A landlord can usually enter rental property without the tenant present. Tenants can provide or refuse consent off site, so no state requires tenant presence for entry. Some special rules do apply, discussed below.
Consent To Enter Property Without the Tenant Present
Most states do not make the landlord get specific consent from the tenant before entry. Consent is usually presumed when the landlord uses a lawful notice and entry process. There isn’t a consent issue until the tenant specifically objects.
This means the landlord usually doesn’t need to worry about consent issues when a tenant is away. The tenant does still have a right to refuse consent, so the landlord still must follow all notice requirements.
Many states, like Missouri, do let lease access policies decide the specifics around consent to enter. However, most states, like Arizona, don’t allow this. In most places, the landlord can’t avoid the default notice and consent requirements.
Special Rules for Notice When the Tenant Is Not Present
A few states have special rules for notice when the tenant isn’t present. In California, for example, property showings must leave written evidence of entry when the tenant is absent. (The custom is to write the date and time of entry on the landlord’s business card, but the landlord may leave any writing which documents the entry.)
Special Rules for Extended Absences
Some special rules can make it easier for a landlord to enter when the tenant is on an extended absence. For example, in Rhode Island, a landlord can suspend advance notice before entry if the tenant has been gone for a week.
Reduced notice requirements don’t mean lower standards for consent. Tenants on vacation could, for instance, call and say they don’t consent to any entry while they’re away. This might sometimes amount to an unreasonable refusal of access, but the landlord will still lack consent to enter.