Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Right to Privacy
Recently, very recently, I had to come head to head with my informal landlord. You see comrades, I am moving out of my current residence by the end of the month, however, I partook in a sublet. This meant that I actually had two landlords: one that I paid rent to because they 'owned' the apartment and one informal landlord that had a long-term tenant agreement with the first. Therefore, this end of the month has been a double whammy.
Nevertheless, I am pretty laid-back when it comes to people coming in and out of my space. You need to pick up some things informal-landlord? Of course. You need to do an inspection of spatial fitness formal-landlord? Come right in.
However, I draw the line at bullying and harassment. The confrontation that I alluded to above happened (did I mention quite recently?) when my informal-landlord informed me that she was still 'technically' my landlord and that she had a right to come and go as she pleased. The breaks went on quietly, but not subtly. I calmly informed her that I was still technically her tenant and I still had rights to privacy. If she thought for a nano-second that being a landlord entitled her to come and go as she pleased, then she has been grossly misinformed for the duration of her entire being.
Landlords, whether they rent or sublet, must still obey the private space of the tenant. In actuality, the only person who can (not may, because may connotes permission) enter your property without your consent is the government and its representatives, although that is completely unlawful as well. It does it anyways. Nonetheless, you have every right to set up parameters that your landlord must heed to. Only with an eviction notice can you be forcibly removed from the premises. However, if he/she just wants access to your home, a phone call and letter must be provided to the tenant 24 hours in advance REQUESTING entry into the space. Even then, as the 1997 Tenant Protection Act outlines, the intrusion may happen only if there is: a) an emergency, b) the tenant's consent, and/or c) previous arrangements outlined within a contract.
So, for all of my comrades who are taken advantage of by formal and informal authority, remember that just because you do not 'own' the land, doesn't mean you do not have rights to your own privacy. Although not a fan of Locke, he did make a good point when it comes to property: you claim ownership by proverbially toiling the land. So, for those landlords who just receive rent cheques every month, yet still feel obligated to be a thorn in your side, remind them that they do not clean the house, nor make your meals. They do not live, sleep, or shower in that residence. You are the one who toils within it. It may be their house, but you made it your home.
More information on Tenant Rights.