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I live in a large house shared with several other roommates. The landlord has been letting himself in, often without a clear reason. This is illegal where I live. Sometimes I do not see him myself, but he leaves notes for us or makes changes to the house (for example he left a note of what appears to be a cleaning schedule). This is problematic because he doesn't know what the roommates have agreed to ourselves, and I just got everyone on board with our own cleaning schedule. Also, as an extreme example, I'd rather not be in the middle of a shower when he shuts off the hot water to do renovations.

How can I inform him that what he's doing is illegal, and provide him with a link to the requirements for entering the rental unit?

My goals:

  • I don't want to escalate situations
  • I don't want to give the impression I'm doing something bad that I'm trying to hide from him, but I do feel it's inappropriate what he's doing

More information:

  • it's technically a company instead of an individual landlord, but it's always the same guy and the company is small
  • I would like to move out but per my lease; I'm staying for at least a couple more months.

UPDATE:

I just spoke with an information officer regarding the applicable laws. I was partially mistaking. The landlord can let himself into common areas, such as the kitchen and laundry room, but needs a valid reason. Valid reasons do not count as things like checking to see how many garbage bags we have or if we remembered to clean the sink.

Just now some stranger entered the house. I asked who he was and he said 'the handy man'. I asked what he was doing and he said 'fixing the sink'. The sink was draining slowly but I didn't consider it a real problem.

I think I will write a message to the landlord saying it would be safer if we have warning who's coming into the house so that we don't let any random person in.

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    Are you and all of your roommates all on the same page regarding this issue? I.e., did a roommate tell him it was okay to come in whenever he needs/wants to? – user441767 May 3 '18 at 3:01
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    Can you provide information of what country/state you live, laws vary per country/state. it would be hard to provide a link without that info. – Tschallacka May 3 '18 at 8:10
  • @user441767 I tried asking but am unsure. With so many people in the house, and many who do not feel comfortable speaking English (see previous questions) I was unable to get a definitive answer. My best guess is no one said such a thing. – bighouse May 3 '18 at 9:47
  • What is an "information officer"? – Azor Ahai May 3 '18 at 22:55
  • @AzorAhai someone who's job it is to explain the law regarding renting. – bighouse May 3 '18 at 23:47
68

I have had a similar problem in the past.

Your landlord is disregarding your privacy as well as your rights as a tenant. They know that what they are doing is illegal, and still, they do it. They may own the building, but when they lease it, they forego rights to occupy the space without your consent (barring extreme cases).

That being said, I feel entitlement drives the landlord to enter the space. It's hard to deal with entitled people because they feel their actions are unshakably justified. If you want them to stop you're going to have to be prepared to take action and stand firm. Be warned, this may cause tension. However, if no one in your house is doing anything illegal, the law is on your side, and your landlord knows it. There is absolutely no reason to beat around the bush here. You are being taken advantage of.

My housemates and myself took the following steps to get our landlords to back off:

  1. Learn your rights as a tenant (state specific)

  2. Document all instances of unannounced entry or visitation in the past. Include dates, times, who was home, and what the landlord did.

  3. Clearly communicate to your landlord, verbally (so they get the point) and in writing (so you can bring it before a court if the situation escalates), that you will henceforth require the following: notice at least 24 hours ahead of time that they need to enter the residence; and an explanation as to why. Further state that if they do not receive consent from the members of the household (either collectively, or through a specific contact person who you designate), you will consider the entry as a violation of your tenants rights.

  4. Follow through! If your landlord continues this behavior, you will easily be able to void your lease and find another place to live.

Again, your landlord is taking advantage of your passivity/ignorance, and will likely back off if they know that you're wise to what they're doing.

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    You should check what your local law requires of the landlord in terms of notice before entering, and put that in instead of necesarily 24 hours. – IllusiveBrian May 3 '18 at 14:12
  • @IllusiveBrian I updated the question after speaking with an information officer about the laws – bighouse May 3 '18 at 22:51
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You mention that this guy isn't actually the sole landlord. In this situation I recommend that you "talk to the organ grinder, not the monkey"; that is speak to the person that is really in charge, not just their representative. So if he just works for them then you need to find somebody higher. Speak to, or write to someone senior in the company and state:

I want to advise you that [name or job title] has been entering our residence without any notice. I'm sure you know that this is contrary to [quote law / regulation]. Please can you ensure that this does not happen again. We are perfectly happy to comply with any reasonable requests for access for necessary maintenance.

If sent as a letter you could sign it as yourself, or if you don't want to stand alone on this you could discuss with your housemates and consider all signing it together?

The advantage of writing a letter is that you can address it to the company if you don't know the name of the most senior person there. The company name and address should be on the top of any documents you have, such as your lease agreement, or any invoice/bill you have received from them. Such documents may even contain the name of a director or secretary. In some countries, companies are registered with either central or local government and director information is openly available - for example in the UK you can search the Company House database to find the names and addresses of any registered company and the names of all directors. There may be something similar in your country.

If on the other hand the guy is as senior as anybody else in the company, you have a choice - you could speak to him directly and say something along the same lines. However, it seems unlikely to me that a letting company of any size would be unaware of the legal requirements, and likely this guy is acting alone on this. Even in this situation I would advise you write directly to the company so that everybody concerned knows about the situation. Doing things "officially" has the greatest chance of going through the proper channels and being taken seriously.

  • Re "speak to the person that is really in charge" how do I find out who that is? This may seem like a silly question but I have never had a company as a landlord before. I have the contact info for 3 different people and I'm not sure who is considered the boss. – bighouse May 3 '18 at 9:49
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    @bighouse which country do you live in? – Astralbee May 3 '18 at 10:06
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    @bighouse It must be on your paperwork for the rent (in all juristications I've ever lived it) – Angelo Fuchs May 3 '18 at 10:26
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    @bighouse One step is to figure out what kind of company it is: privately held corporation, publicly traded corporation, partnership, etc. You can also see if you find out who's endorsing your rent checks. That's not necessarily who's in charge, but more information. – Acccumulation May 3 '18 at 19:34

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