Tenant Refuses Access For Property Repair

What can a rental property landlord do when a tenant refuses to allow access for needed repairs to the property?

In the ever-evolving world of Philadelphia real estate, one of the most critical aspects of managing rental properties is addressing maintenance issues promptly and effectively. As the marketing director of a leading Philadelphia property management company, I've encountered a myriad of maintenance scenarios, but few are as common—or as potentially problematic—as a leaking or running toilet. Today, I want to share insights from a recent episode of the Grow Real Estate Investing Podcast, where we tackled a question from Chris about handling a tenant who reports a leaking toilet but refuses entry for repairs.

The Scenario: A Tenant Reports a Problem but Blocks Property Manager's Access

Imagine a tenant reaches out, either via phone, email, or text, to report a maintenance issue such as a leaking or running toilet but then becomes uncooperative when it comes to allowing access for the necessary repairs. This situation not only poses a challenge in terms of property maintenance but also tests the boundaries of landlord-tenant relations and legal rights.

Our Approach: Legal Rights and Reasonable Access

When faced with resistance from a tenant after they've reported a maintenance issue, our first step is to ensure we're acting within our legal rights while maintaining respect for the tenant's space and privacy. In Philadelphia, as in many places, a tenant reporting a maintenance issue can be considered as giving notice for the landlord or property management company to enter the property for repairs. However, if resistance is met, we ensure to provide a full 24-hour notice to cover all legal bases, reaffirming our right to enter the property for reasonable reasons.

Ensuring Access While Upholding Tenant Rights

If a tenant continues to be uncooperative, even after receiving the 24-hour notice, our policy is to proceed with the necessary steps to gain access to the property while staying within legal and ethical boundaries. This might include hiring a locksmith to change the locks, should the tenant change them to block entry, and then providing the tenant with a new set of keys. It's a measure taken only in extreme cases, with all costs and applicable penalty fees being billed to the tenant.

The Importance of Prompt Rental Property Repairs

Addressing maintenance issues like a leaking or running toilet isn't just about fixing a minor inconvenience; it's about preventing more significant problems down the line. A running toilet can lead to exorbitantly high water bills, while a leaking toilet poses risks of water damage, not only to the bathroom itself but to the structural integrity of the property. In scenarios where the bathroom's floor joists are compromised, the risk of severe damage and costly repairs skyrockets. It underscores the necessity of gaining access to perform repairs before minor issues escalate into major ones.

Balancing Legal Obligations with Tenant Relations

As a Philadelphia property management company, our goal is to balance our legal obligations to maintain and repair properties with the need to respect our tenants' rights and privacy. It's a delicate balance, one that requires clear communication, understanding, and sometimes firm action. Our commitment to maintaining the properties under our care is unwavering, but so is our dedication to fostering positive, respectful relationships with the tenants who call these properties home.

Conclusion: A Commitment to Excellence in Property Management

In conclusion, managing rental properties in Philadelphia—or anywhere, for that matter—presents a unique set of challenges and opportunities. Handling maintenance issues like leaking or running toilets, especially when access is initially denied, is just one example of the complexities involved in property management. Through it all, our commitment remains the same: to provide excellent service to our property owners and tenants alike, ensuring that every rental property is well-maintained, and every tenant's rights are respected.

Navigating the intricacies of property management requires not just knowledge and skill but also a commitment to ethics, communication, and community. It's these values that guide us as we work to make Philadelphia's rental market a better place for everyone involved. Whether you're a property owner seeking a reliable management partner or a tenant in need of assistance, our door is always open, and our dedication to your satisfaction is our top priority.


Joe White

Joe White is a Philadelphia Property Manager and Real Estate Broker. He is the owner of Grow Property Management and has been involved in the management, sales and purchases of Philadelphia area rental investment properties since 2008. He is an author and works as a real estate investment consultant and construction manager.

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