Every year hundreds (if not thousands) of NYC renters are faced with what they may feel is an invasion of their privacy, forcing them to ask the notorious question, “Can my landlord enter my apartment?” In NYC and just about every place in the US, tenants have the right to privacy in their rental units regardless of whether or not their landlord lives in the same building. As a matter of fact, the NYC HPD (Housing Preservation & Development) suggests that a landlord is NOT generally allowed to enter their tenant’s apartment without prior notice. Yes, the landlord owns the building, but the rental units are the private properties of the tenants, at least until their least term ends. However, you must understand that there are some exceptions to this rule.
With Prior Notice
Your landlord may enter your apartment with prior notice and at reasonable times, for the following reasons or purposes:
- To provide necessary services and repairs in accordance to the agreed-upon lease terms. Services and repairs may include unit improvements, alterations, decorations, and more.
- To show the rental unit to a prospective tenant. Your landlord is also allowed to show the apartment to an actual tenant (who will be living in the unit as soon as your current lease term ends), prospective buyer, actual buyer, appraisers, repair services or contractors, and mortgagees.
- To deliver large packages in case your mailbox is too small for the package.
- For inspection regarding health and safety concerns.
Please keep in mind that “reasonable time” generally refers to normal business hours and days, so anytime between 9:00 AM and 6:00 PM, from Monday to Friday should be fine. In NYC, landlords are required to deliver a written notice to their tenants at least one-week in advance for non-emergency services. For health and safety inspections, landlords must provide a written notice to the tenant at least 24-hours in advance.
Without Prior Notice
Your landlord may enter your apartment with prior notice if it is in response to an emergency situation, for example fires, flooding, natural disasters, gas leaks, or other situations where you are reasonably considered to be in danger. If it is regarding an emergency, your landlord is allowed to enter your unit without prior notice and at any time. That being said, the requirement for prior notice may also be lifted if:
- Your landlord has acquired your consent to enter the apartment.
- Landlord is under court order to enter the unit.
- You have abandoned the unit.
Regarding a case of abandonment, there is unfortunately no statute to cover this in NYC’s law. Therefore, please be sure to inform your landlord anytime you need to leave for an extensive amount of time, so that your landlord does not think you abandoned your apartment.
Unannounced/uninvited entry into your apartment by your landlord is inappropriate and illegal if it is not an emergency (according to the possible scenarios discussed earlier). In case you have suffered from unlawful entries into your home, there is at least one non-profit free mediation service in every borough in NYC. If that still doesn’t work, you have the option to file a lawsuit against your landlord for invasion of privacy.