When a person is staying in a hotel room, they usually expect a certain amount of privacy, as long as they follow the rules. However that privacy only goes to a certain extent. There are some people who are allowed to enter a guest’s hotel room whether they’re there or not, and others who are not allowed in (except under specific circumstances).
Who Are Allowed?
Hotel management and staff are allowed to enter your room if you’re not present. After all, it’s legally their property – you’re just renting the room. You can refuse housekeeping if you’d prefer, but if the hotel people need to get in because of a maintenance or safety issue, they will, even if you’re not in there. Hopefully, they’ll tell you ahead of time (i.e. “We’re going to replace that light bulb that’s out that you told us about” or “We think there’s a leak coming from your shower and we need to check it out”), and hopefully, if they tell you they need to go in and you ask them not to, they’ll comply (although for that shower example, maybe not so much). But they’re under no obligation to do so because, again, it’s their property.
Many hotels also do a daily check of each hotel room, just to make sure everything is OK. This policy became more common after the 2017 Las Vegas shooting. The shooter had stockpiled weapons in his room for a week before he started shooting at people from his room at the Mandalay Bay. Had someone been checking the room, that tragedy possibly could have been avoided.
I remember a few months after that horrific event, Disneyland and Walt Disney World changed out their “Do Not Disturb” signs for “Room Occupied” hangtags, precisely because they started checking all rooms daily, whether hotel guests had requested daily housekeeping or not (Disney has sometimes offered incentives if you opt-out). Some people were NOT HAPPY (more like Grumpy, LOL! I’ll be here all week. Try the veal!) and were concerned hotel staff was going to rummage through their belongings.
Which brings me to another point – while hotel staff is in there, they’re not allowed to go through your stuff. Their attention should only be on why they’re there – to fix the dripping faucet, to check out a complaint that someone said they thought you were smoking, etc.
Oh, and about those Do Not Disturb signs? Legally, they’re just a request; the hotel isn’t obligated to follow what’s on the sign (going back to the Las Vegas shooting, the suspect has his DND sign on his door for the week before he went on his shooting rampage).
Who Aren’t Allowed?
The police. Well, unless they have a search warrant with probable cause (thank-you, 4th Amendment to the Constitution), or have a valid emergency exception that exists, such as an immediate grave threat to someone’s life, the likelihood that a criminal will escape, or evidence of a crime will be lost or destroyed.
They also can’t ask the hotel staff to open the room for them.
There are, of course, all kinds of exceptions, and exceptions to the exceptions :-). These vary from state to state and sometimes even county to county. But IN GENERAL, just like your home, the police can’t enter your room without a warrant.
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