Landlord / Tenants Rights

Locks and Landlord Access to a Rental Unit

Landlords do not have a right to hold a key to a tenant’s rental unit. A renter has the right of exclusive possession. Under California Civil Code Section 1954 the landlord and/or agents of the landlord have only limited rights of entry. They can not enter a tenant’s home without prior consent and they must provide 24 hours written notice. Even with notice and consent the landlord and/or agents may only enter to make necessary or agreed upon repairs, to show the unit to prospective buyers, renters, contractors, or mortgage holders, after the renter has permanently vacated the unit, or when the landlord has a court order authorizing such entry.

Good Faith

There are a number of specific conditions that must be met for a property owner to use owner occupancy as Just Cause for evicting a tenant.  One condition that must be met post Proposition G (which went into effect Nov 1998) is that, for an owner-occupancy eviction to be valid, the occupying owners must act in good faith.

Eviction & Condo Conversion Status

In 2006, Mayor Gavin Newsom signed into law legislation that limits a property owners options regarding condo conversion for a building that has evictions on its record. Any condo conversion of a building that has had –since May 1, 2005- either multiple evictions of tenants or any single eviction involving a senior or disabled person is ineligible for condo conversion.  It is important to note that this rule applies regardless of whether the existing property owner is the evicting landlord or not.   

Ellis Act Requirements

There are a number of requirements a landlord must follow in an Ellis eviction:

  • The landlord must remove all units in a building from the rental market.
  • The landlord can not single out one tenant (for example the one with low rent) or remove just one unit form the market. It is all or nothing.
  • After invoking Ellis, the landlord can not re-rent the unit for more money than the evicted renter was paying for a period of five years following the eviction.
  • The landlord may not invoke the Ellis Act during a fixed term lease.
  • Important! - In 2006 Mayor Gavin Newsom signed legislation making buildings with evictions ineligible for condo conversion. As many Ellis evictions are invoked for the purpose of eventual condo conversion this severely limits the options for landlords seeking to “Ellis” their properties. The legislation prohibits any conversion of a building which has had, since May 1, 2005, either multiple evictions or any single eviction of a senior or disabled tenant. These eviction prohibitions will become part of the basic eligibility criteria for condo conversions.


Ellis Act Procedures

For a landlord to evict a tenant under the Ellis Act they must do two things concurrently. First they must evict the tenant and second they must legally remove the building from the rental marketplace.