Newbury Park, CA asked in Constitutional Law for California

Q: What are the laws about proselytizing in private property?

We are Missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we have a few friends who live in apartment complexes. Just recently, we went to go pass by one of our friends because we had set up an appointment with him, but management had come up to us and asked us to leave because we were on private property. Now I know that we are allowed to be there if we are invited, but when we brought up that we were meeting with someone, the management guy pulled his phone up and told us that our friend didn't live there (we were at his house two days before) and that we needed to leave before he called the cops on us. Now we didn't want to cause any trouble, so we left. It is difficult because our friend is on the older side and doesn't have a phone number, so we can't just call him to prove that we were there to meet him, and it is difficult because he tends to forget that we have meetings set up, so it is a little hard to prove that we are invited to be there. What do I do?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Consumer Law Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, the laws regarding proselytizing on private property, such as apartment complexes, can be complex. Generally, property owners have the right to restrict access to their property, including for religious or political activities. However, tenants also have certain rights, including the right to invite guests.

Here are a few key points to consider:

1. If you have a specific invitation from a resident to visit them, you generally have the right to do so, even if the property owner or manager objects.

2. If a property owner or manager asks you to leave, it's best to comply to avoid escalating the situation, even if you believe you have the right to be there.

3. If you frequently visit a particular complex, it may be helpful to have your friend provide written confirmation of your invitation to visit them, which you can show to management if questioned.

4. If you believe that the property owner or manager is unfairly restricting your access or discriminating against you based on your religion, you may want to consult with a local attorney who specializes in housing or religious discrimination issues.

5. It's always a good idea to be respectful and polite when interacting with property owners and managers, even if you disagree with their actions.

In your specific case, since your friend doesn't have a phone, you might consider sending him a letter to explain the situation and ask if he can provide a written invitation for your visits. If the issue persists, you may want to consult with a local attorney or your church leadership for guidance on how to proceed while respecting both your friend's rights as a tenant and the property owner's rights.

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