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THE LANDLORD'S RIGHT TO ENTER RENTAL UNIT

Often during a residential tenancy the landlord needs to enter the rental unit for legitimate reasons such as to make necessary repairs.

The landlord has the lawful right under California Civil Code section 1954 to enter the home to show it to prospective realtors, prospective purchasers, contractors, workers, appraisers and lenders. Unless other arrangements have been worked out cooperatively between the landlord and the tenant, the landlord must first give reasonable advance written notice of the purpose in entering and the date and approximate time. Twenty-four hours advance notice is considered reasonable if the notice is delivered by hand. If mailed, the notice should be given six days in advance (reasonable exceptions might be available on a case-by-case basis). If delivered by hand, the notice may be left the notice with anyone of suitable age and discretion at the residence. If no such person is available, the notice may by served by putting it under the door, on the door, or near the door in a place where it is likely to be seen.

Unless the tenant agrees otherwise the landlord has the right to enter only during “normal business hours.” The meaning of “normal business hours” is often disputed. The tenant could not reasonably dispute entry during the hours from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, realtors and other professionals regularly do business on Saturdays and Sundays, including “open houses.” Ideally the landlord will hire an experience real estate broker who will negotiate mutually-agreeable terms for showing the unit for sale.

If the landlord intends to show the unit to prospective purchasers, he or she may notify the tenant in writing that the house is for sale and that the landlord intends to exercise the right to contact the tenant orally to give notice. In that event, the landlord or agent may give oral notice 24 hours in advance, and then leave written evidence of the visit within the home. The right to enter based on oral notice continues for 120 days after the above-described initial written notice.

The law states that the landlord may not abuse the right of entry or use it to harass the tenant. The tenant might have a legitimate complaint if the landlord or agent attempts to enter very frequently or without giving sufficient advance notice.