The right to Privacy is a very important one. It means protection of personal information and against unwanted or excessive intrusions into the home by a landlord or his/her agents.
Private information of tenants is normally given in the application process. Information about income, bank accounts debts etc is routinely provided when completing rental applications. While the right of privacy is waived for the purpose of the application, it is not waived as to the world. Thus, the law protects tenants in that a landlord should not
share that information with others.
Renting a home means that the tenant has bought, for a time, the exclusive right to possess that home. The landlord has legal title and the tenant has a form of possessory title to the property. That means the tenant has the exclusive right of possession of the home. Thus, people can not enter without special permission or statutory authority to do so.
In California, at least 24 hours notice is required for each intended entry (subject to the exceptions as set forth below in Civil Code 1954). Specifically allowable reasons are needed for each entry and specific notice guidelines must be followed. The right of entry must not be abused. There is no general right in California to carry out routine inspections of the rental unit during the tenancy except as part of the "initial inspection" regarding the security deposit within two weeks prior to moving out. According to the MLS (Multiple Listing Service) a tenant can refuse to allow a lockbox on the property if the property is listed for sale in the MLS. (see rule 13.6 ). The code limits entries to "normal business hours" but the court in Dromy v. Lukovsky 8/30/2013 ruled that these could include Saturdays and Sundays. for having open houses to exhibit the property (with some special rules on frequency per month and the notice required)
Document any wrongful entry with a polite letter and ask that it not be repeated. If such entries are repeated despite your requests, a more forceful approach may be in order. This may include seeking the assistance of an attorney to write a letter on your behalf educating the landlord as to the true rights and responsibilities in that situation. Many times, that will solve the problem. If not, further legal action may be necessary.
CALIFORNIA CIVIL CODE section 1954
(a) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:
(1) In case of emergency.
(2) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5.
(3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
(4) Pursuant to court order.
(b) Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, entry may not be made during other than normal business hours unless the tenant consents to an entry during other than normal business hours at the time of entry.
(c) The landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.
(d)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (e), or as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. The notice may be personally delivered to the tenant, left with someone of a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice. Twenty-four hours shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days prior to an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
(2) If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above. Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.
(3) The tenant and the landlord may agree orally to an entry to make agreed repairs or supply agreed services. The agreement shall include the date and approximate time of the entry, which shall be within one week of the agreement. In this case, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant a written notice.
(e) No notice of entry is required under this section:
(1) To respond to an emergency.
(2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
(3) After the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.
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California law for San Diego is applied in these pages. Such laws may or may not be applicable in other jurisdictions. The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice. For legal advice in a particular situation, promptly consult with an appropriate attorney.