Legal Hotline: Landlord Access to Leased Property

The Question:

Under what circumstances may a landlord access a leased property?

The Answer:

The balancing act between a tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment and a landlord’s right to entry can be a delicate one. Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 186, Section 15B(1)(a) specifically allows the landlord to enter the leased premises under the following circumstances:

  • In accordance with a court order;
  • To make repairs;
  • To show the premises to a prospective tenant or purchaser;
  • If the premises appear to have been abandoned by the tenant(s); or
  • To inspect the property for damage within the last 30 days of the tenancy.

In non-emergency situations, a landlord is required to provide a tenant with reasonable notice prior to accessing the property. The courts have generally found that 24-hours is considered reasonable notice. Recent updates to the State Sanitary Code, however, require landlords to provide 48 hours’ notice prior to accessing the property to effectuate compliance with the Code.

Access for non-Code-related purposes, such as real estate showings, should be addressed in a written rental agreement. This should include the required notice period (not less that 24 hours) and the method of notice (text, email, phone call, etc.). Both landlords and tenants should be respectful of the other’s schedule and aim to work together to find a convenient time for the landlord to access the premises. A flat-out refusal to allow access to the landlord may result in the landlord needing to seek judicial intervention.

Questions about the permissibility of landlord access in specific situations should be addressed with private legal counsel.

Written by: Justin Davidson, General Counsel; Catherine Taylor, Associate Counsel; Jonathan Schreiber, Legislative & Regulatory Counsel; and Kate Berard, Associate Counsel.

Services provided through the Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney-client relationship. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS®, by providing this service, assumes no actual or implied responsibility for any improper use of responses to questions through this service. The Massachusetts Association of REALTORS® will not be legally responsible for any potential misrepresentations or errors made by providing this service. For more information regarding these topics authorized callers should contact the MAR legal hotline at 800-370-5342 or e-mail at