Under what circumstances can a landlord enter your apartment when you are not home, and in what manner can they enter?

UPDATED: Jan 28, 2011

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Under what circumstances can a landlord enter your apartment when you are not home, and in what manner can they enter?

I came home from an appointment yesterday approximately 11:30 AM to find a new stove in my apartment (my old 1 had been removed 1 1/2 week prior because it broke down). I found a note from the manager stating that she forgot to tell me that it was being delivered that morning. Later I found out that she allowed someone (herself or delivery person) to break through the screen and open the glass window in order to open the door from inside because she didn’t want to leave the stove out on my front deck. I’m a single female and live in a 4-plex upstairs unit. I was never given notice and I feel violated.

Asked on January 28, 2011 under Real Estate Law, California


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

What the landlord did was improper. A landlord may enter with reasonable notice--usually taken to mean at least 24  hours--during reasonable hours (usually taken to mean typical "working" hours) to inspect an apartment, perform maintenance, or show it to prosprective renters (or buyers of the building). The only time a landlord may enter without notice is for an emergency--to shut off water that overflowing or leaking, deal with an electrical or gas problem that poses a hazard, etc. Not wanting to leave a stove in front when the landlord failed to coordinate matters is not an emergency.

However, while what the landlord did is wrong, if it's an isolated incident and there's no repurcussions--nothing taken, door fixed, no injury to you, etc.--there's little you can do. The absence of a loss or damages means there's nothing to sue for--there is no recovery in court for "feeling violated" in this context. You *might* be able to use this as grounds to terminate the lease early, but you should consult with a landlord-tenant attorney before doing, since doing this incorrectly could result in legal liability (i.e. you'd still be responsible under the lease).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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