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|Entering the tenant’s dwelling unit
All leases, whether written or oral, give the tenant “exclusive possession” of the dwelling unit. This means that only the tenant, or members of the tenant’s household, or people the tenant allows in the house or apartment, have the right to be there. The landlord does not have the right to come into the house or apartment whenever he or she wants. In a written lease, the landlord’s duty to not enter the tenant’s house or apartment is called the covenant of quiet enjoyment. This covenant (promise) means that the tenant has control over who can or can’t come into his or her apartment or house. Cite: Ashley Court Enterprises v. Whittaker, 249 N.J. Super. 552 (App. Div. 1991).
When can a landlord enter?
The law allows the landlord or the landlord’s workers to go into the tenant’s dwelling only in a few special situations:
-If the tenant invites or asks the landlord or one of the landlord’s workers to come in.
-If the landlord needs to inspect the apartment, but only
at reasonable periods of time—every day is unreasonable, every few months might be okay; at a reasonable time of day—4 a.m. is unreasonable, 4 p.m. might be okay, depending on whether the tenant will be home at that time; and only after giving the tenant reasonable notice that he or she is coming to inspect.
Reasonable notice usually means a written notice. It also usually means that the notice must be given at least one day before the landlord wants to come in. For buildings containing three apartments or more, there is a regulation requiring one day’s notice before a landlord can come into an apartment to make an inspection or do repairs. Cite: N.J.A.C. 5:10-5.1(c).
If the landlord or one of the landlord’s workers needs to come into the apartment to do maintenance or make repairs. If the repairs are not an emergency, they can only come into the house or apartment at a reasonable time and after giving reasonable notice.
If the landlord or the landlord’s workers need to come into the house or apartment to do emergency repairs. Under this circumstance, the landlord may not have to give one day’s notice—or even any notice—if the emergency is really serious or dangerous, for example, the apartment is on fire or water is rushing out of a broken pipe and pouring through the floor. But even in the case of an emergency, the landlord should try to give some notice if he or she can, even if the notice is just a phone call.
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