Can California Landlords Inspect a Rental Property Anytime they Want?
Any homeowner knows that ignoring your property is not a good idea. If you do, everything could go wrong. Rain seeps under and damages the ceiling. Furnaces wear out and appliances break down. Wood rots, wires fray and faucets drip. As San Diego property management experts, we encourage landlords to conduct property inspections during the terms of the lease to make sure any maintenance and repair is taken care of in a timely manner. While property inspection is vital for successfully managing a rental property, you must respect the privacy of your tenants at the same time. It’s also important to understand laws, rules and regulations pertaining rental property ownership and tenants as these may vary from state to state.
Understanding the key difference between maintenance, repairs and emergencies is important for landlords. Each category has a different time frame for completion. In general, repairs are fixing things that break and maintenance is routinely keeping up the property. Emergencies are situations that require immediate attention. You also have a different set of rules about entering your tenant’s home without permission when you suspect an emergency.
Although under normal circumstances you have no right to enter your tenant’s apartment without permission, the law makes an exception when it looks like there’s an emergency and your tenant is not at home. Legally you can enter the unit if you see smoke pouring out of a window or water flowing underneath the tenant’s door or through the ceiling, or if you hear screams and no one answers your knock. When no one responds to your knock, however, you must first call the police, then use your key to enter the unit.
For all other entries including for maintenance, repairs and inspections, you have no right to enter without an invitation or permission. Ward off possible accusations of theft by giving your tenant written notice at least twenty-four hours before you wish to enter. Whenever you want to maintain, repair, or inspect the unit, you should talk to your tenant and schedule a time that’s convenient for him or her.
There is such a thing called excessive entry which can be viewed as harassment even if you give proper notification. In general, excessive is giving notice to enter twice within a 30-day period for reasons the tenant didn’t solicit. You do, however, have the right to enter if you suspect the tenant has abandoned the premises. You can confirm an abandonment by sending the tenant a Notice of Belief of Abandonment no sooner than 14 consecutive days of unpaid rent. If the tenant doesn’t respond or pay rent within 15 days if served in person, or 18 days if served by mail, you have the right to move someone else in without filing an Unlawful Retainer.