Renting and privacy...

So I’ve been running some numbers on the financial impact of renting vs. buying. And the case can be made that renting a home in my area wins in the long term in a big way. I’m looking for experiences of renters here that have been in good standing, and keep their rental clean. Obviously this is YMMV… Are you bothered much by your landlord? Do they do the drop-in often? I understand that they must give you notice to do so (laws may vary of course), but I figure that if you’re paying your rent on time, and are keeping the place clean, I would hope that they don’t bother you too often to check on their “asset”.

I’ve been renting in various places since 1997, and I’ve never had a landlord drop in without a valid reason - in fact, I think the only time I’ve had one in my place without prior knowledge was when my water heater went out while I was out back when I lived in Knoxville - and that was a valid emergency repair.

However, I’ve never rented from a landlord who was on site, or rented from a non-corporate type landlord - there may have been resident managers, but they always had a corporate to report to (my very first place may have been different, but I don’t remember). That situation could be different, but I’d think a good landlord would be one who did things appropriately and legally.

My landlord is just through that there wall. And I don’t like it.

He’s a nice, young policeman, with a nice young wife. That’s the problem - he’s so dang nice. It’s great in many, many ways and I don’t mean to kvetch about it too much, because he is such a nice bloke and I could be stuck with a bad landlord. But he doesn’t see anything much wrong with just “popping over”, and doesn’t think I’ll mind, because we’re on such friendly terms.

And I do mind, but it’s not a big enough problem to hurt his feelings over, which is probably what would happen if I enforced the notice of inspection period. I guess the upside is it forces me to keep the joint clean.

Speaking of joints… I just remembered another downside to having a cop landlord who pops over unannounced… :smiley:

I think it depends a lot whether you’re renting privately from an individual or through a property management company. I work for a property management company, and we do annual inspections of every rental unit. One year is the minimum that we’d like to have a property manager go through the rental. For apartments, an annual inspection is done in conjunction with testing smoke detectors in suites, and in condos/townhouses/duplexes/houses, I set up annual inspections with the tenants and the property manager. If she has been to the property in the past month for some reason, we skip it, as she’s seen and been inside and can report to the owner that the tenants haven’t painted the walls black and purple, set fire to the stairs, moved in 14 other roommates, or started a grow-op in the back bedroom.

We can inspect more often legally (with proper notice) but you as a tenant need to give us a reason to do so. If there is an emergency, we can and will enter the rental unit without tenant permission in order to deal with the emergency (fire, flood, exploded hot water tank, that sort of thing).

When I was a tenant of another major property management company, the owner of the condo we rented was in town yearly, and liked to come by and have a look with the property manager. We were given notice, and it was once a year, and I had no problems with that. It is the owner’s property, after all, and he or she has a right to be aware of how tenants are treating it. I may not have been crazy about the reminder that we were just renting, and did not own it, but that’s life.


Not at all.

I’ve rented flats (in which case there was never an issue of privacy - none of those landlords ever dropped by unannounced) and rooms in shared places. In the shared places I always found it funny when the “landlord” would snoop and then try to sound as if he’d noticed, say, that I had two sweatshirts on a chair that can’t be seen without entering the room but of course they hadn’t entered the room!

My “whole flat” landlords have been both corporate and private; they’ve also been good, bad and every degree in between. But they’ve never “just dropped by.”

I’ve been in my current apartment for almost two years. It’s owned by a large property management company but there is an on-site apartment manager and a maintenance person.

If they need to enter my apartment they always leave a written notice under the door and give at least two or three days warning. So far there’s just been an annual inspection and a couple times when they were going to do other maintenance to a large block of apartments (e.g. routine maintenance on the hot water radiators and they might need to enter my unit).

In my lease it says that if emergency maintenance is required (e.g. busted water pipe) then they can enter without giving advance notice.

If I make a non-emergency request for maintenance (e.g. when the freezer in my fridge wasn’t working properly) I logged it on the property management company’s website and I had to check a box on the request form saying that I gave them permission to enter my suite if they were to come by when I’m not home.

I currently rent and will be here three years in May.

My landlord never just drops by. The times we had some maintenance issues he always called first. He did not always give 24 hour notice but it has never really been a problem.

Where I used to live the landlord did not come by even when you called with problems. It would take weeks to get some issue addressed. He never came himself. He always sent anyone who happened to be sitting in his bar that felt they could do the job for a couple bucks and some free beer.

I can’t tell you how many different “repair men” came in and out of that apartment. I would have complained but then the problem would not have been fixed even if it was just rigged to work temporarily.

Landlords screen their tenants and tenants should screen their landlords. Make sure you ask what the normal wait time is for repair issues and if the work is done by a regular maintenance man or a qualified repair man. If they tell you he has “friends” that do the work for him then run away and don’t look back.

In my experience, landlords are extremely happy to leave trouble-free tenants in peace.

I’ve been a renter most of my life, most of 40+ years

In my experience, if you pay rent on time and aren’t bothering the neighbors (loud noise, etc.) the landlord will happily leave you alone. The bad tenants keep them quite busy enough.

I’ve rented from corporations, which definitely adheres to the above. If there is a nosy employee reporting them to HQ almost always takes care of the problem, but I think that happened once in all the decades I’ve been renting. Otherwise, they’ll be very “by the book” because that’s how you run a successful business long-term - and if they’re not, move to someone who is.

I am currently renting from a private individual who was a friend and a student of my husband years before he became our landlord. We’re still friends, and in fact we spend Christmas with his family every year. Nonetheless, he does not and as far as I know has never entered our apartment without permission, he waits for us to open the door even though he has a key, and in sum is very good about separating business and friendship.

Once in a long while I have had a landlord enter for emergency reasons - which is a good thing, actually. If the plumbing exploded and is flooding the place I am happy to have someone tackle the problem sooner rather than later when I get home. In all instances that I can recall the landlord informed of the emergency entry as soon as possible (thanks to cell phones, these days that can be before I ever get home)

Certainly there are bad landlords out there (and you should do a little research on them before renting from them) but the horror stories are actually rare,

I’ve been in the same apartment here in Providence for ~4 years and the landlord has only set foot in the place since we moved in once. Actually, the original landlord sold the place about 2 years ago, and the new landlord had never seen this apartment. He’s not the most attentive, and I have a few small problems I’d like taken care of (and an EXTRA FRIDGE HE NEEDS TO GET RID OF) but the rent is cheap and hasn’t changed the entire 4 years.

The president of my condo association is a bigger pain in the ass, unexpected-visit-wise, than any of my landlords ever were. I rented from 1977 until 2004. Really, landlords by and large don’t give a damn unless your neighbors are complaining about you.

I’m renting a room in a condo, so my landlord is also my roommate, and even so he has never come into my bedroom without telling me ahead of time that he needed to (and that’s only been one time). I do keep it cleaned up, but barring an emergency I don’t think he’d know if I had clothes flung all over the place.

I prefer to keep it neat just in case, though.

I think I got lucky, or as lucky as you can in a situation where you’re living with somebody you really don’t know.

I’m a landlord myself, and I live with my tenants. Currently I only have 1 tenant, as I’ve decided to take over the upper floor to myself, and only rent out the basement apartment. I’ve never had a problem with a tenant not wanting me around. In fact, if anything, my current tenant pops in to visit more than me him. Course, he’s one of my best friends, and I started renting out to him while we were the same classes in college, so we pretty much have the same lifestyles. He’s never once had a problem with me coming downstairs to say hi, or to check the water meter. He leaves his apt door unlocked during the day too, so I can let his dog out if she needs to go outside.

I think this kind of thing is pretty rare though, most landlord-tenant relationships aren’t this easy. Often times, the landlord is very snoopy, and picky, and overly concerned about their investment.

In the past, I’ve not lived here, and rented to students. That was an interesting time, as I had a tenant in the basement that was kind of an idiot. Smoking/Toking in the basement, annoying the hell out of the other tenants etc. I had to go over a couple times to talk to him, and I never announced that I was showing up. I would get a call from one of the other tenants saying he’s smoking pot in the house or whatever, and I would just go over there, take care of any of the little things that needed doing, and ask the tenants if there are any problems with the house, then go downstairs to talk to the bad tenant. I must admit, it was pretty funny how he got all scared and skiddish whenever I went to talk to him. It’s not like I was kicking him out, I simply reminded him of the rules and asked him (politely) to comply.

Point being, not once have I ever came to the house to “inspect” anything my tenants were doing. If you have a bunch of tenants living with each other that didn’t know each other to start with, you usually get a phone call if there’s any problems. It also helps to have a friend living at the house. They will report anything that’s of any major concern.

That being said, you’re likely not living with roommates. I would advise you to know who you’re renting from and make sure he/she isn’t a jerk/bitch. And then, simply be a good tenant (not that you wouldn’t be). If privacy is a concern, address this with your potential landlord and see what they say. If you don’t want your landlord dropping in, then don’t rent from a landlord that says they do drop-ins.

The only time I had a problem was when the 2-flat (not owner occupied) was privately owned and the owners decided to sell. They decided that 24 hour notice was no longer required when they had prospective buyers wanting to see the place. To a limited extent, I can agree with that, and had they called and made some reasonable attempt at a conversation about it, I would have been more accommodating. Also, if it hadn’t taken 2 years, with an average of 5 unannounced showings a week. That got old. Finally, I just stopped cleaning up except when they called first, and that stopped that nonsense right quick. Once they figured out that they could either make an appointment for tomorrow and call me or they could ask their buyers to step over empty pizza boxes and ignore a stack of dishes in the sink, they decided it was in their best interest to give me some notice. Ya think?

After that building sold, I moved across the street to a 12 unit (much larger building) owned by three different management companies in the 3 years I moved there. There I felt much more secure refusing admittance without proper notification, mostly to building inspectors. Yes, it made their job harder, but they needed to take that up with the office, not with me.

Generally speaking, unless you have a personal recommendation you trust, I’d take a management company over a private individual as a landlord. There’s less chance of personality conflicts there, and more stuff in writing, and they’re easier to scare into action with the mention of either lawyers or “discussions” with your neighbors.

My last landlord would just drop by to do repairs, until finally I told her that legally I should get 24 hours notice. She was a horrible, horrible landlord. She would just come in when we weren’t home, no notice, nothing, until I really insisted that she just could not do that. But the apartment, the right half of a townhouse style duplex, was huge and insanely cheap- $660 for a 2 bedroom with an upstairs and downstairs in a good neighborhood in Minneapolis. So I suffered her horribleness.

My current landlord is around sometimes, and he likes to knock on the door to tell us things- about once a month. Which is fine, and he always schedules ahead of time repairs and actual apartment entering visits.

I’ve had landlords who had no respect for privacy; one sent her 30-year-old son over at 11:30 p.m. to repair the water heater, and he just let himself in with his key while I was sleeping. (Apparently, she only rented that apartment to single females, trying to get her creepy son hooked up with someone. I learned about that after I’d lived there a few months, so I moved.)

Now my landlord is a private investigator and former cop, but he never bothers us. We handle all repairs on the house, and if need be, he drops by with a check that day or the next. Our lease, however, is 20 pages long, and details every single imaginable thing. He covers his butt, and we’re equally covered as to our rights and responsibilities. He’s offered to sell us this house, or lease us another, larger property of his, because he knows he gets his rent two months ahead of time, and we take care of the place.

The biggest impostion a landlord can make on you is to ask you to move because he is selling the property. Many rental properties are being rented only because the owner can’t sell, or think they can do better in a few years. Even people who have every intention of renting their property for many years have changes in circumstance that force them to sell. For me, this is the strongest argument for owning.

I work in rental property management and we do not just stop by for no reason. For normal maintenance we give two days’ notice. For emergency repairs we call and tell you or leave a message, and also leave a note in the apartment.

It’s hard enough to do this job without having to socialize with you people.

So you think it’s unfair for a landlord to ask a tenant to move if they want to sell? I suppose it depends on the circumstances. Personally, if I sold my place, I would make sure the closing date fell at the end of tenant’s leases. That being said, my only tenant currently doesn’t really have a “lease”, although he signed one when he moved in, he only signed a 1 year lease, and he’s been here for 3 years. Recently, I asked a tenant to move out simply because I wanted the upper floor to myself. Course, that’s my right, as I live there as well, and own the place, AND he was in the same situation as my other tenant with the lease.

While you’re right that some landlords only rent because they can’t sell, or because they think they can do better in a few years, a lot (in fact, most) landlords only rent to make money. I bought my house as an investment, so that I could rent to students while I was still in school, thus helping pay my living expenses and tuition. I’ve been out of school now a few years, and it has simply been extra income. I’ve been doing renovations on the place for almost a year now (now that I can afford to do so), and I have two possible avenues I can take once renovations are complete. I can either sell the place, basically flipping it, (in which case I would have no problem asking my one tenant to move), or I can keep the place, and hire a property manager to do all the work of taking care of the place. Either option isn’t a bad idea.

Back to the point. I don’t think it’s an imposition on a tenant to ask them to move, as long as you let them ride out the remainder of their lease, and in the event that they have already done so, they should get at least 2 months notice, possibly even 3.