Once you rent an apartment, the unit is yours. You are entitled to a great deal of freedom and privacy within your apartment, with only specific limitations and exceptions. For instance, you are entitled to determine who comes in and out of your unit. You control your guests. Meanwhile, your landlord, despite being the unit’s owner, has lost his or her right to the unit. Your landlord cannot come and go from your unit as he or she pleases. However, your landlord may not explain that to you. Many California landlords try and take advantage of a tenant’s lack of knowledge to snoop around or harass tenants and their guests.
When Your Landlord can Enter Your Apartment
For your landlord to be able to come into your apartment, there must either be a valid, lawful reason or you have to give your consent. Your landlord has the right to enter your unit without your permission only if:
- There is an emergency, or
- To inspect, repair, or show the apartment after giving reasonable advanced notice.
If your landlord says he or she came into your apartment for an emergency, there must have been a truly urgent situation or crisis that had to be addressed as quickly as possible. This could include there being a broken pipe that was flooding the apartment or a fire.
If your landlord wants to enter the apartment to inspect it, make a repair, or show it to prospective tenants, then he or she is required by law to give you reasonable notice and to come in during normal business hours, which are Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. California law presumes that 24 hours’ notice is a reasonable amount. In almost all situations, the notice must be in writing and give you a date and reasonable range of time that the landlord is going to be in the apartment.
There is also another way for your landlord to lawfully enter your apartment, and that is if you give him or her permission. The landlord has every right to ask if he or she can come into your apartment at some future date or time. If it is not a reasonable amount of notice and only an oral request, you have the right to say no. You can politely remind your landlord you require at least 24 hour notice in writing before he or she can enter. However, you also have the right to say yes and allow your landlord to enter the apartment without 24-hour written notice.
When Your Landlord cannot Enter Your Apartment
Your landlord cannot enter your apartment without providing you written notice at least 24 hours in advance or without an emergency. This means your landlord cannot:
- Let him or herself into the unit at any time
- Show up at your door and demand to be let into the unit
- Demand to be let into your home after providing only oral or e-mail notice, no matter how far in advance
- Demand to enter your unit after providing written notice less than 24 hours in advance
What can You do if Your Landlord Unlawfully Enters Your Apartment?
It can be extremely difficult to deal with a landlord who unlawfully enters your apartment. The first step you should take is to write a letter to your landlord regarding the unlawful entry, including a reminder of California law and your entitlement to file a legal claim against him or her. If your landlord ignores tis letter and unlawfully enters your unit again, contact the experienced tenants’ rights attorneys of Brod Law Firm right away. You may be entitled to file a civil claim against your landlord and recover compensation.
(image courtesy of Antonina Bukowska)