Sorry, CitiApartments, “Routine Inspections” Are Illegal

Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com

I’ve rented the same apartment from Citi Properties for 6 years. Up until about 6 months ago, they kept the building tidy, had an on-site manager, and did monthly bug inspections. Now they’re trying to sell the building and they have gotten rid of all that stuff. The only thing they do now is “inspect” each unit once a month. Here’s what they post on my door once a month:

Citi Properties, LLC 2099 Market Street S.F., CA 94114 January 22nd, 2010

24 Hour Notice of Entry

(Civil Code Section 1954)

To: all occupants

There will be a building inspection of all units and the common area’s on Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 at 11:00AM. If you have any questions, please contact Jorge Castillo at 415-308-0908.

Thank you for your cooperation.

First, they only did this every year or two, now they’re doing it once a month. Second, what are they inspecting for? And more importantly: do they really have a right to come into my home once a month? It’s always during the day of a weekday, so I can’t be home to see what’s going on. But one time my toilet seat was left up. It didn’t bother me, but it did peak my interest. Whenever I call the number listed I get vague answers and a promise to call back, which doesn’t happen. Any insight would be gladly appreciated.

 

Good question. What are they inspecting for? First, I hope you understand who you’re dealing with. A Citi by any other name just stinks. These guys ought to know better by now. They probably do but, as we all know, they just don’t give a rat’s ass about the law. The reason they are inspecting your unit is simple–they’re looking for a reason to evict you because, in their eyes, you’ve lived there too long and your rent is too low. They’re looking for your bong!

 

California Civil Code 1954 states that a landlord can only enter your unit:
(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 a tenant requested move-out inspection.
(3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
(4) Pursuant to court order.

 

Except in the case of an emergency or abandonment, the landlord must give you a 24-hour written notice that includes the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. As you can see, the example notice you provided is defective because it does not in include the purpose of the entry. Routine inspections violate California law.

 

You should read, The Unnecessary Conflict in Landlord Entries, by J. Wallace Oman, a respected tenant attorney here in San Francisco. In the article he points out that landlords have no inherent right to inspection:

 

“Under old common-law doctrines, when the parties enter into a rental agreement, the landlord grants a right of “exclusive possession” to the tenant against everyone, including the property owner. The landlord additionally promises the tenant “quiet enjoyment”; the term guarantees that the landlord will not permit or do anything that interferes with the tenant’s peace and quiet in the rental unit.”

 

He also proposes effective methods to deal with entries during the sale of a building.

 

For a lighter (more outraged?) take on the subject, check out my blog entry from last year, Even Dracula Had to Have an Invite Before He Could Enter.

 

You and all of the tenants in the building should write a letter to the management citing the law and letting them know that you’re not going to put up with monthly entries any longer. You should also remind them that California Civil Code 1940.2(a)(4)states that it is unlawful for a landlord to commit a significant and intentional violation of section1954 for the purpose of influencing a tenant to vacate a dwelling. And that it provides for civil penalties of up to $2,000.00 per violation.

 

You and all of the tenants should also contact CitiStop the tenacious tenants’ organizers who helped bring down the Lembi empire.

 

While you’re at it, point out to the geniuses at Citi…whatever that you don’t need an apostrophe to pluralize a word.

 

 

 

Crow & Rose's legal practice emphasizes eviction defense, wrongful eviction and other landlord tenant and real property matters.

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