When you become a tenant, your landlord usually keeps a key to your house or apartment. If repairs are needed, or if there is a heating or plumbing emergency, your landlord needs access. Many written leases require you to give your landlord access to the property. But sometimes the landlord abuses the right to have a key. Even though access to the dwelling is necessary in an emergency, you have the right to privacy.

While state law gives no clear guideline for when a landlord can get access, the courts’ interpretation is that the landlord should give you at least 24 hours notice if he or she needs to enter your apartment to make routine or non-emergency repairs. These repairs should be made during normal business hours. The same principle applies if your landlord wants to show your home to people when you are getting ready to move.

If your landlord violates these guidelines, you may have to change your locks and not give your landlord a key. This could also be illegal sexual harassment. You should warn your landlord in writing.

BE CAUTIOUS ABOUT CHANGING THE LOCKS

If there is an emergency, and your landlord cannot get in, you may be liable for the damage caused by breaking down your door. You may consider getting a chain lock that prevents people from walking in unannounced while you are home.