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

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

A: No, in a self pay sober living home in California, a landlord or house manager cannot legally search through a tenant's belongings without their permission.

California tenants have a reasonable expectation of privacy and protection against unreasonable searches of their rental unit and possessions under the state's civil code. This generally includes residents of transitional housing like sober living homes.

Searches of a tenant's private spaces or belongings without consent, a warrant, or an emergency justification are usually considered unreasonable and unlawful. The exception would be if illegal items were clearly visible in plain sight, meeting the standard for probable cause.

However, simply looking for prohibited items like alcohol based on speculation or program rules does not give sober living home staff the right to search a resident's unit or property without permission. Random, unauthorized searches risk violating California civil codes protecting tenants against invasion of privacy.

So in this situation, unless other credible evidence is provided, it appears the sober living operator improperly searched the tenant's belongings without consent or legal cause. While this may not invalidate an eviction, it could constitute grounds for a civil rights complaint against the landlord or facility.

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