WICHITA, Kan. (THE WICHITA EAGLE) – There can be some blurry lines when it comes to renting, especially for first-time renters. According to data from the University of Kansas’ data center, in 2020, nearly 400,000 units in the state were occupied by renters.
People have the right to privacy in their home, but what if they don’t own the place they’re living? Can your landlord come and go into your unit as they please? Well, not exactly. Kansas statute 58-2557 says a landlord has the right to enter the unit during “reasonable hours” after providing “reasonable notice” to the tenant.
“That’s generally interpreted … to be working hours, nine to five or eight to six, although it’s, you know … subject to interpretation,” said Steve Minson, an attorney with the Kansas Legal Services who specializes in tenant-landlord work. “And then, after reasonable notice to the tenant … most people think about 24-hour notice.”
To watch a video from Kansas Legal Services that “covers many aspects of renting property from and landlord and a tenant’s responsibilities,” click here.
The city of Wichita’s landlord tenant handbook says the time of “reasonable notice” should be decided upon by the landlord and tenant. The handbook recommends all notices of entry be provided in writing, although it’s not legally required.
Landlords can enter a unit for a number of reasons, including inspection, showing the unit or making needed repairs. A notice does not have to be given if the landlord needs access to the unit in case of an immediate emergency.
What do I do if my landlord enters without notice?
If a landlord enters your unit unlawfully, Kansas Legal Services recommends tenants write a letter to the landlord demanding the landlord not enter without proper notice.
In response to the unlawful entry, the tenant may “obtain injunctive relief to prevent the recurrence of the conduct, or may terminate the rental agreement,” according to Kansas statute 58-2571.
“What happens if the landlord abuses it? The tenant can sue the landlord for actual damages, the tenant can sue for actual harassment or they can terminate their lease,” Minson said.
If a tenant refuses to allow the landlord lawful access, the property owner has a right to “obtain injunctive relief to compel access, or may terminate the rental agreement,” according to that same statute.
It’s important to make sure your landlord has updated contact information in case they need to enter your unit, Kansas Legal Services says, as well as information about any pets that may be in the home.
Where to find resources for Kansas renters
The state has several programs available to renters in need of assistance.
Renters in need can apply for the Tenant Based Rental Assistance program, which provides rental assistance, deposit and utility deposit assistance. Households with a certain income can receive the assistance through grants. There are also programs to help with paying for utilities, like the federal Low-Income Energy Assistance Program.
This article was produced as part of the Wichita Journalism Collaborative, which includes The Wichita Eagle and 10 other organizations and community groups.
To see more stories by Lindsay Smith, click here.