Tenants often think of a space as “theirs,” but you know that it actually belongs to you. This is your property. You are letting them use it, for a price, but ownership doesn’t change. It’s your property, no matter how they look at it.
But say a tenant doesn’t want to let you into the space for some reason. Can they actually lock you out of your own property? What rights do you have here?
You cannot enter whenever you want
It may feel unfair, but the truth is that you cannot just enter the property whenever you want. You may own it, but the terms of the lease mean that the tenant has a right to be there as long as they are paying. You cannot violate that right by forcing your way in without permission.
As a general rule, landlords should try to only go into rental spaces during business hours. You should talk to your tenant first and try to set up a time that works. If they refuse, though, you cannot force your way in and tell them that it’s your property, so you get to do whatever you desire. That right has been lost since you rented out the space.
Now, there are exceptions. Perhaps there is an emergency and you don’t have time to contact the tenant. You may be able to enter without notice and without permission, but be wary that, should the tenant then take action against you, you’ll need to justify your decision.
What should you do next?
If your tenant has locked you out or if you’re having a dispute, rather than forcing entry, take the time to consider all of the legal options at your disposal.