As a Landlord of a single family residence, I understand my obligation to give advance notice to enter the home for business reasons. But what are my rights to access only the grounds of the property? For instance, the property has a pool and creek which I'm responsible for the care of although I have employed a pool service. May I access the property grounds only without notice just to check the condition of the pool or yard or creek? This is in the state of Texas.
I have not tried anything yet but my Tenant has the impression that I'm going to stop by whenever I please. I just bought this house in April and my tenant moved in June 1st. His wife did not move in until the end of July as they moved from Boston to Texas and he arrived first for his job. During the month of June, there were some Electrical and plumbing repairs needed. The tenant allowed me access at my convenience to take care of the repairs. But now that his wife has arrived, he believes I will still come at my own convenience. I have managed rentals for 12yrs and always give reasonable notice for access. But I just want to know what my rights are for stopping by without notice just to inspect the yard, pool or creek or do I have to give notice for that as well?
HelloCustomerThere is no statutory restriction in Texas law that applies to the Landlord's right of entry.There may (and should) be a provision in your lease that covers this. If there is not, you may want to consider revising your lease before you use it on another tenant.The answer to your specific questions is this: Yes, you may acess the property grounds, without notice.Here's the legal analysis. Texas Property Code, section 92.001 (3) defines "lease" as any written or oral agreement between a landlord and tenant that establishes or modifies the terms, conditions, rules, or other provisions regarding the use and and occupancy of a dwelling.Texas Property Code section 92.001(1) defines "dwelling" as one or more rooms rented for use as a permanent residence under a single lease to one or more tenants.So, legally speaking, your lease refers only to the physical structure (dwelling) and you are free to go on your property, without notice, for any reason.
I hope this answers your question. If there is anything that you do not understand, please let me know and I will be happy to explain further. In the meantime, please click "Accept" so that I may be paid for my answer and any subsequent follow-ups with you. Thank you, The Judge (actively practicing Texas real estate law attorney and former Trial Court Judge)
P.S. I am frequently asked how someone can specifically request that I, personally, answer a question. Here’s how: for new questions in the future, always begin your question with “QUESTION FOR THE JUDGE.”
I have a copy of the Texas property code in front of me right now and I see your analysis clearly and it's makes total sense. But, if you would refer to Section 92.001 (5) defining the "Premises" which I presume includes the yard, pool etc...The lease authorizes the Tenant to use the pool, yard etc... so does this section legally limit my access to the "Premises" without notice?
HelloCustomerThat is very perceptive.Here's the distinction. The "lease" by definition leases a "dwelling." A "tenant" is a person who has a right to occupy a "dwelling." A "landlord" is a lessor of a "dwelling." If this were an apartment complex, then the apartment would be the "dwelling.""Premises" are the areas, grounds, etc. that the tenant is authorized, by the lease of the dwelling, to use. In the context of an apartment complex, it would be parking spaces, a common swimming pool, the clubhouse, etc. In your context, of course, it is the grounds, the swimming pool, etc. Note that the definition specifically describes the "premises" (apart from the specifice rental unit) as being the grounds, etc that the tenant is authorized to use.Even more importantly than this nuanced explanation is this clear legal principle: by common law (unless your lease states otherwise) a landlord is entitled to reasonable access at reasonable times for reasonable purposes, with no corresponding duty of advance notice.So the answer to your question is No, Section 92.001 (5) does not limit the landlord's access to the "Premises" without notice. In Texas, the only thing that can limit a landlord's right of entry for reasonable purposes at reasonalbe times would be a provision in the lease.
I am happy to continue answering your questions until you fully understand all of your legal rights. If there is anything else that you do not understand or wish me to clarify, please let me know and I will be happy to explain further. But, in the meantime, please click "Accept" so that I may be paid for my answer and any subsequent follow-ups with you. Thank you, The Judge (actively practicing Texas real estate law attorney and former Trial Court Judge)
Two more things...The lease I have is the Texas Association of Realtors Residential Lease, as I hired a Leasing agent to find suitable Tenants. Item 2 of the lease is a description of the Property the Landlord leases to the Tenants. It states the Landlord leases to Tenant the following Real Property and then it proceeds to legally describe the property as you would see it recorded in county records. If I'm leasing the "Real Property" to the Tenant, can that limit my access to the grounds?
I'm sorry for being so particular but my tenant has become argumentative and is challenging me on these issues and he has harrassed me to the point that I've threatened to file harrassment charges against him for any further harrassment.
Besides the Texas Property Code and you, is there anything in writing somewhere that I can refer him to that will settle this access issue with him. I do have a reasonable access clause in my lease, but I don't believe that will be enough to satisfy him.
Thankyou for your time!
Hello again,Customer"I do have a reasonable access clause in my lease." That statement makes everything we have talked about moot. All of the provisions of the Property Code or common law don't apply. You have the right of reasonable access. Period.If the tenant denies you reasonable access, he will breach the lease. Period. That gives you possible options to terminate the lease, evict him, or sue from damages. Period.If the "reasonable access clause" requires notice, then give notice. If it does not require notice, then give notice only if you want to. Neither the law nor the lease requires you to.If you want to try to accomodate him, give him notice of the date and time you will enter the home or enter on the premises and the purpose and specific activity your visit.If you want to to be extra accomodating, give him a block of time and let him set the specific time. Or give him a choice from several dates and times.Both of those are way beyond the call of duty by you.There is nothing, beyond the language of your lease, that will bolster your case. If you wanted to pay a lawyer to do research, there are undoubtedly numerous cases in which the "reasonanleness clause" has been upheld. But remember, you don't need to satisfy him. You only need to satisfy the law, or a judge if you go to trial. And the language of your lease is paramount. The judge will not even need to refer to any law.
As I said earlier, I am happy to continue answering your questions until you fully understand all of your legal rights. So, if there is anything else that you do not understand or wish me to clarify, please let me know and I will be happy to explain further. But, in the meantime, please click "Accept" so that I may be paid for my answer and any subsequent follow-ups with you. Thank you, The Judge (actively practicing Texas real estate law attorney and former Trial Court Judge)
But this is what I'm trying to distinguish...Does the Property "grounds" require the same type of notice that the "dwelling" does?
The lease says: Access: Before accessing the Property, Landlord will attempt to first contact Tenant, but may enter the Property at reasonable times without notice to make repairs or to show the Property etc....additionally Landlord may peacefully enter the Property at reasonable times without first attempting to contact Tenant and without notice to do repairs etc...
I interpret this to apply to the dwelling, not the grounds. If this part of the lease does not separate the two, then I am to assume I must give notice just to drive up to the property and walk down the driveway to look at the pool. Is that correct?
Hello again,CustomerProper interpretation of law requires very EXACT usage of words. "Property" is not "dwelling" is not "premises."Your access clause (which is the governing law in this situation) says that you have reasonable access, etc . . . may peacefully enter, etc . . . the property.So if you can answer what is the property (not the dwelling, not the premises), you will have the answer to your question.In an earlier message, I believe you stated that the property was defined by the metes and bounds or lot and block number. The heading of that section of your lease may even by titled Property.Therefore, the reasonable access clause of your lease, in referring to property, is referring to the property that the same lease defined earlier. You can set foot on any part of that property, as defined in the lease, without giving notice.As an aside, the law never grants a right and then makes it impossible to exercise that right. So the law would never say that you can enter a dwelling but it make it unlawful to enter the property surrounding the dwelling. It would be impossible to enter the dwelling, and have the same legal effect as saying you have no right of entry to the dwelling. A law or a contract would never be interpreted that way.Under the terms of your contract, you have the right to go on to the property, which is defined by the lease referring to the legal description as including the driveway and swimming pool, to inspect and/or make repairs.
As I said earlier, I am happy to continue answering your questions until you fully understand all of your legal rights. So, if there is anything else that you do not understand or wish me to clarify, please let me know and I will be happy to explain further.
But, in the meantime, please click "Accept" so that I may be paid for my answer and any subsequent follow-ups with you. Thank you, The Judge (actively practicing Texas real estate law attorney and former Trial Court Judge)
Active real estate lawyer & former judge with over 30 years experience in real estate law.
Thankyou for being so patient with me. But I must still ask for clarification. Since the Property is defined by the lot and block number, and the access paragraph indicates that I must first attempt to give notice to enter the Property, then I can only assume I cannot visit the property without giving a notice to do so first, even if I'm unable to make contact with the Tenant, I must first try, then I am legally able to access the grounds of the property. Is this correct?
Hello again,CustomerAs I said, I'm glad to continue answering questions until you full understand your legal rights.In a prior message, you only quoted excerpts from the reasonable access clause of the lease. If you can, it would help if you cut and paste the entire paragraph so that I can review the exact language.If that is not feasible, then I would suggest that you first attempt to contact the tenant by any means that is convenient for you (even if it is on your cell phone while you are driving to the property). I don't think it says anything about asking for his permission or notifying him any length of time in advance. I think it says just try to contact him. So try to contact him and then go on the property to do what you want to do.You want technical compliance with the lease, without assuming that you must do anything further.Thanks,The Judge
a. Access: Before accessing the Property, Landlord or anyone authorized by Landlord will attempt to first contact Tenant, but may enter the Property at reasonable times without notice to make repairs or to show the Property to prospective tenants, buyers, inspectors, fire marshals, lenders, appraisers or insurance agents. Additionally, Landlord or anyone authorized by Landlord may peacefully enter the Property at reasonable times without first attempting to contact Tenant and without notice to: (1) survey or review the Property's condition and take photographs to document the condition; (2) make emergency repairs; (3) exercise a contractual or statutory lien; (4) leave written notices; or (5) seize nonexempt property if Tenant is in default.
There you goCustomerI was trying to tell you what to do based on my memory of the TAR lease provisions, and my memory was pretty good.So, if you're going to actually make repairs or show the property to someone else, call him from your cell phone on the way over there. If he answers fine, tell him what you are going to do (not ask permission). If he doesn't answer, you have a cell phone record that you attempted to contact him.If you're going there for the reasons listed at the end of the paragraph, just do it.If he doesn't like it, or he doesn't believe you, or he wants stronger evidence, then tough. The lease speaks for itself. He can spend the money and go consult a lawyer to tell him what i have told you.You know your rights. They're rock solid, and you should act on them.I'm happy to keep on answering until you fully understand.Thanks,The Judge
I believe I fully understand my access rights now. The answer was right there in my lease all along. Thankyou for your help! Your responses were well written.
It's been my pleasure,Customer Let me know anytime that I can help.The Judge
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