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Landlord access abuse

Posted by ten4privacy (My Page) on
Fri, Apr 10, 09 at 17:30

After giving my 30 day notice to move out of my apartment, I received notice to show my apartment to prospect renters. This being after I ripped through everything in a frinzee to sort and get rid of anything I didn't want to move. I do not feel comfortable having people come in and out of my apartment at any given time. No to mention the release the make you sign stating they are not liable for anything in our apartment under any circumstance, but yet they can let any Joe Shmo walk in and see my apartment. I nicely asked her to please not use my apartment for the purposes of a model to show tenants. If they need to show it before someone signs the lease at move in, I am ok with that, and totally understand. However, that is not their intention. Yesterday and today I was off from work as my son had surgery, and found out they had made an appointment to show my apartment without contacting me ahead of time. My lease only states that access is due to my consent, except in the case of an emergency. I am so frustrated...do we not have rights?????


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Landlord access abuse

Take a really close look again at your lease, make sure there is no clause about showing the apartment on move out (wording can vary). Then check your state laws. (google "Iowa Landlord Tenant Laws" for example). Laws vary but there is usually a reference to access somewhere in State laws. Back to the lease; a common lease language is often included stating a tenant will not unreasonably withhold access to owner/LL for intent of repairs, inspection or showing, however State laws usually stipulate a certain time period owner/LL must give. My state is vague on that, it's just 'reasonable verbal notice'. So I give minimum 24 hour. And this is just my own position on the matter, but I always make sure one of the tenants on the lease will be home at time of showing. Typically I show my houses when they are empty, there is usually some repair or cleaning that needs to be done. Often times people viewing have just let kids (older, old enough to know better) race around like maniacs, grabbing, just being unruly. Don't get me wrong, I love kids, I know they will be kids, but there's 'typical' kid behavior and 'disruptive'. So I don't want to disrespect my tenants with that kind of stuff. Also, I don't trust others viewing the place not to take something of the tenant's (again, just my personal thing), so that's the main reason I insist tenant be home. Don't want something to turn up missing and having fingers come back pointing in my direction.

So anyway, google your state laws (i.e. "Iowa Landlord Tenant Laws"), check your lease again, and if it still shows you are well within your rights to insist you be given advance notice, then by all means do so. You're not out yet, so your place is not up for grabs, it's still yours till the day your contract ends.

Post back what you find out?


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RE: Landlord access abuse

The only paragraph addressing this in my lease is titled "Access". It says: Landlord shall have the right, subject to Tenant's consent, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, to enter the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed service services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgages, tenants, workmen or contractors; provided however, that the Landlord may enter the dwelling without the Tenant's consent, in case of emergency and as otherwise provided in the Iowa Uniform Residential Lanlord Tenant Act. I will post the section relating to this, but my interpretation is that they need to ask, and I need to be reasonable. However, they are scheduling appointments without my consent at times when they know I will not be here. They are taking advantage of my moving and using me as a model apartment.
I called the Property Management main office and told them my concerns and explained I was not saying "no" not ever....but I will not be a model apartment. I have also not been asked, more like "told" it will be shown. I also told them they were scheduling appointments without giving notice. Their response was to contact the apartment office and have them type a letter reminding me of some things....which I haven't received yet, only a message it was coming.


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RE: Landlord access abuse - Iaw provisions

562A.19 Access.
1. The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter into the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors.

2. The landlord may enter the dwelling unit without consent of the tenant in case of emergency.

3. The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant. Except in case of emergency or if it is impracticable to do so, the landlord shall give the tenant at least twenty-four hours' notice of the landlord's intent to enter and enter only at reasonable times.

4. The landlord does not have another right of access except by court order, and as permitted by sections 562A.28 and 562A.29, or if the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.


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RE: Landlord access abuse

my interpretation is that they need to ask, and I need to be reasonable

Sheer coincidence I used Iowa LL/Tenant law as an example and you live in Iowa. ;-)

Based on all you posted, you've interpreted correctly. Also (and I'm not an attorney, just a LL), since your lease does not specifically state a time period for notice, but your State law does, then my opinion would be State law takes precedence here. I would send them a written letter and cite article 562A.19 -B. And hold them to it. It's not unreasonable.

Their response was to contact the apartment office and have them type a letter reminding me of some things....which I haven't received yet, only a message it was coming. Well, they can remind you of what's in the lease, but they've still violated it by just showing up without your consent and without notice. And if they try to bring up some perceived violations on your part, that still does not mean they can overlook their obligation here. In other words it's not a trade off, if they try to intimidate you with some past infraction, it should have been addressed at the time and has diddly to do with what's going on now. Each violation should be addressed in and of itself when it occurs.

Guess the biggest issue is how to get them to do the right thing. You probably can't change the locks, if your lease contains standard language on lock changing without giving a key it would put you in violation. So perhaps the letter will be enough, showing them they are dealing with someone who has done their homework in both state law and lease area.

Can you hold off till the letter arrives? I'm curious to see what it says. Unless of course they just keep a parade of people coming through in the meantime.


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RE: Landlord access abuse

Thank you so much for taking the time to post and give advice on this. I really appreciate your help. I have been pretty upset over this...some things happened since my last posting. I did receive the letter and responded by e-mail. The letter quoted the lease, and translated it incorrectly at least from what I thought.

Here is what the letter said:

Regarding our phone conversation and the conversation with Corporate office this morning I am going to clarify a couple of things to you. In your lease it states:

"8. ACCESS: Landlord shall have the right, subject to Tenant's consent, which consent shall not be unreasonably withheld, to enter the dwelling unit in order to inspect the premises, make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, morgtgages, tenants, workmen or contractors; provided however, that Landlord may enter the dwelling without Tenant's consent, in case of emergency and as otherwise provided in the Iowa Uniform Residential Landlord and Tenant Act."

In this paragraph it states that we, the Landlord do have the right to show your apartment with at least a twenty four hour's notice, subject to your consent which your denial for us to show the apartment must not be unreasonable. Not allowing us to show the apartment can result in us not being able to rent the apartment out, which is considered as unreasonable.
We may contact you between now and the time of your move-out in order to show the apartment again. I understand your request that we show a model unit in replace of yours however we do not have a model unit of your floorplan, also some people will not put a security deposit down until they have seen their actual apartment. We will try to follow your request but we cannot guarantee that we will not need to show your apartment.
Just for clarification for the future if we send a notice to you stating we will show your apartment, if we do not hear anything back from you we will assume that you have recieved that notice and we will show your apartment at the time stated in the notice. If you request that we not show your apartment, you explanation must be reasonable. Thank you for your time and consideration to this matter. If you have any questions or concerns please do not hesitate to call the Office or you can email.

My response to the letter, as well an e-mail from the manager of the office was this:

Consider this legal notification that I am not authorizing my apartment to be shown without my prior consent as I agreed to in the lease. This is not a request, rather a reminder. This statement stands despite any future e-mails or communication I receive from you. My statement does not say I will NEVER show it, rather, you need to gain my consent.

I also reminded them that being reasonable goes both ways and using only my apartment as a model because I gave notice is not reasonable. I did include all sections that I listed above on my posting. I ended with, "I have not requested anything outside of my legal rights." and that if my rights were violated I would pursue it further. I hope I did ok...I am not sure where to go from here if they continue to push the issue, which I honestly believe they will. I hope I am wrong. I will document and address each issue as it arises, but if this continues, what should I do?


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RE: Landlord access abuse

Well that's a big old mud puddle of a letter they sent you.
Excuse the length, this is a gray area indeed. I broke it down.

First:
In this paragraph it states that we, the Landlord do have the right to show your apartment with at least a twenty four hour's notice, subject to your consent which your denial for us to show the apartment must not be unreasonable.

OK, that is correct, and pretty much sums it all up in a nutshell.

Not allowing us to show the apartment can result in us not being able to rent the apartment out, which is considered as unreasonable.

Also correct, but I take exceptions to their wording. Not allowing them to show the apartment can indeed cost them lost income/revenue. So withholding consent is not a habit you want to get into in the coming weeks until your lease is up. Done repeatedly, it could absolutely be viewed as denying access. It's OK for you to exercise your rights under the lease and law, as long as you don't cross a line (and it's a fine one) where it ends up costing them money. That will come back to bite you. No examples are given in the lease or the law as to what's 'reasonable', but I'll offer some from my perspective. Your kid is at home recuperating from surgery. You have a personal meeting or telephone conference for work scheduled at your home. You're sick as a dog and spending half your time in the bathroom. Or from their end if they want to bring in someone at 7:30 AM who just got off a late shift and you're hustling to get everyone where they need to be in the morning. (Though 'reasonable times' aren't always specified in various lease or legislative language, imho it's generally normal business hours and into early evening hours to accommodate folks viewing who work during the day. Again, my humble opinion, but before 8AM and after 9PM is pushing it. I'm more comfortable with 9AM-7PM and get out by 8PM.) But I wouldn't encourage withholding consent because of minor disruptions, there is just no end to those. Such as it interferes with a kid's soccer game, your weekly run to the grocery store, your favorite TV show or the fact that you haven't dusted in awhile. Your reasons for withholding consent should be for more atypical situations where you can't really accommodate them without major disruption and inconvenience to you. If withholding consent is because someone coming through is a nuisance, that's not really reasonable because it's going to be a nuisance no matter what. (Hope that makes sense.) However, I will note that the last sentence of theirs above almost comes across as a blanket statement to me. In other words, it almost comes across as if they are saying if you don't give consent every single time, no matter your reason, then it falls under the law's definition of unreasonable. That, IMHO, is really not justifiable on their end. Example: If you'd rather they not show the apartment on Tuesday because your kid will be home recuperating from outpatient surgery that day, but Wednesday would be better, then you've not really denied access, you've given them a Plan B: Tuesday won't work, Wednesday is fine.

So they've outlined the lease and laws in prior paragraphs. Then they sum it up in their own words with:
Just for clarification for the future if we send a notice to you stating we will show your apartment, if we do not hear anything back from you we will assume that you have recieved that notice and we will show your apartment at the time stated in the notice. If you request that we not show your apartment, you explanation must be reasonable.

It could be my own interpretation, but that final paragraph reads like an about face. After laying everything out and noting they need to give 24 hours notice and with your consent, their summary fails to mention those two key phrases, "24 hour notice" and "consent". (I'm being nitpicky, but were it me sending the letter to a tenant, and I'm past the point of referring to Lease or Law language and using my own words, I'd absolutely reiterate those phrases for no other reason than to cover my own hind end in writing.) It comes across as that they will simply announce to you they will show your apartment and if you don't want them to you better have a darn good reason.

Skipping back up a bit (because I'm confused about the 'model' scenario and it seems to be a key issue):
I understand your request that we show a model unit in replace of yours however we do not have a model unit of your floorplan,...
Just to clarify: it's your place only that's coming available, there are no others like it coming available in the immediate future? I'm not sure why you're saying they are using it as a model? Can you explain? Is it because there a possibility that other units like yours are coming on the market further down the road than yours, and so they are using this opportunity (you having given notice) to show your unit as a 'model' for those future vacancies elsewhere? But if yours is the only unit of it's kind coming available, and they have no vacant model of it to show, then definitely it's your actual unit that will need to be shown.

As far as what you emailed to them, I see nothing terribly wrong with it. You weren't harsh or overly nasty, and did make clear you were willing to be cooperative, but only requested that they abide by the same contract terms and law that you are expected to abide by.

I would urge you not to cling to this as a 'matter of principal'. Rather step back from the frame of mind you're in and think in terms of how a judge would react if this went to court. Would your reason for not giving consent seem perfectly reasonable? Or would it seem to a judge that you were being a bit difficult during this transition phase, and repeatedly refused consent with reasons that weren't very solid? I'm encouraging you see it from the perspective of one enforcing the lease and law. It will serve you well to view it in that regard. Because if they attempt to say you've cost them lost revenues, they're going to keep your Deposit and/or have to take you to court to prove it and recoup those lost revenues from you.

562A.19 Access.
1. The tenant shall not unreasonably withhold consent to the landlord to enter...

That's the clincher. Because "unreasonable" is not defined. (Typically in legislation I've read it never is specifically defined.) Because if they did attempt to define it, there would be no good stopping point. And one person's version of unreasonable is not the same as another's. So it's something that a judge would have to determine. And that is where you do not want to find yourself, standing in front of a judge explaining why you withheld consent to the point you're accused of having denied access.

Please bear in mind again I'm not an attorney, just going on my years of experience as a LL, as well as how I would feel personally were I in your shoes. To a LL it's critical to keep a unit from being vacant, expenses keep rolling in and add up fast. But it's also critical not to break the law while attempting to achieve that goal. This is a gray area, and a situation where a little common reciprocal courtesy goes a long way. They don't lose income, you get to keep your Sec Dep, get a good reference, and stay out of court. ;-)

What to do from here on out? Document everything, keep all correspondence from them and any communication from you to them should be in writing and dated. If they just "show up" again as they did the other day, without proper notice to you, send them a firm note and include what time they showed up, that you were not given the required prior notice and that you must insist they abide by Iowa law and Lease agreement. I don't condone game playing at all, but there is one way to shake them awake if they persist in bending laws. If they don't give notice and you see them coming again, throw on a bathrobe and a towel over your head. Embarrass them out of this. Greet them and those viewing and offer something like "Oh, I wasn't aware you were coming in! Five minutes sooner and you would have found me in the shower!" Prospective tenants aren't going to think much of someone who compromises anyone's privacy. And it's a big thump upside the head to Mgmt that waltzing in unannounced could well find someone in any number of compromising situations that are a major violation of privacy. If they do just as they are supposed to and give notice, if it's truly not a disruption then do give them consent in writing (email, note).

If it goes much further, you might want to consult an attorney.

But I'm still curious about the model scenario if you could clarify that?


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RE: Landlord access abuse

The only thing that I would add to this is that you can try to sell the management on the benefits of giving you advance notice. That if you have warning of the visit, you can make sure that the place is reasonably tidy, beds made, etc. Without warning, the place could look a lot worse.

Or you can give management the info on the hours you are usually at home and ask them to schedule visits during those times. This might be harder to do--some prospective
tenants might only be able to view the apartment when you are at work. But it's worth a shot.

But I would definitely pin them down on just *how* they will be notifying you. Will it be a phone call? A note in your mailbox? A note slipped under your door? Make them tell you by what method the notification will come, so that you can be sure to check several times a day to see if there are any showings planed. Otherwise, they may claim to have called you and tell you that you must have missed the message, or claim that a note was taped to your door and they don't know what happened to it. You don't want to give them room to wiggle out of the 24 hour notification.


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RE: Landlord access abuse

Agree, very good points and suggestions, camlan.


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RE: Landlord access abuse

After my last posting, I had the same concerns about the method of contact and decided to add that clarification to my e-mail stating my available times. Interesting though...after my e-mail they said they apologize for any prior miscommunication, and that my apartment had been rented out over a week ago!

Thanks for all of your help and advice...it is always nice to have other perspectives and experiences. It really helped me stay on track! Thanks!!


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RE: Landlord access abuse

Kind of goofy to go through the letter writing when the apartment was already rented (unless they might be covering themselves in case qualifying paperwork falls through, that can happen.) But hey, at least it all worked out well for everyone in the end and no hard feelings! You're welcome, and good luck with your new place ;-)


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RE: Landlord access abuse

Thanks :)


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RE: Landlord access after 30 days notice

Two days ago I gave 30 days notice. I live in Los Angeles, CA.

My landlord informed me that he will be bringing potential tenants in the next few days, but that he will give me 24 hours notice. I am a clutterer and have a huge mess to sort out and thought I would have plenty of time in 30 days. It says in the lease that he can do that, but isn't there a California state law tht supercedes the lease that gives me a right to my privacy unless its an emergency or inspection?

Suzanne Mork
suzannemork@yahoo.com


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