Rachel Lutts' Blog
Making the transition from being a renter to a home owner is a life changing experience -- one which brings both rewards and new responsibilities.
Although you'll no longer have a landlord (on speed dial) to handle things like yard maintenance, noisy neighbors, and appliance repairs, you'll enjoy the satisfaction of being in control of your own living space, your property, and your level of privacy. With few exceptions, if you choose to erect fences, plant privacy hedges, or build a screened-in back porch, that's your prerogative.
In the not-so-distant past, you may have felt as if your privacy was not as absolute as you might have preferred. Even though landlords and apartment managers are usually required by state law to give tenants 24 to 48 hours notice before entering the premises for an inspection or maintenance visit, some are not aware of their obligation. Unfortunately, there are also inconsiderate landlords who don't want to be bothered with things like advance notice requirements. That potential problem can be even more of an issue if the landlord happens to live downstairs or next door!
When you're a renter, landlords do generally have a right of entry, which, according to rental agreements, can be for repairs, alterations, improvements or "any reasonable purpose." If the end of your lease is approaching, your landlord may also appear at your door to show your rental unit to prospective tenants, real estate agents, appraisers, and others. Although many tenants do not encounter problems with landlords, the fact that they do have a right to access to your apartment, condo, or rented house is enough to make you feel uneasy!
The minute you become a homeowner, however, those uncomfortable privacy issues become a thing of the past. You no longer have to answer to a landlord, and -- unless there are restrictive zoning laws or Home Owner Association (HOA) rules -- you and your spouse are the ones who call the shots. While it's wise to be considerate of your neighbors and aware of local ordinances, you are free to own pets, throw parties, sleep on waterbeds, have long-term guests, and make changes to your house, your yard, and your property, as you see fit.
While pets are okay, farm animals may not be so acceptable! If your goal is to raise chickens, goats, or horses on your property, you might encounter some potential stumbling blocks. It does depend on a number of factors, such as whether you're in a rural area and if the land is agriculturally zoned. Your real estate agent, attorney, or town clerk would probably be the best sources of information when it comes to questions like that.
Generally speaking, however, property owners do have a lot of leeway on how they can use their property, as long as they observe local laws, be respectful of their neighbors, keep noise levels down to "a dull roar," and maintain a semblance of order in their front yard!