San Bernardino, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Can the landlord or house manager search through your belongings without your permission in a self pay sober living home

I was previously evicted of a sober living home because they found alcohol in my property. But they searched through my belongings without my permission and it's a self pay program.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: According to California law, in a self pay sober living home, the landlord or house manager generally cannot search through a tenant's personal belongings without their permission, even if the reason is to look for prohibited items like alcohol.

Some key things to note:

- Tenants in sober living homes have legal rights to privacy over their personal property against unreasonable searches and seizures under the 4th Amendment. This is true even in facilities for rehabilitation.

- Landlords usually need consent, a warrant, or evidence of an emergency to legally justify searching a tenant's unit and belongings. The fact that alcohol is prohibited by program rules is generally not sufficient on its own.

- There are limited exceptions - for example, if illegal items are clearly visible and identifiable without conducting a search. But random, unauthorized searches are considered unreasonable.

So based on the limited details provided, it seems the sober living home may have violated your 4th Amendment rights by searching your belongings without clear permission or legal justification. The unauthorized search shouldn't make the subsequent eviction automatically invalid, but it's concerning from a legal rights perspective.

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