When tenants are adamant about refusing access to the rental unit

You have said that even if there is no rental income because of eviction moratoriums, landlords must maintain the unit in habitable condition and avoid code violations, but how do we verify the condition if we are having trouble with the tenant letting us in?


This is an age-old problem, which is if a tenant doesn't let you in, you can't know how bad it is. Our office is pretty vigilant in demanding access.

You have to post a properly drafted 24-hour notice and if a tenant refuses access after the posted notice and continues to refuse access, I can terminate the tenancy and that's expressly permitted under the state just cause eviction law (AB 1482) and most other local ordinances, as well.

In recent memory, I completed a court trial where the tenant did not pay rent and, as a defense to the unlawful detainer action, claimed habitability issues. Our office countered that the tenant refused to give our client access to the rental unit, making it impossible to effectuate any repairs, and the court found this argument persuasive.

The judge found that refusal to grant access was a bad faith behavior and we obtained a judgment even though there were existing conditions inside the unit that were less than ideal.

The assumption is that a tenant is going to cooperate so that the landlord can proceed with a repair and if the resident doesn't cooperate, I will send out a templated letter along with the notice of entry and I will notify the tenant if the owner cannot get access to the unit, it is grounds to terminate the tenancy.

We need to document that the notice was properly served and if it is left in a conspicuous place, we like to take a photo of it. The main point is that the tenant cannot feign that he or she was not put on notice and, that they were put on notice, and after being notified, the tenant obstructed access.

Whether it is damage, unauthorized pets, or excessive growing of pot plants - any number of behaviors that the tenant wants to conceal - they will go through elaborate means to hide it from prying eyes. We've even had rental units infested with bed bugs and tenants would not let the exterminator in. For residents looking to conceal something, being chomped on by bugs is more favorable than allowing anyone into the unit to remediate the problem.

We have said many times and in many venues that owners or their agents need to be the eyes and ears of their property. When this becomes obstructed or impossible, Bornstein Law can assist in regaining control.