California Attorney and Real Estate Broker Chris Adishian answers the question, “When can a residential Landlord access a Tenant occupied unit?” at the South Bay Association of Realtors event, “Commercial Attorney Panel-Hot Legal Issues for Commercial Real Estate” on March 5, 2014.
What are the general rules governing a residential Landlord’s ability to access a Tenant occupied unit?
Question: “In a six-unit multi-family building, one of the units was tested for mold and in the bathroom there was a spot that tested positive. It wasn’t a toxic mold, but nonetheless, it’s mold. So the landlord wanted to go in to replace it to fix the problem. He served notice to the tenant; said, ‘48 hours we’d like to come in to repair that area.’ The tenant responded by saying, ‘No one may enter this unit without my permission and I do not grant permission until this has been re-tested by a third party.’ And that kind of created a bit of a stalemate. So the Landlord does not know how to proceed.”
Answer: “Well I’m sure we’ve all probably had some variation on this over the years and a lot of this stuff, the attorneys become desensitized to it and the inflammatory nature of it. But people learn things whether by the news or Internet or Oprah or whatever, and they’re like, ‘Oh!’ and they raise, and the big one’s mold, but oftentimes mold is just something they know will get the Landlords on the defensive, because ‘Oh God, mold,’ million dollar verdicts, and stuff.
So first thing and foremost, the landlord should have insurance that covers mold remediation. It’s common enough, it’s out there, it’s available. Getting that insurance will give you a lot of peace of mind.
Second thing is: most leases, again you have got to look at your lease and the law I think supports this, that if it’s an emergency condition, the landlord does not
need the tenant’s consent. So that’s what I would say.”
Question: “And if it’s not an emergency because this is not a toxic mold, evidently does that mean that they’d have to…”
Answer: “Hold on, well, frankly I’d have to go look at the case law to see if there’s been a case as to whether or not the existence of mold is an emergency condition and has it been litigated? Maybe it’s not been litigated. And if the tenant has asked that the work be done, then that would be evidence that obviously the landlord has permission to go in.
It’s a very easy argument though, due to the nature of mold, to say, ‘Look, a little old may be nontoxic today. But over time, dripping, dripping, dripping and mold’s characteristics, it could easily become toxic or widespread, so it is necessary.’”
Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.
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