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Can My Landlord Enter My Home Without Permission?

A tenant’s right to privacy does not necessarily mean that a landlord cannot enter your home.

When you rent a home, you are entitled to privacy. It is one of your basic rights as a tenant. However, a tenant’s right to privacy does not necessarily mean that a landlord cannot enter your home. As the property owner, the landlord has a right and often even a duty to enter the property for necessary maintenance and repairs to ensure the property is in safe, habitable condition.

The landlord’s rights must be balanced with your rights as the tenant and state law requires the landlord to provide reasonable notice before entering the property. Additionally, any entry into the home should be during business hours unless the tenant consents otherwise. There are limited circumstances where a landlord is permitted to enter the property without first providing notice.

What is reasonable notice and when is a landlord allowed to enter your home without first providing notice? California Civil Code §1954 lays out the rules for landlord entry into rented properties. 

Here are the basics:

Can my landlord enter my home without my knowledge?

Generally, no. State law requires landlords to provide tenants with reasonable notice before entering the home. However, there is an exception for emergencies. Landlords may enter the property without a tenant’s prior knowledge or consent in emergency circumstances. Landlords may also bypass the notice requirement when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the home.

When can my landlord enter my home without permission?

Landlords have a limited right of entry with proper notice. However, when there is an emergency that threatens life or property, the landlord is not required to provide notice or obtain permission from the tenant before entering the premises. Flooding, burst pipes, or gas leaks are the most common emergencies that warrant a landlord’s entry without providing reasonable notice. The landlord may also enter your home without permission if he or she has a court order to do so.

What must a landlord do before entering my home?

California law requires landlords to provide tenants with reasonable notice of entry. Written notice provided at least twenty-four hours in advance is presumed reasonable, but not necessarily required. Notice should be specific as to when and why the landlord needs to enter the property and should provide the tenant with as much notice as possible.

Further, landlords should limit entry to normal business hours unless the tenant expressly consents to entry outside of these standard hours or if there is an emergency. Landlords may enter the property for many reasons, including to make necessary repairs or to show the property to new tenants, purchasers, or lenders. However, in addition to providing the tenant with the required notice, the landlord must take care to ensure any work done or other necessary entry does not unreasonably interfere with the tenant’s use of the unit or right to privacy.

It is illegal for landlords to abuse the right of entry or harass tenants. In addition to your right to privacy, you are also entitled to peacefully and privately enjoy your home. If you have reason to believe that your landlord is interfering with your rights as a tenant, contact an experienced tenant lawyer to discuss your options.

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