Can a Landlord Enter Without Permission in California?

If your landlord enters your home at whim, it can leave you feeling like you have no legal rights, but can a landlord enter without permission in California or is it against the law? This guide will arm you with the information you need to know your rights and protect them.

Can a landlord enter without permission in California?

When it comes to your home, is it illegal for a landlord to enter without permission? The truth is that your landlord can enter your unit without your permission but not without giving you reasonable written notice and entering during normal business hours. California has important laws on the books that protect both landlords and renters.  

A real emergency is the only exception to the California law that tenants must be provided with notice of entry.  If there is an emergency in relation to tenant safety or in relation to imminent property damage, the landlord can enter without permission or written notice. 

The kinds of emergencies that typically qualify include the following:

  • Fire
  • Flooding 
  • Damage caused by extreme weather conditions
  • Gas leaks

in order for the requirement of written notice to be waived, the need to gain immediate access to the property must outweigh the tenant’s right to privacy. 

Can a landlord come on the property without notice?

While a landlord doesn’t need permission to come on a property they own, they are required to provide tenants with written notice ahead of time. Other than in emergency situations, a landlord showing up unannounced is against the law.  

How much notice does a landlord have to give to enter?

In California, reasonable written notice of intent to enter a rental property is required in all non-emergency situations. In most cases, 24 hours is considered a reasonable amount of notice. 

You should know, however, that – while 24 hours of written notice usually suffices – the circumstances involved must be taken into careful consideration. Sometimes, more notice is required in order to remain on the right side of the law.

Landlord 24 hour notice to enter California

Landlords often need to enter rental units in order to make repairs and engage in regular maintenance, but they are required to give their renters advance notice. Generally, written notice that’s provided at least 24 hours ahead of time does the trick. 

The following information must be included in the written notice provided to tenants:

  • The date and time that the landlord plans on entering the unit, which must be within regular business hours
  • The reason for the landlord’s entry

In California, requests for entry must be in writing, and notice can be delivered in any of the following ways:

  • It can be personally delivered to the tenant. 
  • It can be left with someone on the premises who has the maturity and discretion to handle the matter.
  • It can be left on, near, or under the door that the tenants generally use for entry, but it must be posted in a manner that allows reasonable people to discover it.
  • It can be sent via the U.S. Postal Service, but when notice is mailed, state law extends the reasonable notice requirement to six days.

Landlord 48 hour notice to enter California

There are certain instances when landlords must give their tenants additional notice. For example, a move-out inspection requires written notice of intended entry at least 48 hours prior to entering the premises. Another situation in which providing 48 hours of notice is generally advised is when showing a rental property to a prospective tenant. 

Landlord 120 day notice to sell in California

When a landlord is selling a rental property in California that is tenant occupied, they must give both written and oral notice that the property is being sold. The legal requirement is 120 day notice to sell California. Throughout this time, the landlord is required to provide tenants with reasonable notice regarding entering the unit to show. 

California landlord inspection laws and landlord right of entry laws

The rental property inspection laws California provides are wide ranging and are intended to balance the tenants’ right to privacy with the landlord’s right to protect their investment. California real estate law is complex, but there are many protections in place for both renters and property owners.

If you have questions or concerns about whether or not it’s illegal for a landlord to enter without permission, keep reading. Understanding your legal rights can help you protect them.   

California Civil Code 1954

Section 1954 of the California Civil Code, or Cal. Civ. Code § 1954, guides landlord inspection laws in California by limiting the right of landlord entry to four specific categories. These represent the only instances when landlords have the right to enter rental properties – unless another statute, such as waterbed inspections, applies. 

1. For true emergencies

Landlords may enter a rental unit without proper notice if there is a true emergency that either affects the resident’s health or safety or that jeopardizes the value of the property. 

2. For repairs, services, and showings

A landlord or agent can also enter a rental property for the following reasons:

  • To make necessary repairs or services that the tenant has agreed to
  • To show the premises to prospective renters or buyers if the rental property is for sale

Because property owners are legally responsible for keeping their rental properties in habitable condition, repairs and services are sometimes needed. Performing these repairs and services, however, requires reasonable written notice.

3. For abandonment

If the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the property, the landlord’s right to enter doesn’t require notification. Nevertheless, many California landlords make it their policy to post 24-hour notice before entering an abandoned rental. The bottom line is that – if there is any chance that the tenant hasn’t abandoned the property – taking the necessary legal precautions prior to entering is always well advised. 

4. In response to a court order

The final category of legal landlord access to a rental property is when a court order applies. When a property owner is within their legal rights regarding entering a rental property but the tenant refuses to allow it, the owner must seek the court’s support. Often, this involves a marshal or sheriff meeting the owner at the rental property to help ensure their safe entry. 


Property owners in California only have the right to ban waterbeds in structures that were built before 1973. In newer dwellings, landlords are prohibited from banning waterbeds, but they can require up to $100,000 in insurance coverage – in addition to implementing other regulations. In general, property owners have the right to inspect waterbeds upon installation and to make periodic inspections thereafter – with reasonable written notification. 

Smoke alarms

Landlords also have the right to legally enter rental properties for the purpose of inspecting smoke alarms. Both smoke alarms and their inspection are legally mandated, but reasonable written notification is required.

Landlord right to have a key in California

In the State of California, landlords have the right to keep keys to their rental properties. These keys are for entry without providing notice in the case of emergencies. In all other situations, however, the landlord may only use the key to enter the property after providing proper notice, which typically means 24 hours of written notice. 

When a California tenant changes the locks, they are required to provide the landlord with a key. If a tenant whose rent is paid in full changes the locks on their unit and moves out without affording the landlord access, the landlord is still required to give reasonable notice of entry – unless there is a true emergency. Once the rent is no longer covered, the landlord can take possession without providing notice.  

Can I sue my landlord for entering without notice?

What can I do if my landlord enters without permission? That’s a good question! The bottom line is that you can sue if your landlord entered without permission, but they are unlikely to take you seriously unless you follow through by actually filing a lawsuit. 

When you rent a place to live, you have the exclusive right of possession, and this extends to your landlord or property manager – along with everyone else. The only exceptions are emergencies and those allowed by law, which include:

  • For repairs, services, and showings that the tenant has agreed to
  • For tenant abandonment
  • In response to a court order
  • For smoke alarm or waterbed inspections

Each of these exceptions requires the landlord to provide the tenant with reasonable written notice.

If your landlord does enter your home without permission, you have the right to sue in small claims court for charges of trespassing, invasion of privacy, breach of contract, and breach of quiet enjoyment. In some unique situations, criminal trespass charges can also apply. 

When a landlord rents a place to you, they sell you the right to exclusive possession. Except under specific circumstances that are carefully outlined by the law, they don’t have the legal right to enter your home without notice.  

California Civil Code 1954 violation

California Civil Code 1954 determines when a landlord can enter a tenant’s unit and when they can’t and is the legal basis for lawsuits against landlords who enter rental properties without giving proper notice. 

Local Ordinances

Some locations throughout Southern California have local laws and ordinances in place that strengthen tenant protections. These ordinances can’t, however, limit the rights granted to tenants by the state.

Our key takeaways

California has important statutes in place that are designed to protect and balance the rights of both tenants and property owners.

Owning a rental property comes with serious responsibilities, and if you’re tempted to sell, you should know that there are California house buyers out there who pay cash for rental properties like yours.

At SoCal Home Buyers, we are well-established real estate investors who have streamlined the sale process, and we encourage you to get in touch.

YouTube video
Doug & Andrea Van Soest | SoCal Home Buyers

If you have a rental property in Southern California that you’re ready to move, we pay cash for rental properties as they stand, which means there’s no need to fix your place up or to jump through the hoops that accompany the traditional real estate market. In fact, the process couldn’t be simpler:  


Can my landlord enter my house when I’m not there?

Yes, your landlord has the right to enter your house even when you’re not there in emergency situations that put human safety or the property’s value at risk. Your landlord can also enter if they have a valid reason for doing so and have provided you with written notice.

Are landlords allowed to do inspections?

Yes, landlords are allowed to perform necessary inspections, and inspections of fire alarms and water beds are common reasons. Other than emergency situations, however, landlords must provide tenants with reasonable notice in writing. This generally means 24 hours but can, under certain circumstances, be extended to 48. 

Can landlords do random inspections?

No, landlords cannot do random inspections that are nonspecific. For an owner or manager to enter a rental unit legally, they must have a valid reason for doing so and must have provided the tenant with written notice. While annual general inspections are allowed, they still require written notification.

Can I refuse a landlord inspection?

As a tenant, you can’t refuse a landlord inspection when proper notice of entry for a legally valid reason is supplied. If the landlord provides you with written verification of the inspection a reasonable amount of time prior to entering, you must comply with the notice.

Can a landlord inspect your bedroom?

A landlord can only enter your bedroom in relation to making a necessary inspection for which they have given you reasonable written notice. Valid reasons include to make needed repairs, to perform needed maintenance, in response to a court order, and in the event of a true emergency. 

Can a landlord enter your backyard without permission in California?

If your backyard is included in your rental agreement as part of your rental property, your landlord may not enter the premises without providing you with the necessary written notice – other than in situations that are true emergencies. Otherwise, it is a form of landlord trespassing.

Similar Posts