What are my rights as a tenant regarding privacy?

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What are my rights as a tenant regarding privacy?

I have lived in my apartmentfor 10 months and my landlord comes in without knocking, shows up at 9:30 at night to fix a shower head and threatens to raise my rent for fixing a 16 year old air conditioner. When I question him he threatens to raise my rent by $200. This is a motel but rents all most all units by the month. I can’t afford to move right now. What recourse do I have?

Asked on July 12, 2011 under Real Estate Law, South Dakota

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

The landlord is required to give notice before entering your apartment unless it is an emergency.  The notice requirement varies from state to state but is usually 24 hours.  The notice should be in writing and entry into your apartment should be during normal business hours unless it is an emergency.

The landlord cannot enter without knocking.  You may be able to sue the landlord for invasion of privacy for entry without knocking.  Your lawsuit should also include a separate cause of action (claim) for violating the notice requirement.

It sounds like the landlord is looking for some excuse to evict you  given the threat to raise your rent for doing repairs or even answering your questions.  If you are evicted for something that is not a breach of the lease, you can sue the landlord for retaliatory eviction.  This means the landlord is retaliating against you by evicting you.

In every lease there is a covenant of quiet enjoyment which means that the tenant cannot be disturbed in his/her use and enjoyment of the premises.  At this point, a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment may be a weak argument, but it is something to consider depending on this landlord's actions against you in the future. 


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