Having a random stranger walk into your home without your permission can easily put you in a vulnerable and scary position. Is it illegal to walk into someone’s house though?
Walking into someone else’s house is illegal and can be considered criminal trespassing. If you find a stranger in your house, do not attempt to forcibly remove or confront them. Call the police immediately and get to safety while you wait for them to arrive.
In this article, we will discuss whether or not someone can enter your home without your permission, as well as the circumstances where this may be perfectly legal.
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Can Someone Enter Your Home Without Permission?
The short answer to this question is no, nobody can enter your home without permission. You could be someone who experienced this firsthand; you may have witnessed your neighbor do this to another neighbor, or perhaps, you are planning to do this to others as well.
Whatever the case, the thing to keep in mind is that entering someone’s property or home without permission or without any invitation is unacceptable.
Laws vary by state, but usually, being in someone else’s property without permission can be considered either a home invasion or burglary (if there’s an intent to commit crime like stealing) or trespass (no intention of committing crime).
What to Do if Someone Walks Into Your House
So what if a neighbor walked into my house without me inviting them beforehand? What can I do? There are many things you can do but this also depends on who you’re dealing with. It could be a random stranger, which you need to be cautious of.
It could also be your neighbor who wandered into your house, a family member you haven’t seen for ages, neighbors wandering onto your property to use your pool, or just someone you know that showed up uninvited.
In any case, if someone just walked into my house, I’d keep the tips below in mind:
- If it’s your neighbor or a stranger who wanders into your unlocked front door and is obviously confused, you can be polite enough to walk them out and then shut the door.
- It’s a different story when someone breaks your door or window to gain entry to your home. In this case, drop the friendly persona; you could either hide, or escape to safety and/or then call the police.
- If it’s someone you know – perhaps a relative or a friend you don’t want to talk to, you can just tell them off.
- If it’s someone who poses an imminent threat based on demeanor (and sometimes clothing), take all necessary precautions. Be ready to call for help.
- To prevent this from happening again in the future, make sure that you keep your doors locked at all times. You can also put up a “No Trespassing” sign on your yard and have a security camera conspicuously placed on your property.
Meanwhile, if you’re the one walking into someone’s house uninvited, expect that you may also experience the scenarios above. After all, it’s not easy having to deal with a stranger walking into your home.
Who Can Enter Your Property Without Permission?
You might think that just because you’re safe at home and that there’s a law about trespassing, you can’t have anyone coming into your house or getting on your property without your permission. There are instances when a homeowner’s permission is not required. Below is a list of some of them:
- Family members living with you – obviously, they don’t need your permission to go inside your home if you’re away since they live with you. However, if you’re not on good terms with that person, or if you’ve been separated, it can still be considered trespassing.
- Landlord – the landlord may own the building you’re living in, but he doesn’t have the right to go into your unit whenever he/she pleases – unless for emergency and repair concerns.
- Emergency personnel – The fire service, medical first responders, or even a passerby can go into your home without your permission if there’s a life-and-death situation. A stranger can legally go in if the intent is to save someone’s life, such as pulling a person out of a burning home.
- The police – The police need a warrant to enter or search your home. This should be in the form of writing rather than just a verbal request to let them in. However, they can still enter your home by force and without a warrant if something dangerous is already happening inside your home or on the property.
- Utility workers – Utility companies usually don’t need your permission when they need to enter your property for repairs and checks.
What Can You Do if Someone Trespasses on Your Property?
There are instances where people step foot on your land, wandering and not intentionally staying there. But trespassing may not be just about walking into your property or home. It can also be many things, such as, but not limited to:
- People gathering on your land
- Illegally dumping trash on your land
- Using a portion of your land as a shortcut
If you’ve experienced any of the situations mentioned above, the first thing you need to do is to put up a “No Trespassing sign“. This should help discourage people from going near your property.
You may also want to consider installing a security system like the highly popular and DIY Ring Security System. At the very least it’ll probably be a good idea to setup some indoor security cameras, as well as outdoor security cameras to deter potential trespassers from stepping foot on your property.
Ring Video Doorbells are insanely popular as well, and have been a lifesaver for many owners. These work great if you do decide to press charges, as you’ll have proof to provide the courts that shows the perpetrator entering your house, or coming onto your property.
If they refuse to leave even after having told them to go away, you can tell them you’re calling the police. You can also inform the cops that you’re willing to press charges, just make sure you have proof of the trespassing such as video footage.
If, for some reason, the police will not file charges, you can simply do it on your own. Hire a lawyer to help you out. More importantly, trespassing laws differ from state to state so make sure you do your research about specific laws in your area.
What you need to keep in mind is that you cannot intentionally harm or detain a trespasser just for being on your property. This means that it’s not a good idea to shoot them, shoot over their heads to threaten them or let out your trained dogs to attack them.
You may physically let them out of the premises, but not use unreasonable force to get your point across.
Entering House Without Permission With Key
What if someone had a key to your home and still got in without permission? Is this still considered as breaking and entering? The answer is yes.
Just because you have a key to a house that’s not yours doesn’t mean you can use it whenever you want – especially if you have the intent to commit a crime.
You need to own the key for it to be yours. In such a case where you used it at someone’s house without permission, that only means the key is not yours. A key may be in your possession if you found it elsewhere and if you used this without permission, it’s still breaking and entering.
How to Charge Someone With Trespassing?
Homeowners whose privacy has been violated have the right to file a case against a trespasser. If you want to press charges, make sure you know the person or you have their photo or video. You may need to elaborate the details of when the trespass occurred.
As the complainant, you will receive the no-trespass order. You will also be informed about the progress of the case, such as when the trespasser has decided to enter a plea, pay a fine, or would rather attend trial.
Conclusion: Is It Illegal To Walk Into Someone’s House?
There’s nothing wrong with being extra cautious when it comes to your own safety and privacy. Being at home should make you feel safe but you can’t erase the possibilities of having an intruder in your home or having your privacy violated.
The first thing to do when someone walks into your home is to ask them to get out and leave. If they refuse to do so, you can call the police or you can physically get them out.
Just remember not to willingly injure them. If the person accidentally wanders into your home, this would not be considered a criminal trespass.
If someone breaks and enters your home, that’s a different story. Be prepared for the worst and be ready to call for help.
In any case, if trespassing has always been an issue for you, remember to keep your doors locked at all times. It would also help to put up a “No Trespassing” sign on your land. You may also take the time and use resources to put up home security features.
Hopefully, the tips from the article will help you prepare and give you knowledge on what you can do should you have someone uninvited walk into your home.