2

Today my landlord informed me that

that next year’s resident has scheduled an appointment to tour the apartment for Thursday May 28th, 2020 at 12:00pm

emphasis added by me.

Here is the quote from my lease:

ENTRY BY LANDLORD. Landlord or its agents may enter the Premises in an emergency or to perform repairs, maintenance, code inspections, appraisals, insurance inspections, or for other purposes reasonably related to the operation of the building and to show the Premises for sale or lease. Except for entry during an actual or apparent emergency, all entries shall be made during reasonable hours; and Landlord shall make reasonable efforts to inform Tenants of its intention to enter and shall attempt to establish a mutually acceptable time.

My residence is in Michigan. This stack exchange post lists the requirements for entry. I interpret this case, however, as not a prospective tenant but a confirmed tenant i.e. they are already legally bound, unless they break the lease, and are no longer a prospective tenant.

Finally, this is also during the COVID-19 lockdown so I have no where to go during this time. The landlord did inform me that they would wear facemasks while entering the apartment but I just don't feel safe having strangers enter my apartment for no good reason.

Therefore, can I reasonably refuse them entry if they have already "sold/leased" the apartment?

  • Your lease very likely contains a section giving the landlord permission to show the apartment. Can you tell us what exactly it says, and why you think this request does not conform to it? – Nate Eldredge May 22 at 16:52
  • Is the issue that the clause in the lease specifies that the landlord can show the apartment to "prospective residents", and you're arguing that a person who has already agreed to sign a lease is no longer "prospective"? – Nate Eldredge May 22 at 16:55
  • @NateEldredge, yes let me try to find the lease agreement. I've also looked at Michigan law regarding showing apartments before (because my landlord scheduled like a visit per week) and it seemed that was a requirement... I'll have to dig that up tho. – Cody Aldaz May 22 at 16:56
  • 1
    The dictionary definition of "prospective" is "likely to be or become". Someone who has agreed to sign a lease would certainly seem to be likely to become a tenant. I don't think that "likely" excludes "certain", and even if it did, one could argue that nothing is certain in life: the person could back out, or terminate the lease (by mutual consent or other legal means), or be hit by a bus. – Nate Eldredge May 22 at 16:59
  • @NateEldredge I updated the post, thanks – Cody Aldaz May 22 at 17:09
2

Michigan statutory law surrounding landlord-tenant relations on this point is sparse, and instead the state relies on the common law question of the tenant's right of "quiet enjoyment" of the premises and specifically protection against unreasonable entry by a landlord. (Your municipality may have laws, so you could fill in that information). So the judge / jury would have to decide whether it is unreasonable for a landlord to enter, for this purpose. Given a reasonable purpose (which this is) and reasonable notice (which you have), it's not looking too hopeful for you.

You are trying to read the clause saying "or for other purposes reasonably related to the operation of the building and to show the Premises for sale or lease" as meaning "may only show the Premises for sale of lease to a prospective, non-committed buyer / lessee". That is, you're hoping for a "strict construction" interpretation where a landlord can enter only if there is a compelling reason to do so, whereas the common law and the lease make this a matter of reasonable entry.

The covid argument does change the equation quite a bit: it is reasonable for you to deny the landlord access in lieu of a compelling reason to enter. One question is whether such a showing of the unit is in violation of gubernatorial orders (assuming that the order is itself legal). On the face of it, this does not seem to be an allowed action. It would be illegal for the three of you to be in the same apartment (not a single household), and it would be illegal for you to leave your apartment. The proposed action is not necessary to sustain or protect live, and the exceptions in section 7 don't clearly apply. However, it would also be a violation of the order to show an occupied dwelling for rent or sale, so it would be unreasonable to take the order too literally. The "current order" changes now and then, and this seems to be the most recent version which says mostly what the month-old order said, with the addition of county-specific restrictions.

This is a sufficiently complex matter that you should lawyer up.

| improve this answer | |
  • 1
    So why is it reasonable for landlord to show the apartment to someone who has already decided to move in? What is the lawful purpose which could compromise the tenant's right to quiet enjoyment? – Greendrake May 23 at 0:09

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.