Can land­lord en­ter with­out no­tice?

Los Angeles Times - - REAL ESTATE - By Anky van Deursen Van Deursen is direc­tor of Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Pro­grams for Project Sen­tinel, a Bay Area non­profit. Send ques­tions to info@hous­ing.org.

Ques­tion: I rent a room in a house, as do two other ten­ants. We use the bath­room, kitchen and living roomas shared space. The land­lord comes in the house on a regular ba­sis, though she does not live there. She hangs out in the living room for hours on end, and I feel she is check­ing on the ten­ants.

I did a lit­tle re­search and told her that I didn’t think she had the right to just come into the house, but she pointed to a clause in the lease that specif­i­cally gives her the right to en­ter the rental premises at any time.

Since I signed a lease with this clause, do I have to put up with her pres­ence at ran­dom times of the day? An­swer: The very spe­cific rules reg­u­lat­ing a land­lord’s right to en­ter a rental unit are set forth in Cal­i­for­nia Civil Code Sec­tion1954. This statute re­quires a land­lord to give you 24 hours’ writ­ten no­tice be­fore en­ter­ing.

Even with no­tice, the statute pro­vides that a land­lord can en­ter only dur­ing nor­mal busi­ness hours and only for cer­tain spe­cific rea­sons, such as to make re­pairs, un­less you ex­plic­itly give per­mis­sion oth­er­wise. Check­ing your habits is not one of the ap­proved rea­sons listed in Sec­tion1954.

Some rental agree­ments, par­tic­u­larly those that are out of date or ob­tained from ques­tion­able sources, con­tain the type of clause you de­scribe in your ques­tion, which es­sen­tially pur­ports to waive your statu­tory rights. Cal­i­for­nia Civil Code Sec­tion1953 de­clares any such waiver un­en­force­able.

Thus the clause in your lease can be con­sid­ered null and void. Tech­ni­cally, your land­lord is tres­pass­ing if she en­ters your unit with­out meet­ing the re­quire­ments of Sec­tion1954.

If you feel un­com­fort­able dis­cussing this with your land­lord di­rectly, con­tact the lo­cal me­di­a­tion pro­gramin your area. Ame­di­a­tor can bring you and your land­lord to­gether un­der con­di­tions that are neu­tral and con­ve­nient.

Me­di­a­tion would al­low you to look for­ways to main­tain a pos­i­tive re­la­tion­ship with your land­lord or at least mu­tu­ally agree on an ac­cept­able so­lu­tion that is con­sis­tent with Cal­i­for­nia law.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact a lo­cal fair hous­ing or me­di­a­tion pro­gram, or Project Sen­tinel at (888) 324-7468, or vis­itwww.hous­ing.org.

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