Sat. May 25th, 2024

Landlord’s Right to Entry in California

The 24 HOUR NOTICE

Legal Reasons for Entry

  • Inspections
  • Improvements (incl. decoration)
  • Maintenance
  • Property Showings
  • Emergencies

Notice Requirement

  • Usually 24 Hours, Written
  • Verbal for Some Repairs
  • None Needed for Emergencies

Penalties for Illegal Entry

  • Court Injunction
  • Cost of Damages
  • Civil Fines
  • Breaking the Lease
  • Court + Legal Fees

 

Does a Landlord Have the Right To Enter a Rental Property in California?

California landlords have the right to enter a rental property for any of the following reasons:  [1]

  • Inspecting the property.
  • Making improvements (including decorations).
  • Repairing or maintaining the property.
  • Showing the property.
  • Resolving an emergency.
  • Complying with a court order.

 

Can a Landlord Enter Without Permission in California?

California landlords can legally enter a rental property without permission. Notice requirements still apply, but permission isn’t needed to enter for inspection, improvements, repair, showings, emergencies, or compliance with a court process. [1]

Can a Landlord Enter Without the Tenant Present in California?

California landlords can enter without the tenant present. The tenant only needs to be present if the landlord wants to enter without notice for a non-emergency situation. [1]   [2]   3]

Can a Landlord Show a House While Occupied in California?

California landlords can show an occupied house by giving proper notice. However, they must leave written evidence of entry for the renter after every showing; landlords will often leave a business card, for example. [1] [5]

How Often Can Landlords Conduct Routine Inspections in California?

California landlords have no specific limit on how often they can enter for inspections. The landlord isn’t allowed to enter unreasonably often, but what’s reasonable gets decided case by case.[1] [5]

How Much Notice Does a Landlord Need To Provide in California?

California landlords have to provide 24 hours of advance notice by default, unless there’s an emergency or the renter is present and agrees to the entry. For any longer or shorter notice periods, there must be evidence why the usual requirements shouldn’t apply.   [2]  [5]

Can a Landlord Enter Without Notice in California?

California landlords can only enter without notice in an emergency, unless the renter is present and agrees to the entry. [3]

How Can Landlords Notify Tenants of an Intention To Enter in California?

California landlords have to deliver written notice at least 24 hours in advance in most cases. This can be mailed at least six days before intended entry, or posted on the rental property rather than given by hand. The notice must describe the purpose and approximate time for entry.  [2]

The landlord and renter can also agree verbally to entry for maintenance or services within one week. In that case, the 24-hour notice can be verbal. Verbal notice is also an option for property showings, up to four months after delivering written notice that the property is for sale. [4] [6]

Can a Tenant Refuse Entry to a Landlord in California?

California tenants can refuse entry to a landlord in the following non-emergency situations:[1]  [2]  [5]

 

  • There’s an invalid reason.
  • It’s not during business hours (8 AM-5 PM).
  • Proper notice wasn’t given.

A tenant can’t refuse entry to a landlord if it’s an emergency, or there’s been proper notice for one of the following intentions:

  • Inspecting the property.
  • Making improvements (including decorations).
  • Repairing or maintaining the property.
  • Showing the property.
  • Compliance with a court order (usually as part of an eviction).

 

What Happens If the Tenant Illegally Refuses Entry to the Landlord in California?

California landlords who are illegally refused entry can get a court injunction to force access, or deliver a three-day notice to comply and threaten the tenant with eviction. [7]

Can a Tenant Change the Locks Without Permission in California?

California tenants can change locks without permission if the lease doesn’t say otherwise. Note that the landlord still has a right to enter for specific reasons, so it’s recommended that renters provide copies of current keys. [1]

What Can a Tenant Do If the Landlord Enters Illegally in California?

California tenants have the following options when the landlord enters illegally: [8] [9]

  • Get a court order preventing further entry.
  • Move out and cancel the rental agreement (for severe violations that prevent ordinary use of the property).
  • Sue to recover damages.
  • Sue for a civil penalty (for “significant and intentional” violations).

Sources

  • 1 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954(a) (2021)

    “A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases: (1) In case of emergency. (2) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5 [initial inspection prior to move-out]. (3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises. (4) Pursuant to court order. (5) For the purposes set forth in Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1954.201) [water-related inspections and improvements]. (6) To comply with the provisions of Article 2.2 (commencing with Section 17973) of Chapter 5 of Part 1.5 of Division 13 of the Health and Safety Code [flood/earthquake-proofing inspections and improvements].” Source Link 

  • 2 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954(d)(1) (2021)

    “Except as provided in subdivision (e), or as provided in paragraph (2) or (3) [i.e.: property showings, tenant consenting to entry, and emergencies], the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. The notice may be personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice. Twenty-four hours shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.” Source Link 

  • 3 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954 (2021)

    No notice of entry is required under this section: (1) To respond to an emergency. (2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.” Source Link 

  • 4 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954(d)(2) (2021)

    “If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above. Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit. Source Link 

  • 5 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954(b) & (c) (2021)

    “Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, entry may not be made during other than normal business hours [8AM-5PM] unless the tenant consents to an entry during other than normal business hours… [additionally,] the landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant. Source Link 

  • 6 Cal. Civ. Code § 1954(d)(3) (2021)

    “The tenant and the landlord may agree orally to an entry to make agreed repairs or supply agreed services. The agreement shall include the date and approximate time of the entry, which shall be within one week of the agreement. In this case, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant a written notice. Source Link 

  • 7 Cal. Civ. Pro. § 1161(3) (2021)

    “A tenant … is guilty of unlawful detainer: …When the tenant continues in possession, in person or by subtenant, after a neglect or failure to perform other conditions or covenants of the lease… and three days’ notice, excluding Saturdays and Sundays and other judicial holidays, in writing, requiring the performance of those conditions or covenants, or the possession of the property, shall have been served upon the tenant[.] … [The tenant] may perform the conditions or covenants of the lease or pay the stipulated rent, as the case may be, and thereby save the lease from forfeiture; provided, if the conditions and covenants of the lease, violated by the lessee, cannot afterward be performed, then no notice, as last prescribed herein, need be given to the lessee or the subtenant, demanding the performance of the violated conditions or covenants of the lease.” Source Link 

  • 8 Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.2 (2021)

    • “(a) It is unlawful for a landlord to do any of the following for the purpose of influencing a tenant to vacate a dwelling: …
    • “(4) Commit a significant and intentional violation of Section 1954 [tenant’s right to only endure the landlord’s specific, lawful entry]. …
    • “(b) A tenant who prevails in a civil action, including an action in small claims court, to enforce his or her rights under this section is entitled to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed two thousand dollars ($2,000) for each violation.” Source Link 
  • 9 Groh v. Kover’s Bull Pen, Inc., 221 Cal. App. 2d 611, (1963)

    “A constructive eviction occurs when the acts or omissions to act of a landlord, or any disturbance or interference with the tenant’s possession by the landlord, renders the premises, or a substantial portion thereof, unfit for the purposes for which they were leased, or has the effect of depriving the tenant for a substantial period of time of the beneficial enjoyment or use of the premises.” Source Link 

 

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides that “[n]o person shall be … deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.”

 

Steps a Landlord Must Take Before Entering Your Home

Civ. Code § 1954 states that a landlord may enter a tenant’s home in the following situations:

► In case of emergency.

► To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5.

► When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.

► Pursuant to court order.

► For the purposes set forth in Chapter 2.5 (commencing with Section 1954.201).

► To comply with the provisions of Article 2.2 (commencing with Section 17973) of Chapter 5 of Part 1.5 of Division 13 of the Health and Safety Code.

Civ. Code § 1954 further states “[t]he landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.”

Even if the landlord’s entry fits into one of categories above, the landlord is required in most situations to provide “proper” and “reasonable” notice regarding the entry.

HOW LONG BEFORE ENTRY IS NOTICE REQUIRED?

Civ. Code §1954 states that 24-hours’ notice prior to entry “shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the contrary.” This means that notice is required at least 24-hours prior to the desired entry by the landlord unless your lease provides otherwise.

ARE THERE OTHER RESTRICTIONS ON WHEN MY LANDLORD CAN ENTER?

Yes. The entry must be during “normal business hours.” (Civ. Code § 1954 (c).)

WHAT MUST BE INCLUDED IN THE NOTICE?

Civ. Code § 1954 requires that “[t]he notice include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry.”

HOW MUST THE NOTICE BE SERVED?

The notice can be (1) personally delivered to the tenant; (2) left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice.

“The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.”

CAN ME AND MY LANDLORD AGREE TO ENTRY WITHOUT NOTICE?

Yes. Tenants and landlords may agree to entry at a time and in a manner that does not conform with the requirements above.

ARE THERE ANY SITUATIONS WHERE NOTICE IS NOT REQUIRED?

Yes. Civ. Code § 1954 (e) states that no notice is required in the following situations:

► To respond to an emergency.

► If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.

► After the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.

 

►Waterbeds and Smoke Detectors

The law also affords two other limited reasons for entry into the resident’s dwelling unit: to periodically inspect smoke alarms and to inspect waterbeds for compliance with state law.

For waterbed inspections, the law specifically provides that “… the owner, or the owner’s agent, shall have the right to inspect the bedding installation upon completion, and periodically thereafter, to insure its conformity with this section.” It is wise to specifically address these issues in the lease and clearly define what rights the owner or manager has in regard to entering the rented unit.

►Time of Entry

Time of entry unless in an emergency is also limited to normal business hours. Most judges construe “business hours” to mean between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, although an argument can be made that for leasing agents and property owners and managers, Saturdays and Sundays are normal “business hours.”

Court Order

PUNK TENNANT complaining about him needing fixes but not letting you in to repair! no worries. go to court!

The fourth and final category allows entry by the owner when the entry is pursuant to a court order. This implies that the owner or manager cannot engage in self‑help if the resident refuses entry, even in cases where the owner is completely within their rights for the entry. Instead, the owner or manager must seek a court order prior to entry. To enforce the order, the Marshal or Sheriff would meet the owner at the premises to allow safe entry into the dwelling unit.

►Abandonment

The third category allows an owner or manager to enter onto the premises “when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.” It is not unusual to experience a resident who either moved out in the middle of the night or has indicated that he or she was moving but did not give final confirmation of the vacancy.

Abandonment, as defined by Black’s Law Dictionary, means that there must be “. . . an absolute relinquishment of the premises by the tenant consisting of act and intention.” These are sensitive issues and a look at the total circumstances is warranted before a decision to enter should be made. It is often difficult to determine if the tenant has abandoned the premises without taking a look inside. If there are objective facts which would lead a reasonable person to believe that the tenant had abandoned the premises, then you may enter based upon the belief of abandonment unless, of course, there is any indication that the tenant has not abandoned or surrendered the unit.

►Repairs, services, showing

The second category allows owners or their agents to enter into the premises to make necessary or agreed repairs or services or show the premises to prospective tenants or purchasers. This category also allows mortgagees, workmen and contractors to enter the premises.

Since the owner is responsible to keep the premises in a habitable condition, the owner may need access to the interior of the unit to maintain the unit’s habitable condition and should be able to make periodic inspections for specific purposes, i.e. to inspect electrical or plumbing fixtures in accordance with industry standards. Entry for “general inspections” is not listed in the categories of permissible reasons to enter.

An owner or manager may also enter the dwelling unit to make any agreed upon repairs or services. A Notice of Intent to Enter must first be delivered to the resident giving the resident “reasonable notice” of the date and time of the proposed entry. Effective January 1, 2003, requests of entry must be in writing. The notice of entry may be either personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice. We recommend posting all four corners of the notice to the main entry way.

California law requires landlords to give the tenant “reasonable notice”. The law presumes twenty-four hours is reasonable. However, if the notice is only mailed, the law presumes that six days prior to an intended entry is reasonable. The only exception is in cases of an emergency or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises. In these events, entry need not be made during normal business hours and no prior notice is necessary.

Also, if the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the unit to prospective or actual purchasers of the property, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and the tenant was informed they may be contacted to allow for an inspection. At the time of the entry, the landlord or agent is required to leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.

Although the law presumes that twenty four hours is reasonable notice, but each case should be individually examined to determine what is reasonable under the circumstances. The court would measure the notice period by what a reasonable, prudent property manager or owner would have needed in like circumstances.

►Emergencies

The first, in cases of emergency, is only permitted when there is a true emergency which effects the health or safety of the resident or the protection of the premises from damage. It must be impractical to give notice in these situations. Courts are extremely sensitive to the right of privacy of residents and will carefully scrutinize the “emergency” which led to entry by the owner or manager. Entry under this category does not require that a notice of intent to enter be given to the resident prior to entry.

 

Re-Cap

Landlord Entering Your Unit

When a landlord rents out a property to a tenant, they give up possession of the property. By law, your landlord must respect your privacy. However, a landlord does have a right to enter in certain situations. You should cooperate with your landlord if he has a valid reason to request entry.

When the landlord can enter

Your landlord can enter your rental unit for these reasons:

24-hour notice required

The landlord must give you 24-hour advance written notice before entering. The notice should state a specific time of entry, which must be during normal business hours.

Emergencies

If there is an emergency, 24-hour advance notice is not required.  For example, if your rental unit is on fire or is flooding, your landlord can enter without advance notice.

Abuse of the right to enter

The landlord cannot abuse the right of entry or use it to harass you. If you feel your landlord has abused the right of entry, you should discuss this with them. Show them this information. Ask them to provide written notice as required by law and to only enter for legitimate business purposes. If your landlord continues to violate the right to enter, you can contact the police and file a report.  You can also call us for assistance.

Civil Code 1954

County of Los Angeles Department of Consumer and Business Affairs. Last change: Dec. 1, 2013

LANDLORD’S RIGHT OF ENTRY – RESIDENTIAL

  • When can an owner “lawfully” enter a rental unit without written Notice of Entry?
  • When is written Notice of Entry required prior to an owner “lawfully” entering a rental unit?
  • What constitutes proper written Notice of Entry.”?

A landlord’s right to enter his/her rental property is set forth in Civil Code section 1954, and may be modified by terms of the written lease agreement.
Right of Entry – without notice.

Civil Code section 1954(e) provides that a landlord may only enter a rental unit without written Notice of Entry under the following limited circumstances:

1. To respond to an emergency (i.e. fire, flood or emergency repair);
2. Tenant is present and consents to the entry (i.e. agreement);
3. Tenant has (a) abandoned or (b) surrendered the rental unit.
4. The Landlord obtains a Court Order for possession.

  • To show the place to potential buyers, tenants, or repair workers.
  • If you have given permission to enter.
  • If you have abandoned the premises, or your landlord has obtained a court order.

Right of Entry – with written notice.
Civil Code section 1954(a) provides that 24-hour prior written Notice of Entry is required before a landlord can “lawfully” enter a rental unit for the following reasons:

1. To make necessary and/or agreed upon repairs or improvements;
2. To show the rental unit to prospective tenants
3. To show the rental to lenders, appraisers or contractors;
4. For a pre-move out walk-through to evaluate damage at tenant’s request.

Contents of “Written Notice of Entry.”
Civil Code 1954(c) requires that the landlord’s written Notice of Entry contain the following information:

1. Name of Tenant
2. Address of Rental Unit
3. Date of Proposed Entry
4. Time of Proposed Entry
5. Purchase of Proposed Entry.

The written Notice of Entry must be served to the tenant at least 24 hours prior to the Date of Proposed Entry.
Service of “Written Notice of Entry.”

The written Notice of Entry may be served in any of the following manners:

1. Personally delivered to the Tenant;
2. Personally delivered to someone over 18 years old at the Premises;
3. Left “on, near or under” the usual entry door in a manner most likely to be discovered by the tenant.

Alternatively, the landlord can mail the written notice to the tenant. If mailed, then the landlord must be able to show that he/she mailed the notice at least six (6) days prior to the Date of Proposed Entry.
California law does not presently allow for e-mail Notice of Entry. 120 Day Notice of Entry to Show Property to Prospective Purchasers.

Special notice rules apply when the landlord is selling the rental unit. Those special rules are found in Civil Code section 1954(d)(2) which states as follows:
“If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days … that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above.”
In other words, landlord can send a “120 Day Notice of Entry” immediately upon listing the rental unit for sale. Landlord may then simply give the tenant 24 hours oral or written notice that the rental unit will be shown to a prospective buyer. Landlord or the agent must then leave a business card after each visit during that 120 day period.

download 24 hour sample notice

 


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Learn More about property and your rights below:

Property Rights and the Constitution – The General Nature of Property Rights

Landlord’s Right to Entry in California

 

Congress should

  • pass either a joint resolution or a sense of the Congress resolution to guide federal agencies and influence courts, one that specifies the rights of property owners under the Constitution’s Takings and Due Process Clauses;
  • follow the traditional common law in defining “private property,” “public use,” and “just compensation”;
  • treat property taken through regulation the same as property taken through physical seizure; and
  • provide a single forum in which property owners may seek injunctive relief and just compensation promptly.

Suggested Reading

Bethell, Tom. The Noblest Triumph: Property and Prosperity through the Ages. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Coyle, Dennis J. Property Rights and the Constitution: Shaping Society through Land Use Regulation. Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993.

DeLong, James V. Property Matters: How Property Rights Are under Assault—And Why You Should Care. New York: Free Press, 1997.

Eagle, Steven J. “The Birth of the Property Rights Movement.” Cato Institute Policy Analysis no. 558, December 15, 2005.

———. Regulatory Takings. Charlottesville, VA: Michie Law Publishers, 1996.

Ely, James W. Jr. The Guardian of Every Other Right: A Constitutional History of Property Rights. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press, 1998.

———. “ ‘Poor Relation’ ” Once More: The Supreme Court and the Vanishing Rights of Property Owners.” 2004–2005 Cato Supreme Court Review, 2005.

Epstein, Richard A. Supreme Neglect: How to Revive Constitutional Protection for Private Property. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

———. Takings: Private Property and the Power of Eminent Domain. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985.

Locke, John. “Second Treatise of Government.” In Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. New York: Mentor, 1965.

Madison, James. “Property.” In National Gazette, March 29, 1792. Reprinted in The Papers of James Madison. vol. 14, 6 April 1791–16 March 1793, edited by Robert A. Rutland et al. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1983.

Pilon, Roger. “The Constitutional Protection of Property Rights: America and Europe.” Economic Education Bulletin 48, no. 6 (2008).

———. “Property Rights, Takings, and a Free Society.” Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy 6 (1983): 165–95.

Pipes, Richard. Property and Freedom: How through the Centuries Private Ownership Has Promoted Liberty and the Rule of Law. New York: Knopf, 1999.

Sandefur, Timothy, and Christina Sandefur. Cornerstone of Liberty: Property Rights in 21st‐​Century America. Washington: Cato Institute, 2016.

Siegan, Bernard H., ed. Planning without Prices: The Takings Clause as It Relates to Land Use Regulation without Just Compensation. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books, 1977.

———. Property and Freedom: The Constitution, the Courts, and Land‐​Use Regulation. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Press, 1997.

Somin, Ilya. The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.

 

 

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