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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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I live in a with a small yard. Landlord recently had

Customer Question

I live in a triplex with a small yard. Landlord recently had the exterior of the fence around my backyard painted. The fence has a climbing plant on it called "Cats Claw" which grows like a weed. It covers any other tree or bush in its way. I recently trimmed it back (which I did last summer) and it exposed a portion of the fence that was not painted due to the plant. My landlord's husband got upset and informed us that he is having his painter come out and repaint the fence and that we have to pay for it. My lease is between the wife, whom is the owner of the property and the only one that signed the lease between my husband and myself. I write out my rent checks (always current) to the wife, which she initially told us to do.
Today while my husband and I were at work, the husband came to the door and told my son that he had to see our backyard. Never gave us 24 hours advance notice, just demanded he let him in.
Can you please give me some advice on how to handle this situation? What can I legally do to the husband that had no right to enter my home while we were not home? Are we legally responsible for the painting of the fence?
Thank you in advance for your assistance.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer,Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to assisting you today.Unfortunately, the husband is very likely acting as an "agent" for his wife. As an agent, the husband is going to be entitled to enter the property on behalf of the landlord (just as a hired handyman or contractor, or property manager would be entitled to do).The lack of providing proper notice prior to entry is an issue, unfortunately (and this is one of these things that is practical information as opposed to strictly legal information) - there isn't a lot that tenants can do about this one. While landlords are "required" to give advance notice, it is time consuming (even going through the small claims courts) for a tenant to prosecute a case, and the courts are reluctant to do anything about it unless there is a lengthy pattern of abuse. (If a lengthy pattern of abuse does occur, you can sue your landlord for "breach of the implied warranty of quiet enjoyment" - this is the cause of action that would encompass the failure to provide proper notice and the demand for entry in the manner you identified).With regard to the demand for you to pay for the additional paint, this is a little more complicated. You say that your lease does not say anything about prohibiting you from cutting back the plant, but more specifically, does your lease say that you can? (Look for something in your lease about the tenant being responsible for yard care or yard maintenance or care of vegetation or something along those lines). If the lease says that you are responsible for caring for the plants, you can easily claim that this is exactly what you were doing and that the landlord is therefore responsible for whatever additional costs or expenses arise from maintaining the fence after you cut back the plant. If they wanted to minimize these costs they should have either brought in a yard crew to do this prior to painting or coordinated with you prior to the original painting.If the lease does not say this (and the landlord is the one responsible for the plants), this is a little tougher, because this means that you really shouldn't be cutting the plants (the landlord doesn't have to put in a clause telling you not to cut plants if you aren't responsible for the yard care, you shouldn't be cutting the landlord's plants, they are already paying someone to care for their plants in the way they want it), and you may end up having to pay for the cost of the subsequent painting.