California Rental Inspection Rights

Landlords and tenants alike are often confused about a landlord's rights to make routine inspections of their property. California, like most states, gives tenants the right to privacy while also allowing a landlord to protect his property against damage. State law also helps tenants avoid security deposit deductions by allowing tenants to request and receive a preliminary inspection prior to moving out.

Quiet Enjoyment

"Quiet enjoyment" is a common law principle providing tenants with the right to live in their homes without intrusions by--or interference from--their landlord. California law limits a landlord's access to a tenant's home by restricting the grounds for entering a rental unit and requiring landlords to give tenants notice of their plans to conduct an inspection or make repairs.

Routine Inspections and Repairs

Landlords can enter a tenant's home to perform an inspection or make repairs, but they need to give a tenant advance notice of their plans. If they deliver written notice directly to the tenant, the required notice is 24 hours, though a mailed notice must be sent six days before the day of the inspection. The law also requires landlords to schedule inspections and repairs during normal business hours, unless the tenant agrees to a different time.

Initial Inspection

California law requires landlords to comply with a tenant's request for an “initial” inspection to protect a tenant's security deposit two weeks before a lease or rental agreement ends. During this inspection, the landlord must inspect the property for damage that could result in a security deposit deduction and inform the tenant of his findings. The tenant then has some time to correct the problem or problems before the landlord's final inspection after the tenant moves out. California law requires that landlords give their tenants 48 hours notice before conducting an initial inspection, though the landlord and tenant can waive this notice by mutual agreement.

Emergency Access

California law allows a landlord to enter a tenant's property without notice in case of emergency. The law doesn't define “emergencies,” but situations in which a landlord must respond to an injured tenant, fire or burst water pipes can safely be considered emergencies that require immediate attention.