Written by attorney Marc Paul Branco

Landlord's Right to Enter Tenant's Dwelling Unit

Although the Implied Warranty of Quiet Enjoyment, protects a tenant from a landlord’s invasive and unnecessary intrusion into a tenant’s dwelling unit, there are circumstances when the landlord does have the right to enter a tenant’s dwelling unit. A landlord’s statutory right to enter a tenant’s dwelling unit can be found in Cal. Civ. Code §1954.

A landlord may only enter a tenant’s dwelling unit in the following cases:

  • In the case of an emergency; or
  • To make necessary or agreed repairs or alterations to the premises
  • To exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective buyers, tenants, or contractors; or
  • To make an inspection pursuant to Cal. Civ. Code 1950.5(f); or
  • When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises; or
  • Pursuant to a court order; or
  • When the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of the entry.

Furthermore, a landlord may only enter a tenant’s unit during normal business hours, and may not use his/her right of entry to harass a tenant.

Notice Requirement

A landlord must give a tenant notice in writing of his/her intent to enter the unit. The notice should state:

  1. The purpose of the entry; and
  2. The date of entry; and
  3. The approximate time of the entry

The notice should be posted at least 24 hours before the entry. It can be personally delivered, left with someone of a suitable age, or left near the entry door of the premises in a place reasonably discoverable by the tenant. The notice can also be mailed to the tenant, the mailing of the notice should occur six days before the date of entry.

Occurrences When Notice is not required

A landlord need not give a tenant notice to enter the tenant’s dwelling if:

  • The landlord is responding to an emergency; or
  • The tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of the entry; or
  • After the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.

Landlord’s Abuse of Entry / Landlord’s Entry without Notice or other legal grounds

A landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass a tenant. Cal. Civ. Code 1954. Such abuse subjects a landlord to a suit for breach of the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment, and/or Trespass. It is also unlawful for a landlord to commit a significant and intentional violation of Cal. Civ. Code 1954 for the purpose of influencing a tenant to vacate a dwelling, such behavior entitles a tenant to obtain a civil penalty from the landlord of up to $2,000 for the violation. Cal. Civ. Code 1940.2(4), (b).

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