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When Can the Landlord Enter the Rental Unit?

California law states that a landlord can enter a rental unit only for the following reasons:77

In an emergency.
When the tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
To make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements.
To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, buyers, or lenders, or to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit.
If a court order permits the landlord to enter.

Except in the first two situations above (emergencies and abandonment), the landlord must give the tenant reasonable advance notice before entering the rental unit, and can enter only during normal business hours (generally, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekdays).

The law considers 24 hours’ advance notice to be reasonable in most situations. The tenant can consent to shorter notice and to entry at other times. Also, the landlord can give less than 24 hours’ notice when it is "impracticable" to give 24 hours’ notice (for example, the landlord tries to reach the tenant 24 hours in advance, but the tenant doesn’t return the call).

The landlord cannot abuse the right of access under these rules, or use this right to harass (repeatedly disturb) the tenant.

If your landlord violates these access rules, talk to the landlord about your concerns. If that is not successful in stopping the landlord’s misconduct, send the landlord a formal letter asking the landlord to strictly observe the access rules stated above. If the landlord continues to violate these rules, you can talk to an attorney or a legal aid organization, or file suit in small claims court to recover damages that you have suffered due to the landlord’s misconduct.

Subleases and Assignments

Sometimes, a tenant with a lease may need to move out before the lease ends, or may need help paying the rent. In these situations, the tenant may want to sublease the rental unit or assign the lease to another tenant. However, the tenant cannot sublease the rental unit or assign the lease unless the terms of the lease allow the tenant to do so.


A sublease is a separate rental agreement between the original tenant and a new tenant who moves in temporarily (for example, for the summer), or who moves in with the original tenant and shares the rent. The new tenant is called a "subtenant."

With a sublease, the agreement between the original tenant and the landlord remains in force. The original tenant is still responsible for paying the rent to the landlord, and functions as a landlord to the subtenant. Any sublease agreement between a tenant and a subtenant should be in writing.

Most rental agreements and leases contain a provision that prohibits (prevents) tenants from subleasing or assigning rental units. This kind of provision allows the landlord to control who rents the rental unit. If your rental agreement or lease prohibits subleases or assignments, you must get your landlord’s permission before you sublease or assign the rental unit.

Even if your rental agreement doesn’t contain a provision that prohibits you from subleasing or assigning, it’s wise to discuss your plans with your landlord in advance. Subleases and assignments usually don’t work out smoothly unless everyone has agreed in advance.

You might use a sublease in two situations. In the first situation, you may have a larger apartment or house than you need, and may want help paying the rent. Therefore, you want to rent a room to someone. In the second situation, you may want to leave the rental unit for a certain period and return to it later. For example, you may be a college student who leaves the campus area for the summer and returns in the fall. You may want to sublease to a subtenant who will agree to use the rental unit only for that period of time.

Under a sublease agreement, the subtenant agrees to make payments to you, not to the landlord. The subtenant has no direct responsibility to the landlord, only to you. The subtenant has no greater rights than you do as the original tenant. For example, if you have a month-to-month rental agreement, so does the subtenant. If your rental agreement does not allow you to have a pet, then the subtenant cannot have a pet.

In any sublease situation, it’s essential that both you and the subtenant have a clear understanding of both of your obligations. To help avoid disputes between you and the subtenant, this understanding should be put in the form of a written sublease agreement that both you and the subtenant sign.

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