James writes in with a touchy question about renter's rights:
Dear AT:LA: one of my co-workers here in the office is having serious problems with the people he's renting a room from. He rents a room out of someone's house, has a drafted lease, and the room is sectioned off from the house with its own deadbolt. He's positive that the landlords have been entering his unit, without notice, and going through he personal stuff. He has a year lease, and he paid first and last month's rent, but now they're telling him that he has to leave a month before it was set to expire. All of these things seem really shady, and possibly illegal to me. I was wondering if you have a phone number for whatever apropriate agencies might be able to help my friend out and how he should go about it.
Renters can find legal information and assistance via numerous avenues listed here.
According to California law, a landlord can enter a rental unit only for the following reasons:
The landlord or the landlord's agent must give the tenant reasonable advance notice in writing before entering the unit, and can enter only during normal business hours (generally, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays). The notice must state the date, approximate time and purpose of entry. 106 However, advance written notice is not required under any of the following circumstances:
- To respond to an emergency.
- The tenant has moved out or has abandoned the rental unit.
- The tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
- The tenant and landlord have agreed that the landlord will make repairs or supply services, and have agreed orally that the landlord may enter to make the repairs or supply the services. The agreement must include the date and approximate time of entry, which must be within one week of the oral agreement.
More information here from the California Department of Consumer Affairs.