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Should You Call the Authorities on Your Troublesome Tenants?

Camarillo Police Officers with Cruisers Outside a Residential HomeFor single-family rental home investors in Camarillo, thoroughly screening your tenants is one of the best ways to mitigate future problems. But the truth is that after all your best efforts, there’s still a huge possibility that you will face a problem tenant or two. In case things between you and your tenant do go irredeemably wrong, you may wonder whether it is appropriate to call the police on your tenant. Before you pick up the phone, however, you should understand some of the key differences between standard laws and landlord/tenant laws.

In most states, tenants have certain protections granted to them by law. This means that if you violate a tenant’s rights, even if you feel justified in doing so, you could end up being the one in trouble with the law instead of your tenant. For instance, you may assume that a tenant who overstays their lease is legally trespassing on your property and can be removed by the police. However, you can’t do it as easily as that.

Once you’ve rented a property to a tenant, the police have no authority to remove them from the property. This is because you have given up certain rights to the property while it is occupied by the tenant. This holds true even if their lease has expired and you have requested that they vacate the property. In such circumstances, regular trespassing laws do not apply. In order to force the tenant to vacate the property, you will have to legally evict them by getting yourself a court order.

One more key difference between standard laws and landlord/tenants laws concern how and when you can access a leased property, or give permission for others to do so. In most states, landlord/tenant laws require property owners to give advance notice prior to entering an occupied rental home. Unplanned and unannounced visits are typically illegal, no matter the reason. This same provision extends to police officers and others who may want access to the home.

Under standard laws, the property owner is the one who has the authority to grant access to the property. But tenant/landlord laws give this right to the tenant. Under most conditions, landlords do not have the authority to invite the police or anyone else into the property without the tenant’s permission. The one exception to this rule is in an emergency situation; police or emergency personnel may legally enter the rental house if someone inside is in dire need of assistance.

Despite these protections, however, there may be times when calling the police on your tenant is necessary. For example, if you encounter a situation that you feel is putting anyone in danger, it may be time to call the police. As a property owner, most conflicts can be resolved in a professionally and respectfully. However, if you ever feel that your personal safety or that of your tenant, a neighbor, or someone else is under threat, contact the proper authorities.

The same thing is true if you uncover that your tenant is involved in criminal activity. Landlord/tenant laws do not protect tenants from being held accountable for their illegal activities. If you have grounds to believe that the tenant is likely caught up in an activity such as illegal drug use or distribution, or any other clear violations of both your lease and the law, it is time to contact the authorities and tell them what you know. They can then help you secure the property in accordance with local laws. Just bear in mind that criminal charges, if any, are distinct from the legal process of eviction. Even if your tenant is arrested or sent to jail, you will still have to go through the full eviction process to regain control of your rental property. Being arrested does not alter your tenant’s rights to occupy the property under landlord/tenant law.

Although no property owner wants a rental situation to end up this way, it is good to be informed and prepared just in case. Tenant relations can be a challenge and are always one of the most time-consuming parts of a landlord’s job. But help is always there.

Real Property Management Ventura County can assist property owners with all aspects of tenant relations. Our Camarillo property management professionals will work with your tenants, handling any unfortunate incidents that may arise. This will save you time and, as they say, time is money. To learn more, contact us online or call us at 805-387-3682
for more information.

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