When Can A Residential Landlord Access A Tenant-Occupied Unit In California?

Do you rent your primary resident? Or are you a residential landlord? If you live in the world of renting, you know the trouble and issues that can arise in tenant/landlord relationships over time. Maybe you’re a landlord who has issues with your tenants paying rent on time; or maybe you’re a tenant who has issues with getting your landlord to help with repairs to the unit you rent. Almost all of us have gone through these things at one point or another in our lives, and many are unaware of what kind of conduct is and is not okay between a landlord and his or her tenant. One issue that pops up the most is the landlord’s ability to access a tenant occupied unit. When is it okay, and when is it not? Laws vary by State on when a landlord may or may not have access to a unit currently occupied. Let’s take a look at California State Law.

In most instances, California landlords must provide written notice in advance before accessing a unit; with very few exceptions are they allowed to enter a unit without written notice ahead of time.

Here are the guidelines, according to California Civil Code 1954, for when a landlord may enter or access a tenant-occupied unit without the tenant’s permission:

A California landlord may enter a unit without the tenant’s permission if written notice is provided at least 24 hours prior. There must be valid reasoning such as repairs that need to be made, inspections that need to be done, and providing notice for when the landlord is showing the unit to prospective tenants. When giving written notice to the tenant, the landlord must specify the time and date of access as well as why they need to access the unit.

landlord entering

If you’re a tenant, you may worry about what might happen to your things if your landlord comes in while you aren’t home. This is another issue that is clarified in California Civil code 1954. According to the code, if anything gets broken or stolen while they are in your unit, the landlord is held liable; this means you’d be able to take action to recover the costs of damages or losses.

While California Civil code places rules on written notification from the landlord to the tenant before the landlord can access your unit, it does allow for special circumstances when he or she may enter without notification or permission. One prime example would be if there is an emergency. If something happens, like an unexpected fire or water pipes bursting, the landlord may enter without notice to the tenant in order to resolve the issue as quickly as possible.

Whether you’re a tenant or a landlord, it’s always best to know your rights on what is and is not allowed in a landlord/tenant relationship. Always make sure you know your State’s civil code for these kinds of issues.