The law which applies specifically to entries by a landlord or their agents for a residential tenancy is found at California Civil Code Section 1954. The law in relevant part states:
“(a) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases: (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 an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5; (3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises; or (4) Pursuant to court order.”
Written notice is required and a tenant must be provided notice at least 24 hours before any legal entry. All entries must be made during regular business hours. You have a right to be present and you can attempt to delay an entry to allow for you to present. However, be very careful, because a landlord can attempt to evict you if you are making a regular practice of not allowing legitimate entries on dates which your landlord has noticed such entries.
If a landlord has listed your building or home for sale, Civil Code Section 1954(d)(2) states: “If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above.
Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.”
Some tenants in San Francisco and other jurisdictions have protested during showings by realtors with signage and other acts. Tenants do have certain First Amendment rights to protest (in the Bill of Rights), however there are other laws and legal theories which a landlord could use to repress or suppress certain tenant activities or under which they might attempt to evict you, thus we recommend that you consult with an attorney before protesting a showing by your landlord.