The question sometimes arises whether a residential landlord in California can enter the property being rented by a tenant. Many residential landlords in California are individuals who don’t have to go through any licensing or exam before renting their property. They often don’t wonder about questions like this until a particular situation presents itself and they, for instance, need to get in to the property and wonder if they can.
As with any landlord-tenant question in California, there are two preliminary questions that you need to ask:
- First, does the city or county in which the rental property is have any laws or ordinances that address this question. Most cities and counties in California do not have rent control ordinances and laws, but some do and they are all different. The only way to know whether your city or county has a rent control ordinance or law is to look and then, if you find one, to look at what the ordinance or law says.
- Second, is there a written lease in effect at the time that describes the landlord’s right to enter on to the property? Most residential leases I have seen in California do not, but every lease is different so the only way to know, is to check yours.
Assuming then, that your residential lease doesn’t mention the landlord’s right to enter and there are no local laws or ordinances on the topic, the California state statute you’re going to want to look up is California Civil Code section 1954 which says the landlord can enter to:
- if there is an emergency,
- to make improvements or repairs that the tenant has agreed to,
- when the tenant has abandoned the property, or
- pursuant to court order.
Civil Code section 1954 goes on to provide that:
- Landlord may only enter during normal business hours, unless tenant consents otherwise or is present during the entry, there is an emergency, or tenant has surrendered the premises.
- Landlord must give reasonable notice of their intent to enter. 24 hour notice is presumed to be reasonable. In my experience, this 24 hour notice thing is a common question. If the notice is mailed, however, 6 calendar days is presumed reasonable.
- If the property is being sold, the landlord needs to give at least 120 days notice that the property is being listed for sale and that prospective buyers may be viewing the property.
- The tenant may give oral permission to the landlord for the landlord to enter as long as the landlord does so within 1 week of the giving of oral permission.
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