Court: Landlords Have Right To Weekend Access

CASES: In a decision with implications for renter’s rights in civil actions, the California Court of Appeals has ruled that tenants must grant landlords weekend access to property so they can show it to prospective buyers. The court was actually upholding a previous decision by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan in favor of a Santa Monica condo owner. The owner had sued the tenant for refusing to allow open-house viewing on weekends, although “by appointment” viewings were allowed.
State law says renters must grant access for showings during “normal business hours.” To find that weekends fit that wording, the court found that the “community” standards were those of the real estate community. The Metropolitan News-Enterprise explains that the appeals court said that “… since the relevant community is real estate agents, and it was undisputed that those agents work on weekends, the trial judge correctly concluded that weekend hours are not excluded from the statutory definition.

Not everyone will agree with that “normal business hours” decision, and a law professor from San Diego blogged about how much power it could give a less-than-perfect landlord. Shaun Martin wrote: “Imagine that you have a tenant you don’t like. She’s got rent control. She’s got kids. She requires you to actually do repairs. Whatever. She’s a huge pest. Here’s an easy solution for you: Put the place up for sale. Set the price at 20% or so above market.  If you get a sale, great. Huge profit. That almost certainly will not happen. But like you care. You hold open house after open house.  Two weekends a month.  Like here. If it takes a year, so be it. No skin off your back. Not like you’ve got to do anything. You’re not even there.”

Read details of the case in the Met-News here.

And see Prof. Martin’s blog here.