Should I go visit my rental unit?

20 Replies

Hi BP, Its been a while since I posted here. I have been learning a lot from all of you. :) Here is what bothers me now. I bought a duplex in Sacramento 6 months ago. Since we put a new tenant in on the unit (the other was a inherited tenant), I never had to go there and ‘check’ if everything is okay. There were a couple calls in the last 6 months, one for fence repair which was done by my other tenant who is pretty handy, and the other was plugged sewer which I had a plumber took care of it. I didnt go there for these two events since I figured I wouldnt be able to do anything anyway. Other than that, no calls. All peace and quiet. Its been 6 months since I visited the units. I understand tenants want privacy. I drove past by the duplex few days ago, everything look Christmasy with the decorations. What is a good “excuse” for me to tell them so I can visit and look the inside? They are good people, i dont believe they would trash the place. But who knows?! People change. Thanks BP!

I once trusted a renter. I had a PM at the time and we both didn't want to interfere with privacy. The day the renter left, I couldn't believe what I saw when I walked into the house. No words can describe it accurately enough.

I requested from my PM going forward to take pictures from other rentals every 3 months and send them to me. There was never any problem afterwards in any of my rentals. 

Trust is great. Verify is better. I believe some President said that. 

You are the owner, you do not need a excuse to take care of your property. You should be inspecting every 3 months and every time you have a reason/call from tenants for repair issues. 

Change filters, test smoke alarms, check for any type of small water leak. You make it clear when interviewing applicants that you are a pro active owner and will be inspecting for these issues on a regular bases to insure your tenant has no hidden problems.

There is no reason for a investor to neglect their investment due to respecting a tenants privacy. Tenants have no right to expect uninterrupted privacy when renting someone else's property. That is illogical thinking. Privacy comes with home ownership. 


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

  • In an emergency.
  • When the tenant has moved out or has abandonedthe rental unit.
  • To make necessary or agreed-upon repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements.
  • To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, purchasers, or lenders, to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit, or to conduct an initial inspection before the end of the tenancy (see Initial Inspection sidebar).
  • 116
  • If the tenant has a waterbed, to inspect the installation of the waterbed when the installation has been completed, and periodically after that to assure that the installation meets the law's requirements.117

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. 118 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.119

The landlord or agent may use any one of the following methods to give the tenant written notice of intent to enter the unit. The landlord or agent may:

  • Personally deliver the notice to the tenant; or
  • Leave the notice at the rental unit with a person of suitable age and discretion (for example, a roommate or a teenage member of the tenant's household); or
  • Leave the notice on, near or under the unit's usual entry door in such a way that it is likely to be found; or
  • Mail the notice to the tenant.120

Remember quit enjoyment!!! If you continually request access when no repairs were requested and for minor things that the tenant can do like checking smoke alarms, Changing ac filters, the tenant can sue you for not having quit enjoyment, also landlords dont have the right to request entry to "inspect" anything, under california law your breaking the implied warranty of habitability. If you need to inspect for repairs you probably shouldnt have been renting it. Be careful with this I know alot of landlords getting in big trouble because of this, theres a very thin line here. Remember that is what your security deposit is for, damages, and if you tell your tenant you need access to "inspect" for such and such, they can say that you rented them an uninhabitable space hence you need to inspect things. Just remember that the tenant has aright to "quiet enjoyment" and if you breach that you in big trouble.

@Thomas s

If you owned a home in California you would learn real quick that your statement of "Tenants have no right to expect uninterrupted privacy when renting someone else's property. That is illogical thinking. Privacy comes with home ownership. " is totally false, California thinking like that would get you sued by every tenant you had, the law implies whether statedin the lease or not that a tenant has the right to quiet enjoyment and the only reason the landlord can request entry is  in an emergency

To.make agreed upon repairs

To show.the unit

Or if they have waterfilled furniture

Nothing else, period!!!

And unfortunately @Henri Meli in California if you property manager is showing up every 3 months requesting to take pictures, you would probably be in hot water also, most of you should never consider buying a home in California, lol, 

You should have semi-annual inspections in your lease (something to consider when you renew the lease). You should be using that time to change the air filters and batteries in the smoke detectors. If it is not already in the lease, call the tenant to ask to do so. I don’t think many tenants would be upset by you wanting to do that stuff, and it will give you an opportunity to check everything out.

I am glad that you occasionally drive by the property. It is important to have periodic unscheduled drivebys.


Our regulations in Ontario are just as crippling as yours are in CA.

Tenants own landlords if you do not know how to properly deal with people. This does not mean I can not do as I please it simply means you do it smart. First you never allow any tenant to do any work on or have any responsibilities in regards to property maintenance. Smoke detectors need to be inspected, filters need to be changed etc. You never allow a tenant to take on those responsibilities and you do not have to.

Secondly you learn that to be successful you must stroke people. If you are a good landlord and you stroke your tenants when you show up, after having given notice, they should be welcoming you in with open arms and offering you a coffee, mine all do. If they are not receptive I have made a mistake during screening and must fix that problem.

If you can not operate your business as you deem necessary by getting your tenants on board to view your actions as being a attentive landlord you are not cut out for the business.  

Establish your business practice, explain your practices to applicants along with the reasoning, screen to fit those practices, stroke people so they believe everything you do is for their benefit. Then stroke them some more.

Rules do not matter when everyone is in agreement. 

I have other business practices to deal with tenants that I have improperly screened and turn out to be non receptive to my normal policies. 

Updated over 3 years ago

Sorry problems posting I meant... James

I had a duplex years ago, had a company renting both units for disabled tenants.  They paid rent on time every month from a corp account, and had their own maintenance crew.  I inspected interiors one time.  They replaced things with their maintenance crew...carpet completely black with stains, and it was carpet they replaced once before and not what was there when they moved in 6 months prior.  One of the tenants put a fist through a door and they replaced it.  Stained wood plain doors throughout, and they put a white panel door on.  I was just thinking of all the money I'd have to re-fix what they did not do right.  That bugged me.  They paid great, no issues otherwise, other than I was losing sleep over what I'd have to fix. 

Since then, I don't check inside any of mine.  I'll drive by and view the outside occasionally, but otherwise, I'll not lose sleep over it and fix it when they are gone.  I take videos of before and after, so if it becomes that bad, I'll pursue legal action.  Many times it will cost more for me to evict them than to let them run the lease out.  However, I do my best to screen tenants prior to move in.  I do more than most up front to try and avoid being in that situation.  It's not perfect, but I consider at what point I"m really going to try and get them out, vs the sleep I lose over it.  Attorney fees, etc. or repair costs to fix.  It's a tough decision.

If you're going to do it, in my opp, makes sense, again in my opp, to either do it like others suggest above and go in and do smoke detector batteries, hvac filters, etc. each 3 months and let them know up front.  That will hopefully keep them honest.  Or don't go in at all.  I wouldn't go in so seldom that it's just going to cause you to see things you will lose sleep over and fret on how to evict them.

Personally, I won't go in in the first 12 months, but when my lease goes to month to month, then I can get them out with more urgency if there is an issue.  That is when I'm more apt to inspect, but after 12 months, you usually know if you have someone caring for the house or not.

California has weird laws.  lol.  A property owner should be able to inspect their own property whenever they want with proper notice.  Obviously it should not be at the harrassment of the tenant.

I would write a clause in your lease that states that Tenants agree to semi-annual inspections.  At the very least, inspect at the lease renewal.

@Mark Mueller

Shame you put so much effort into screening and then do not make any effort to develop a professional relationship and do your follow up responsibilities. You basically neglect your tenants and your investment. Blind trust I suppose is a good sleeping pill the problem is in the end you have more damage to attempt to get out of your tenants than if you bill as you go along. You also risk far greater hidden damage (water as a example) than a responsible landlord would have. 

You trust tenants will be responsible in maintaining your property ( furnace/AC filters, smoke detectors, water leaks etc.) and report issue when in fact tenants can never be trusted to do any of those things. Your properties are a ticking time bomb that should keep you up at night.

However stress free investing is the goal and it is understandable that paying for repairs is easier than doing inspections and billing tenants. 

Fortunately, being a hands on landlord, I never lose any sleep either.

Originally posted by @Thomas S. :

@Mark Mueller

Shame you put so much effort into screening and then do not make any effort to develop a professional relationship and do your follow up responsibilities. You basically neglect your tenants and your investment. Blind trust I suppose is a good sleeping pill the problem is in the end you have more damage to attempt to get out of your tenants than if you bill as you go along.

 Everyone has the right to an opinion, I was just expressing mine.  In my experience, I found that neglect and non payment of rent often go hand in hand.  So you're essentially working to evict them anyway.  I also found that, if I care too much, I need to get out of this business.  It will drive me crazy.  Everyone is different and each person has to run their business in their own way, and what suits them and makes each one of us successful.  You have your ways, and that doesn't mean that anyone that doesn't do it your way is wrong or should be ashamed of how they run their business.

"Everyone has the right to an opinion,"

I do not believe we are in complete disagreement simply because we operate our business differently.

You are correct and I agree my opinion is not worth any more or less than yours. No reason why it should I was simply stating what I believe to be fact. 

We do disagree on why we operate our business differently. Payment of rent is certainly no indication what so ever of a individuals level of neglect. Often it is designed to keep landlords away.

Right or wrong is relative, shame is a emotion that has no place in business. I used "shame" only as a expression of opinion not that you should take it personally. 

Thanks for all the replies. I thought about getting the ac filters change and smoke detector batteries as an excuse.

However, my lease says tenants are responsible for those items. So I probably cant use that excuse. I don’t believe they do it though.

Maybe I should just wait another 6 months when their lease is expired and check it out.

Its a lesson learned for me. Will change my lease clauses that allows me to get in there somehow. Like once every 6 months or so.

Thanks all.

I make quarterly inspections in my units. It is in the lease and agreed on by both parties. I have had positive feedback as I go through a checklist and have repairs made in a timely fashion; sometimes things not yet noticed by the tenant. 

I change filters and smoke alarm batteries as well while there. There are a lot of reasons I am happy not to live in California. You guys just added another to my list!

I go in every 6 months (with notice).  I check for plumbing leaks and smoke alarms, primarily.  But I also digest the surroundings while I am in there.

The clause in my lease:

 ______ 13. RIGHT TO ENTER: You consent to our entering your apartment during reasonable hours for any inspections (by us or prospective buyers or renters), maintenance and repairs, pest control, for delivering notices, and for other purposes as provided by law. When advance notice of 24 hours or greater is given, all dogs in the unit must be crated/kenneled. Routine safety/maintenance inspections will be scheduled.

Im new landlord too. If we give notice to enter for maintenance do the tenant have to agree and open the door for us to enter or we just enter it at the scheduled time no matter what if the tenant is home or not?

@Tony H. , with all due respect to those outside of California, as @Cara Lonsdale noted above, California has weird laws aka very tenant friendly laws.  I am a California real estate attorney, broker, and investor.  I can't comment on your specific case, but can confirm some general information.  The post by @James Rogers appears to be taken from the California Department of Consumer Affairs Landlord Tenant Book, which is a great, free resource available online, which you should google and download.  Note carefully two of the ways to gain entry to the rental unit: "To show the rental unit to prospective tenants, purchasers, or lenders, to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit" and advance written notice is not required when "The tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry."  Those are probably the two best ways for one to gain access to a property during the tenancy.