This article was posted on Tuesday, Apr 01, 2014

Q: I entered my rental unit without giving my tenant notice to measure the square footage of the unit.  My tenant found out about it and complained that I violated his right to privacy is he right?

UnderCalifornialaw, a landlord can enter a rental unit for the following reasons:

1) in an emergency 2) when the tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit 3) to make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements, 4) to show the rental unit to prospective tenants, purchasers, or lenders, to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit, or to conduct an initial inspection before the end of the tenancy 5) if a court order permits the landlord to enter 6) if the tenant has a waterbed, to inspect the installation of the waterbed when the installation has been completed, and periodically after that to assure that the installation meets the law’s requirements.

In your situation, if your entry was necessary to effectuate necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements to the unit, then you should have given the tenant notice and proceeded accordingly.  If your entry was for some other reason not listed above, then you did violate the law because your reason for entry is not allowed underCalifornialaw and you failed to give notice.  Under these circumstances, you should have obtained permission from the tenant prior to entering the unit.  If the tenant refused to give you permission to enter, then you should not have entered the unit.

Q: I would like to enter my rental unit to repair a leak.  Do I have to give notice to my tenant or can I just enter the unit while my tenant is not present? 

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A landlord must give the tenant reasonable advance notice in writing before entering a rental unit.  The notice must state the date, approximate time, and purpose of entry.  The law considers 24 hours advance written notice to be reasonable in most situations. The landlord may enter only during normal business hours (generally, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays).  However, advance written notice is not required under certain circumstances:

1) To respond to an emergency, 2) the tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit, 3) the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry, 4) the tenant and landlord have agreed that the landlord will make repairs or supply services, and have agreed orally that the landlord may enter to make the repairs or supply the services.

In your situation, it appears that it is not an emergency so you will be required to give notice to your tenant or to speak to your tenant and hopefully he will orally agree to allow you to enter and make the repairs.

Q: I can’t find my tenant.   How can I give her notice that I would like to enter the unit to make repairs?

There are several ways in which you can give notice to a tenant if you are unable to personally deliver the notice to her.  You may leave the notice at the rental unit with a person of suitable age and discretion such as a roommate or a teenage member of the tenant’s household; or post a copy of the notice at or near the usual entry door in such a way that it is likely to be found; or mail the notice to the tenant.  If the notice is mailed to the tenant, mailing the notice at least six days before the intended entry is presumed to be reasonable in most situations. 

Q: I am in the process of selling my apartment building.  What are the notice requirements to allow me to show the building to potential buyers? 

Special rules apply if the purpose of the entry is to show the rental to a purchaser. In your case, you must first notify the tenant in writing that the rental is for sale and that you or your agent may contact the tenant orally to arrange to show it.  This written notice must be given to the tenant within 120 days of the oral notice.  Once the written notice is made you may give the tenant notice orally, either in person or by telephone.  The oral notice must state the date, approximate time and purpose of entry.  You or your agent may enter only during normal business hours, unless the tenant consents to entry at a different time. When you or your agent enters the rental, you must leave written evidence of entry, such as a business card.

Attorney Franco Simone, of the Landlords Legal Center and has been doing evictions for 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego.  Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday- Friday from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM.  Walk-in’s welcome from 1:00 to 4:00 PM only – no appointment necessary.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: or email [email protected].

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