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A LANDLORD’S RIGHT OF ENTRY


Introduction

    The right of a landlord to enter a rental dwelling is not unrestricted. California law specifies that an apartment of other rental unit may be entered by a landlord only under certain conditions. A landlord may not enter just to check up on the tenant. This article will explore those specific instances and will also discuss when and if prior notice to the tenant is required.


When can a landlord enter your home?

Consent of the renter

    Since the rental unit is your home, you certainly have the right to invite your landlord inside just as you would any other guest. In most cases, the relationship between the landlord and tenant is a good one and legal formalities can be waived. A reasonable landlord will just explain to the tenant why he wants to come in and will usually be invited in or a reasonable accommodation will be made. As long as both parties are reasonable and respect each other's rights and responsibilities, this is often the preferred way of handling the matter.


An emergency

    A landlord has the right to enter an apartment in the case of an emergency. An emergency would be some situation where immediate action is required to protect a life or to prevent the destruction of property. Typically, these situations include things like a fire, or gas and water leaks.


Needed repairs

    A landlord is allowed to enter your home to made any needed repairs and to perform required maintenance. This would also include the right of the landlord to inspect the property to assess the need for the repairs.


Showing the property

    The landlord may also enter in order to show the property to prospective new tenants or purchasers.


Court order

    A landlord may enter a unit if he has a court order allowing him to do so. The reasons a court might issue such an order are varied but in most cases a hearing is required and you would likely receive legal papers notifying you of the hearing in advance. Should you ever receive legal papers of this type, it would wise to consult with an attorney immediately.


Abandonment

    The landlord also has the right to enter an apartment that has been abandoned by the tenant.


What notice are you entitled to?

    In California, you are entitled to a reasonable amount of notice before the landlord enters your apartment. The courts have legally interpreted this to mean 24 hours notice. The law does provide for shorter notice in rare cases when it can be shown that 24 hours notice is impracticable. I cases of emergency and abandonment, prior notice is not required. I the case of entry pursuant to court order, the judge will specify what notice, if any, need be given.


Is the landlord's entry restricted to certain hours?

    Except in cases tenant consent, emergency or abandonment, the landlord must enter during normal business hours.


What if the landlord violates these laws?

    The answer to this depends on the circumstances, which can vary greatly. In some cases, you may be able to break your lease and move out by claiming that repeated violations constitute to a "constructive eviction. In cases where the violations seriously interferes with your peace of mind, you may have grounds for a lawsuit. If you feel your rights might have been violated, you should discuss the matter with an attorney before taking any action yourself.


What if I refuse to allow entry?

    A landlord may not force entry unless there is a true emergency. If you are unreasonable in denying the landlord entry, he can legally enter anyway, if he does so in a peaceful manner. In many cases he can also evict you. Preventing the landlord from entering in am emergency situation can also make you liable for damages to the property resulting from the landlord's inability to handle the emergency because of your action. Once again, if you have any concerns about what your rights might be, you should discuss the matter with an attorney before taking any action.


A Final Word

    The information contained in this article is not intended to be a complete discussion of all the issues related to the areas discussed. Your personal situation may be different and you should seek the legal advice of an attorney regarding specific information. Ken Koury is experienced in representing both tenants and landlord in a variety of legal matters.


Copyright 1995-2012 by Attorney Ken Koury.