Tenant Troubles: Can My Landlord Give A 24-Hour Notice For Entry That Lasts All Week?

Can a landlord state a whole week 9:00am – 5:00pm to enter under California Civil Code Section 1954, 24-hour notice? For the first four days, she doesn’t show or call. Then she screams, swears, and prays while walking around. She also threatened to break all the windows and to burn down the house if we ever refuse to let her in.

She isn’t the owner, she gave the house to her daughter to avoid lawsuits. But she walks around screaming that the house belongs to her no matter whose name is on it.

Tenant Troubles Archives

Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com. Here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

Can your landlord serve a 24-hour notice that lasts for a week? How does that work unless there’s an ongoing construction project? Civil Code §1954(d)(1) states in part, “[T]he landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry.”

Twenty-four hours is presumed to be reasonable. The law does not presume multiple entries as you describe.

You don’t mention the landlord’s rationale for her entries but they are also circumscribed by the law:

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.

Given her actions, I somehow doubt that your landlord has any cognizable reason to enter your house other than to harass you. Join the San Francisco Tenants Union to discuss your situation with a counselor there. They can help you to write the landlord a letter to assert your rights.

Lovely. You have encountered another version of a troll landlord–the troll who won’t go home.

I’ve run into landlords like this more often than one might imagine. They’re completely insane and often maintain a “workshop” in a multi-unit building.  They think they’re somehow repairing or cleaning their property, but, of course, they’re doing neither. They visit the property solely to torture their tenants. Landlord trolls with a Caligula complex are particularly dangerous because many of them are richer than god and if you cross them, they’ll do anything they can and spend any amount of money to get you out.

I’m dealing with an eviction case right now that has a troll who won’t go home. She’s a wealthy woman who owns several big buildings. She comes to the building in which my clients lives almost every day to “sweep” and lurk in my client’s garage.

I had another case in which the landlord, worth about $10 million and who had a home in the East Bay, had a habit of driving to San Francisco and hanging around the building in which my clients lived. One day he had the temerity to walk up three flights of stairs to illegally enter my clients’ apartment to take a dump. They were home at the time.

In each of these cases, the landlords tried to evict my clients based upon trumped up allegations designed to cost my clients thousands of dollars and to force them to vacate.

You may ask yourself: Don’t these landlords have something better to do? Can’t they simply enjoy their wealth? But those are rational inquiries. You and I cannot begin to understand the irrational, compulsive actions of a sociopath, a king, a dictator or a landlord.

You can video the landlord’s tirades. You can call the cops when she insists upon entering without a good reason. You can try to get a restraining order. You can sue her (and her daughter) for harassment.

But, according to the address you provided me, you live in a house. Unless you have been a tenant there since 1995, you should understand that your landlord, if she comes to her senses, can simply increase your rent to get you to move.

Unless you have a rent-controlled tenancy, my advice is simple: Start looking for new housing now, before your landlord burns down the house or before she conjures a reason to sue you because you defied her.

the author

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

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  • njudah

    my experience is that landlords like this are usually people who are out of touch with reality, and in most cases, are not the original “owners” of the property – rather they’ve inherited it via a family trust or other such mechanism and don’t really appreciate or understand their role, or the benefits of STFU and just collecting the money.

    a friend of mine had a similar problem with an insane landlord, who really wasnt the 100% owner (rather instead she was a part owner along with other family members who hated her for being insane) and her crazy antics got her routinely sued by tenants (Who always won) and ended up sending the building into receivership. if she’d just STFU and enjoyed her cash, all woulda been well and legal!

  • liljenstolpe

    Dave – I love how you paint all landlords with the same brush “You and I cannot begin to understand the irrational, compulsive actions of a sociopath, a king, a dictator or a landlord.” Yes there are whack jobs that are landlords – guess what, there are whack jobs that are tenants as well.

    If you can’t, or don’t want, to assess each case on it’s individual basis, rather than assuming all landlords are sociopaths or worse, the value of your council and discourse is somewhat diminished.

    I wonder what happens when more and more landlords just give up on San Francisco because it’s just not worth the frustration – oh, never mind, I forgot, we’re living through that now.

    • withak30

      If they take their ball and go home then who will they get to be king of then?

  • Tim Bracken

    I have no data on this, but I would guess that the mental-illness rate among landlords is on par with the mental-illness rate among non-landlords. Unfortunately, when someone with power over your life acts irrationally, that’s a lot worse than when some random person on the street does it, but that does not mean that landlords as a group are more likely to be irrational sociopaths.

  • Brian

    Dave seems to get his scripts directly from 1930’s Nazi hate speeches. To see what I mean, just re-read the paragraph below from today’s column and substitute the word “landlord” with the name of any group of people oppressed by the Nazis.

    “You may ask yourself: Don’t these landlords have something better to do?
    Can’t they simply enjoy their wealth? But those are rational inquiries.
    You and I cannot begin to understand the irrational, compulsive actions
    of a sociopath, a king, a dictator or a landlord.”

  • Ahmad Al-Akkad

    I’m in a similar situation and want to know the answer to “Can your landlord serve a 24-hour notice that lasts for a week?” I also received a notice with no exact date. I want to know exactly how “approximated” a date can be.