Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Landlord Caught on Camera Drinking Tenant's Liquor

Here's something that would have you questioning your roommate: coming home to find that your alcohol bottles are drained and finding puddles of urine on the floor. This is exactly what happened to a couple living in an apartment in Half Moon Bay. For months, Paul Arihara and Leina Sarafina would notice their alcohol bottles getting lower and would smell urine. At first, Arihara blamed Sarafina for secretly drinking the liquor and her dogs for the smell of urine. But, after her denials, the couple decided to set up cameras to record their apartment while they weren't home.

As it turns out, it was their landlord who would come in to drink their liquor right out of the bottle, and also allow his dog to urinate on their floor. As if that's not bad enough, the cameras also caught the landlord snooping through their belongings and entering their bedroom. Not only is the landlord's behavior unnerving and gross, it's also illegal.

When Can a Landlord Legally Enter a Tenant's Apartment?

There are times when a landlord is allowed to enter a tenant's apartment, including to make agreed-upon repairs, to show the apartment to prospective tenants, and if the landlord has a court order.

While landlord-tenant laws vary by location, unless there's an emergency, a landlord is generally required to give notice before entering a tenant's apartment. And, entering tenants' apartments to drink their liquor, rifle through their things, or let a dog urinate in their home, are definitely not valid reasons for entering their apartments -- whether there's notice or not. If a landlord does enter an apartment when he or she doesn't have the right to, the landlord may be arrested and charged with trespassing.

What If the Landlord Isn't Charged With a Crime?

Even if a landlord isn't charged with a crime, it's possible to hold the landlord responsible for his or her actions by filing a civil lawsuit. In the case of the Half Moon Bay couple, the landlord hasn't been charged with a crime, but the tenants plan on filing a lawsuit against the landlord. While details of the planned lawsuit have not been provided in various news reports, it can be assumed that they'll claim that their right to privacy was violated. Depending on the terms of the lease, the couple may also be able to claim that the landlord broke the lease agreement.

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