Can You Enter Your Rental in Case of an Emergency?

The answer is yes. In case of emergency, you have the legal right to enter the unit. Landlords have the right and obligation to ensure the safety of the occupants and the property itself. Emergencies are self-evident, but they may include fire, natural disasters, or situations where law enforcement officers require access to the unit.

Here are some examples of situations in which it would be legal for the landlord or manager to enter without giving the tenant notice:

  • A tenant tells your on-site manager she hears screams coming from the apartment next door. After calling the police, your manager uses her passkey to enter and see what’s going on;

  • Your manager sees water coming out of the bottom of a tenant’s back door, but the tenant has changed the locks. Your manager breaks in to find the water leak.

  • Smoke is pouring out the tenant’s window. You call the fire department and use your master key—or break in if necessary—to deal with the fire.

On the other hand, a landlord's urge to fix an important but non-life or property threatening defect—such as a blocked drain pipe—is not an emergency that is allowed without proper notice. In case of emergency, you have the right to keep the key of the premises to facilitate your right to enter, including keys to any locks that the tenant may add. In order to avoid misunderstanding in this regard, we recommend that you specify this right in the lease or rental agreement.