What are my rights in regard to Open Houses/viewings of my apartment when my building is for sale?
I live in a 4-unit rent controlled building (built in 1906). The owners of our building recently died and the trustees of the estate came by with a realtor to assess the building.
I overheard the realtor telling the trustees that they should encourage a buyer to “Ellis us all.” Of course I did my homework and researched Ellis Act, and I know that it’s not as easy as she told them. However, it really upset me that she would say it like that, and encourage them to tell a buyer to do that.
Initially, I was helpful to them but now, without being hostile or breaking any laws, I have no desire to help them sell this building and I have no desire to accommodate this awful realtor. I don’t intend on being hostile but I do want to make things difficult for her because why shouldn’t I?
What are my rights in regard to her Open Houses that she will no doubt plan? Do I have any rights in limiting the viewings that she will schedule? I don’t want to let strangers into my home 24/7 and I also have a dog that will attack strangers/run out if I’m not home so I do need to plan in advance.
Do I have any rights in limiting views of Open Houses? Or do I have to just allow strangers to trample through my home with a disrespectful realtor?
Real estate agents–irrefutable proof that the United States is not a meritocracy. Between the lies, the drivel and the nonsensical notion that real estate agents are professionals, many of these guys make lawyers look good. On top of it all, despite the fact that it may benefit them, most realtors don’t know jack shit about the law. When it comes to legal analytical skills, or the ability to read, I think there is an IQ requirement to be licensed as a realtor–82 or lower.
Last year, after I had negotiated a postponement of an inspection with a seller’s agent to accommodate my disabled client, the buyer’s agent had the temerity to call me and say, “He (my client) is no more disabled than you or me.” I don’t think she expected my response: “What the fuck did you just say to me?” Needless to say, this moron’s advice to her client cost the buyer thousands of dollars in legal fees and tens of thousands of dollars more paid to my client.
As a tenant, you have no duty to help a landlord or his realtor sell a building. You don’t have to be nice to them. You cannot, however, obstruct the sales process.
All leases have an implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. You have the right to to enjoy possession of the premises without unreasonable interference or unjustified entry from the landlord or his agents. The tension between your right to enjoyment of your apartment and the landlord’s right to sell the building can create significant conflict with respect to marketing a building.
First, I recommend that you read and try to understand California Civil Code §1954(a) which states:
A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:
(1) In case of emergency.
(2) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5.
(3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
(4) Pursuant to court order.
Also note that Civil Code §1954(d)(2) provides:
If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above. Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.
Second, inform the landlord and the landlord’s agent, in writing, that you have a dog in the unit that could bite a perceived intruder.
Third, within the context that you must be present at any showing because of the dog, try to arrange a schedule with the agent that will comport with yours. Tell her that you are willing to work with her.
If the real estate agent refuses to accommodate you, remind her that her refusal will create liability for the landlord, her client, and point out in writing:
- You have a right to quiet enjoyment of the premises;
- She must comply with Civil Code California Civil Code §1954 (Be sure to provide her a copy.);
- If she continues to enter unreasonably, even if the dog doesn’t bite, you will. That you can file a lawsuit against her and the landlord pursuant to Rent Ordinance §37.10B (landlord harassment) and Civil Code §1940.2 for significant intentional violations of C.C. §1954 that carries a penalty of up to $2,000 per violation; and that you will file a complaint with the San Francisco Association of Realtors and the California Department of Real Estate.
Frankly, I don’t know if complaints filed with the Association of Realtors or the DRE have much weight, but I’ve found that realtors don’t know that either (reading issues) and I have used the threat effectively.
Reread my blog post, Even Dracula Had to Have an Invite Before He Could Enter. In it I recommend that you read The Unnecessary Conflict in Landlord Entries, by J. Wallace Oman, one of the deans of San Francisco tenant lawyers. Mr. Oman’s article provides a complete list of actions a tenant can take to control landlord and agent entries.