Can a Landlord Be Charged With Trespassing?

Landlords are the legal owners of a rental property, but does that also mean that they can enter whenever they want? If a tenant is legally residing in that property, the answer is a clear and resounding no.

But does that not mean that a landlord may never enter the property either? Well, the answer is no here too.

So that begs the question of when a landlord would be trespassing when they enter the rental property?

That’s the question I am going to answer in this article. I will also provide background information relating to trespassing in general, a landlord’s right to access their property, a tenant’s right to privacy and how it all fits together.

If you have don’t have the time to read through it all, here’s a short answer to the question:

As a general matter, a landlord may be trespassing if they enter the tenant’s home without their consent and do not have a legal exception for entering that does not require consent. These exceptions generally include situations like addressing an emergency (fire, flooding, etc.), or reclaiming an abandoned property.

Ok, we’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get into it.

The information contained in this post is for informational purposes only.  It is not legal advice.  You should seek the advice of a qualified legal professional before making any decisions relating to the topics covered by this article.

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What Constitutes Trespassing?

Let’s start with the basics.

Trespassing occurs when you knowingly enter someone else’s property without their consent, which violates their privacy or property interest. Source.

This includes going onto a property that has “no trespassing” signs, scaling a wall or fence, or passing through a closed door or gate. Another instance of trespassing is when a person remains on a property after being asked to leave by the owner or tenant.

Tenant’s Right to Privacy and Quiet Enjoyment

So we know that trespassing is. Why is a landlord potentially trespassing if they are entering into a property they own?

Well, that’s because once a tenant signs a lease with the landlord, they are given a right to occupy the premises and then have a right to privacy in their rental property. This includes the ability to prevent your landlord from entering without your consent and prior notice (subject to some limitations, which we’ll cover later).

They also enjoy a right to quiet enjoyment of their property, which basically means that they possess the right to quiet and peaceful possession of the premises against the landlord.

Basically, it means your landlord can’t keep pestering you, showing up to your place unannounced or otherwise disrupting the peaceful enjoyment of your home. Source.

Landlord’s Right to Access a Leased Property

A tenant’s right to privacy and quiet enjoyment is not without its limitations.

A landlord is permitted to access their rental under certain conditions.

Obviously, if the lease permits it, then the landlord can enter without trespassing. Usually this takes the form of coming into the property to make repairs, perform services, conduct periodic inspections, show the rental to prospective buyers or tenants, and other situations spelled out in the lease.

Even in these cases, however, there is usually some prior notice that must be given.

In some cases, a landlord can enter without consent or notice even though the lease doesn’t permit it in extreme circumstances. These are usually outlined in state and local landlord tenant laws.

We are talking about emergencies like fire, flooding or other serious threats to life or property.

Another common exception to the general rule around landlord needing consent and notice, is when the landlord suspects that the tenant abandoned the property. Again state and local laws usually govern this area, so you will need to familiarize yourself with the various rules and regulations at play (or hire a lawyer to help you navigate them).

If you prefer to have a lawyer assist you, I would try JustAnswer. They boast access to thousands of highly-rated, verified real estate lawyers whom you can connect with via their unlimited chat service.

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When Can a Landlord Face Trespassing Charges?

If a landlord enters a rented property without the tenant’s consent and does not have a valid legal reason to do so (as described above), they may be facing trespassing charges.

Depending on how serious the offense was, a landlord who is found guilty of trespassing faces different punishments. It can be criminal trespass or civil trespass and the penalties for each vary.

To learn more about trespassing and its various forms, check out this article.


So there you have it – a clear answer to the question of whether a landlord can be charged for trespassing and the circumstances under which they may be charged with that offense.

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