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By Karen Drum-Sousa
Fair Housing advocate 

Landlords and trespassing

Fair Housing


December 7, 2019

Karen Drum-Sousa

Historically, Landlords and Tenants have been on opposite sides of the fence. Thankfully, the Fair Housing Laws define the rights of both, as well as all aspects of housing transactions from rental, sales, realtors, management companies, insurance, etc. This column is designed to bridge the gap between the two.

Just because a landlord owns the property that does not give him/her the right to show up without notice. Most states, including California, have statutes that define when a landlord can enter your property including how much notice must be given and the reason the landlord wants entry.

In all states, a landlord can enter your property without notice in an emergency only. An example would be if a pipe burst and water was leaking into the unit below you. The landlord, in that instance, can send a maintenance worker into your unit if you aren't home to address the emergency.

In all other cases, not only is the landlord required to give the tenant proper notice, s/he must also have a good reason for entering your property. In California, the following are the reasons a landlord can give notice of entry to a tenant.

• In an emergency

• To make repairs

• To show the property to prospective tenants if the lease is ending

• To inspect for safety issues or to ensure the property meets building safety codes.

Most leases will state when a landlord can enter the property, however, just because it is stated in the lease does not mean that it is legally binding. Although leases are a legal document, the conditions detailed in the lease still have to follow the law. For example, a lease may state that the landlord can enter the property without notice at any time. California law states that a landlord must give a tenant 24 hours written notice so that portion of the lease would not be legal or enforceable.

Don't worry if you don't have a rental agreement or a lease. In most cases, being able to prove that you paid a security deposit and a pattern of paying rent each month is enough to prove that you and the landlord have an oral agreement. In court, an oral agreement is legal and holds as much weight as a written agreement.

Additionally, each tenant has an "implied right to quiet enjoyment" which includes the right to peace, quiet and reasonable privacy.

It is always recommended to have a written lease or rental agreement in order to both protect both parties as well as inform each party what is expected.

Please email any questions to

Karen Drum-Sousa is not an attorney. Karen Drum-Sousa has been a Fair Housing advocate since her employment in the industry in March of 2000. To date, her experience includes discrimination testing, landlord/tenant mediation/concilliation and working with HUD and the DOJ as the C.O.O. of a Fair Housing organization.


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