Q: I'm renting an apartment in a condo building, and my lease doesn't include any specifications about owner visits. What, if any, are my obligations to let the owner see the apartment?
A: While the owner is within their rights to inspect the apartment, that doesn't mean they can start barging in frequently or without notice, say our experts.
That said, you would do well to double check your lease. "It's surprising that your lease has no paragraph addressing owner visits," says Sotheby's International Realty broker Gordon Roberts, who points out that the Real Estate Board of New York's "Standard Form of Condominium Apartment Lease" typically used for condo rentals includes a specific section about owner visits. Under this standard lease, Roberts says, owners are allowed entry to the apartment "during reasonable hours and with reasonable notice," for the purpose of inspecting the apartment and "make any necessary repairs or changes," "[to] show the apartment to persons who may wish to become owners," "for two months before the end of the lease, to show... to persons who wish to lease it," and "in case of emergencies." (You can take a look at the full, standard condo rental lease on Douglas Elliman Property Management's website here—the details about "entry to apartment" are in section 15.)
And even if yours really doesn't include any details about owner visits, "the law gives a landlord the general right to inspect an apartment [and] make sure there are no violations, etc." says Sam Himmelstein, a lawyer who represents residential and commercial tenants and tenant associations. If your landlord is asking to stop in to see the apartment, then Himmelstein recommends asking for reasonable advanced notice (he typically suggests three days), given in writing, as well as an allowance that you have the right to reasonable re-scheduling if necessary. As far as the frequency, Himmelstein says, "they have to be reasonable." While this term is, admittedly, open to interpretation, he says, "a yearly inspection is ok, for instance, but they can't say they're going to inspect the apartment every month just for the hell of it." If your landlord is demanding constant access to your apartment (or otherwise behaving in a manner that you think might constitute harassment), the city has a guide to reporting them here.
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