The Tenant Protection Ordinance in Oakland prohibits landlords from substantially and directly interfering with a tenant’s right to quiet use and enjoyment of their apartment. You cannot enter a tenant’s home without proper notice and a lawful purpose.
But, you will surely want to inspect your property from time to time to make sure it’s being well-maintained and the lease is being respected. How can you navigate this as an Oakland rental property owner?
We have some ideas and some tips on inspecting your Oakland apartment without violating the tenant’s privacy and right to quiet enjoyment.
Inspect the Property When You’re Performing Maintenance
Oakland landlords are permitted to enter their tenant’s unit in order to conduct or complete agreed-upon repairs. When your tenant makes a maintenance request because an appliance isn’t working or a sink is dripping, take this opportunity to informally look around the home. You can get a good idea about whether the tenant is taking care of it. You’ll also notice any lease violations, such as smoking or unauthorized pets.
Train your vendors to do quick and subtle inspections as well. When you have a good plumber as part of your maintenance team, you can ask them to check other potential plumbing issues in the apartment while they’re over there. This will provide them with the opportunity to walk through the home and report anything that looks out of the ordinary.
Remember that written notice is required before you enter the tenant’s home.
Inspect the Property During a Pre-Move Out Walk Through
The tenant has the right to request a pre-move out walk through before they vacate the property. This is your opportunity to assess any damage that was incurred during the course of the tenancy. Many landlords dread this, but you should do the walk-through happily. You and your tenant will look at the same damage and talk about what needs to be done or how much can be expected to be withheld from the security deposit. Always offer this walk through to the tenant, not only because it’s legally required, but also because it will give you an opportunity to get into the property before the tenant moves out. You can estimate how much time it will take to complete the turnover before marketing to a new tenant.
General Inspections are Not Permitted in Oakland Rental Properties
Under current law, simply inspecting for no reason or because you want to conduct an annual inspection is not a permissible reason for entry. You need a specific reason to go inside the apartment, and that specific reason needs to be documented in writing. You cannot say it’s a general inspection, and if you’re unable to provide a legitimate purpose for accessing the property, the tenant can refuse to allow you into the apartment.
Maintaining a habitable rental property is your responsibility. That means you can schedule an inspection specifically to inspect the plumbing, maintain the electrical wiring, or test the smoke detectors. You still need to provide 24 hours of notice to the tenant, and you still need to be explicit about what you’re going to look at and why you’re going inside.
It’s easy to make an expensive mistake when you’re trying to inspect your Oakland rental property. If you have any questions about balancing your tenants’ rights with your right to protect your investment, please contact us at California Pacific Realty.