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Landlord Can Show Tenant's Property

Read the full decision: Dromy v. Lukovsky, No. B242952

A California appellate court has considered whether a landlord could access tenant’s apartment to hold an open house during the weekend.

David Dromy (“Landlord”) leased a condominium to Marina Lubovsky (“Tenant”).  The Tenant’s lease predated the Landlord’s ownership of the condominium and the apartment was subject to the local rent control ordinance.  In 2010, the Landlord listed the property for sale with licensed real estate broker Dafna Milstein (“Milstein”).  While the Tenant allowed Milstein to show the property to prospective purchasers by appointment, she refused to allow open houses on the weekends.

The Landlord filed a lawsuit seeking a judicial declaration over his rights to exhibit the property to potential purchasers.  California has a statute that allows the owner to access leased property in a number of instances, including showing the property to prospective purchasers.  Unless the tenant agrees otherwise, the landlord may only show the property during “normal business hours”.  “Normal business hours” is not defined in the statute.

The trial court ruled that the Landlord could hold open houses at the property during the weekends with reasonable notice to the tenant.  The judgment provided that: the open houses could occur between 1-4:30pm; Milstein must be present during the open houses; and the Tenant was also permitted to be present.  The Tenant appealed this ruling.

The Court of Appeals of California, Second District, affirmed the trial court.  The court looked at the legislative history of the statute.  The court found that the statute was an attempt to balance the competing interests of tenants to enjoy their residency versus the landlord’s ability to market the property. 

The court determined “normal business hours” was intended to refer to those hours where businesses in the community “generally keep their places open for the transaction of business.”  Since real estate professionals generally hold open houses on weekends, the court ruled that the trial court’s ruling was consistent with the statute.  Therefore, the court upheld the trial court ruling.

Dromy v. Lukovsky, 161 Cal. Rptr. 3d 665 (Cal. Ct. App. 2013)