Landlords in San Francisco, Oakland and throughout the Bay Area naturally want to inspect the condition of their property and identify any serious problems that may manifest themselves over the course of a tenancy.
Of course, an inquisitive owner can visit their properties anytime at a distance to glance at the exterior and observe activity in and around the dwelling, but we urge owners to resist the temptation to knock on the door and make an impromptu inspection of the rental unit. That’s because in California, tenants have a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes.
Translation: Once you hand over the keys, the law recognizes the tenant’s right to privacy and grants the owner permission to access the unit under limited circumstances. Barring an emergency, the landlord must give ample notice to enter the apartment to conduct specific tasks, namely:
- To make necessary or agreed on repairs, decorations or alterations, or improvements
- To supply necessary or agreed services
- To show the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, residents, workers, or contractors
- To inspect the premises to document the condition of the property upon moving in and out, for purposes of a security deposit
- To inspect a waterbed for compliance with installation requirements
When owners encroach on the tenant’s right to privacy, it can not only sour the relationship with the tenant and possibly nudge them to move — it can also be a breach of the tenant’s right to quiet enjoyment of the rental unit and expose the landlord to liability. If you catch the tenant in an embarrassing moment, you are inviting trouble to your rental business.
Move-in and move-out inspections
As we noted in an earlier post, security deposit disputes are the most common reason why landlords are ushered into small claims court. To avoid conflict, a property inspection before residents move in or out of the rental unit is critical. A proper move-in and move-out inspection both holds the tenant accountable for damages caused outside of “normal wear and tear” and reduces the likelihood of conflicts when any portion of the security deposit is deducted.
What constitutes damage and what should be considered “normal wear and tear” is an enigma to many landlords, but this handy PDF can serve as a guide to evaluate any degradation to the rental unit.
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Competence in these moving parts are the building blocks of a successful relationship with a property management company and the hallmarks of Bay Property Group. To explore complete property management services for single and multi-family buildings in the San Francisco Bay Area, contact our office.
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