standard contracts address this question. Following five reasons are the most typical:

Inspection of Apartments Condition

The landlord can only make use of his right to inspect the apartment’s condition when he has either a special reason or observes certain occasions. If repair and maintenance work not known or anticipated, then he is entitled to inspect for condition every two years. In any case, he may only enter after arranging an appointment with the tenant, whereby each party must take into account important limiting reasons of the other party. This would, for example, be that the tenant may decline inspection during his daytime work hours or during the night.

Visiting with Prospective Purchasers or Tenants

Where the rented property is for sale or where the notice has served to terminate the tenancy, the owner always has the right to enter the rented apartment to show it to persons interested in renting or buying. The modalities (point and length of time for such visits) are to be negotiated. Generally, the renting party will not breach the contract if he only allows visits once a week.

Entering with Craftsmen, Experts, etc.

It is commonly accepted that the owner may enter the apartment with a craftsman or expert, whose help he needs to inspect for any possible danger or damage if he cannot determine them alone. However, entry of such persons still requires the consent of the renter.

Fixing and Repairing

To enter for repairs is only allowed as much as far as necessary. The landlord may, and is indeed obligated to enter a closed apartment in the absence of its tenant in order to prevent a certain damage to this tenant as well as to others or to the house itself (e.g. broken or leaking pipes).

Reading the Meters

In order to calculate the yearly utility costs, the landlord has the right to either personally enter the apartment or to authorize an agent (typically sent by a specialized company engaged in calculating utility costs) enter the rooms. Usually, these readings occur in a yearly cycle or upon termination of tenancy.

3.  Rules for Entering:

  1. Appointments should be arranged at least 48 hours in advance. Any needs of the renter must taken into consideration like vacation, illness, work hours. The tenant can always name another person to represent him during his absence.
  2. Entry may only be made at reasonable times. It would be wrong to neglect the midday break on Saturdays. Reasonable times are for example 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. Other hours are subject to negotiation.
  3. If the landlord sends an interested third person else to view the apartment for rental or purchase, then the occupant cannot demand prior disclosure of identity the visitor. Nevertheless, you may still politely inquire who is coming and why. However, at the time of entry, you can demand proof of identity before you let a stranger into your home.
  4. In any case, a tenant retains his right to prevent trespass and prevent entry. In case the visitor refuses to leave call the police and subsequently inform the land-lord.
  5. If the owner makes any written notes during his inspection, request a copy. Also insist that any notations regarding condition contain contrary opinions.
  6. The owner may not exercise his right of entry by utilizing a duplicate key. His only legal right is to sue in court for enforcement of entry. In cases of urgency, he will have to apply for a temporary injunction. In the case of an emergency (e.g. life and death), he, like anybody, will be excused from entering the premises without prior permission.
  7. The landlord has no overall right to demand a duplicate key. This is especially true where the tenant cannot attend a requested inspection of the owner due to lack of time. The tenant has the general right to attend any and all showings of the land-lord.

4.  Consequences for Unjustified Refusal to Allow Inspection

Where the tenant refuses to permit entry without justifiable reason, this is considered as a clear violation of the secondary duties of the rental contract. Typical damages include loss of prospective profit, and additional costs resulting from failure of entry.

Published on the old CMS: 2007/2/5
Read on the old CMS till November 2008: 230 reads

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