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Landlord’s Right To Enter Rental Property In California

A typical landlord-tenant conflict is landlords’ rights to enter rental property vs. tenant privacy rights. To avoid problems, it is essential to have fair (and legal) policies that describe the conditions (such as doing repairs) under which the landlord may legally enter leased premises.

Tenants have the right to privacy in their rental unit, which is safeguarded by landlord-tenant law. This right applies to all rental premises, such as decks, balconies, yards, and garages, which are included in the rental agreement. 

Many states have adopted laws governing when and how landlords may access rental property lawfully. Other states may not have tenant privacy laws explicitly protecting tenant privacy rights, but their appellate courts may have ruled in favor of tenants’ privacy rights. 

The first step in settling a dispute is to see whether the lease provides any details about the issue. A landlord-tenant attorney in San Francisco, CA, can review the lease agreement and see whether the problem is quickly resolved.

Call us now to schedule an appointment for our attorney to review your lease. Experienced legal advice in the San Francisco area can help you find a solution and advise you on other real estate concerns.

California Laws Regarding Landlord Access to Property

Even in the absence of legislation, landlords in all states may enter a rental property without providing notice to deal with a real emergency (an urgent and significant danger to health, safety, or property) or when the tenant has abandoned the property. Likewise, when and how landlords may access rental property in non-emergency situations is addressed under California law.

California Landlord Entry Without Prior Notice

According to California law, a landlord may enter the property without prior notice if:

  • An emergency arises, necessitating landlord entry into the property (a fire, for example);
  • Obtained prior approval from the tenant;
  • The tenant had abandoned the premises; or
  • A court order is issued to the landlord.

California Landlord Entry With A Written Advance Notice

Landlord’s right to enter rental property Under the following circumstances, a landlord may enter a tenants unit with proper written “advance notice”:

  • to carry out agreed-on or required repairs, upgrades, or adjustments;
  • to show contractors or employees around the rented premises;
  • show the leased property to lenders;
  • show the rental premises to a prospective buyer or prospective renters; or
  • hold a pre-moving-out inspection to check for damages before the property owner returns the tenant’s security deposit.

What Is The California Definition Of “Advance Notice”?

California state law has not defined “advance notice.” Nonetheless, the law requires “reasonable” advance notice. Thus, most legal experts agree that 24 hours is reasonable notice.

In addition, California legal professionals believe that the first move-out inspection needs at least 48 hours of advance notice.

What Are The Requirements Of The Written Notice Of Entry Under California Law?

The written Notice of Entry must include the day and time the landlord (or representatives) intends to enter the premises, as well as the purpose of the entry (California Civil Code 1954(d)).

The written notice of entry must be one of the following:

  • Delivered to the tenant personally; or
  • Dropped off near the customary entrance to the premises, where a reasonable person may discover it; or
  • The properties were left with a person of suitable age and judgment.
  • If the landlord sends the written entry notice to the tenant’s known address, the postmark must be at least six days before the entry date.

Entry must take place within regular business hours.

How to Avoid Abuse of Your Right to Entry In California

The “abuse” of your right to entry is prohibited under California law. Harassment or urging your tenant to leave before the lease contract ends are examples of “abuse.”

When you send someone over to your property two or three times a day for reasons that aren’t true is harassment, even if you have given your tenant early written notice.

Too many phone calls requesting permission to enter are also deemed harassment.

Abuse also involves entering the property without proper notice, cause, or permission.

If you believe you need to access the property, consult with your tenant first.

Abusive actions may result in a lawsuit against you for illegal entry, which is punishable by a civil penalty of up to $2,000 per offense. In addition, your tenant may claim psychological distress to get more money.

Furthermore, accessing your tenant’s premises without permission or legitimate cause is considered criminal trespass, which may result in arrest.

How to Reasonably Believe Your Tenant Abandoned Your Rental Property in California

To defend yourself against an abuse allegation, you must have reasonable proof that your tenant abandoned the rental property you relied upon before entering.

Reasonable proof of abandonment includes the following:

  • Neighbors say that your tenant informed them that they had moved out.
  • Neighbors claim to have seen the tenant move out.
  • Utilities have been shut off.
  • Your tenant changed their address with the post office; or
  • You filed a notice to vacate on your tenant, but they did not respond by the deadline.

Termination And Eviction Rules In California

When and how a landlord may terminate a tenancy are governed by state law. For example, a California landlord may issue an unconditional quit notice to a tenant who has been assigning or subletting without authorization, giving the tenant three days to vacate the premises before the landlord can file for eviction.

Unpaid Rent

The landlord must give the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or quit (move) before they may file an eviction case in California if the tenant fails to pay the rent on time. If the tenant does not pay the rent or vacate the premises within three days, the landlord can file a lawsuit.

Violation Of Lease

For example, suppose a tenant in California violates a lease provision by keeping an animal that is not allowed in violation of a no-pets policy. The landlord must give the renter three days’ notice to fix the problem or vacate the rental unit. If the tenant does not correct the problem or vacate the premises within three days, the landlord can file a lawsuit against them.

Unconditional Quit Notice

When tenants sublease the rental unit without permission, create a nuisance, or participate in illegal activity at the rental unit, landlords in California may issue a three-day unconditional quit notice, meaning that the tenant does not have the option to rectify the situation.

Take Action Now to Defend Your Landlord Rights in San Francisco!

Landlords need to understand and stand up for their rights when dealing with tenants. Our goal is to help landlords in San Francisco who are dealing with unruly and troublesome renters. As a landlord, you can count on our competent San Francisco landlord attorneys at Steven Adair MacDonald & Partners, P.C., to fight for your rights and interests.

We can also assist you with legal difficulties about renting out your property to a tenant, lease agreements, evictions, property maintenance, and other real estate-related concerns. 

Our legal services are of the highest quality. Please make an appointment with us right away to discuss your needs!

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