Legal Question in Business Law in California

Definition of ''normal business hours'' in a residential lease agreement

As a landlord for a residential property my month-to-month rental agreement states that I may have access to property to show it to prospective new tenants during normal business hours provided that I give the current tenant 24 hour advance notice.

Two local attorneys, both specializing in representing landlords, have given me two very different answers.

The first said that since we are involved in a ''retail'' type of transaction, that a court would likely consider ''normal business hours'' 9:00am to 5:00pm,(possibly 6:00pm) Monday through Saturday and possibly include Sunday.

The second opinion while very specific seems to escape logic. He said, ''Monday through Friday from sunrise to sunset''. This answer, while very explicit, would allow me access as early as 5:30am to 9:00pm in the Summer and even on the shortest day of the year as early as 7:30am.

I would appreciate it if you could shed some light on these two very different answers.

Thanks in advance for your attention to this matter.

Asked on 2/01/02, 10:11 pm

3 Answers from Attorneys

James Burns R. Zebulon Law & Associates

Re: Definition of ''normal business hours'' in a residential lease agreement

Dear Landlord:

There are no hard and fast rules for this. If the exact times are not provided for in the lease agreement, then it relies on argument. The sundown to sunset is a good argument and only a fact-finder can determine what "business hours" are within the facts of a given situation. I would have a good and specific lease drafted for the future to remedy any ambiguities.

Read more
Answered on 2/01/02, 10:42 pm

Bryan Whipple Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law

Re: Definition of ''normal business hours'' in a residential lease agreement

The expression 'normal business hours' is not defined in the applicable statute (Civil Code section 1954) nor did I find any case law on the subject. Two landlord-tenant guidebooks give 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. as 'normal business hours' without citing any authority ..... but at least one of the books would be considered citable authority (Rutter's California Practice Manual on landlord-tenant matters). Sunrise to sunset makes no sense; in the old days burglary could only be committed at night, so some lawyers may have this bit of law-school theory stuck in their heads.

Read more
Answered on 2/01/02, 11:05 pm
Ken Koenen Koenen & Tokunaga, P.C.

Re: Definition of ''normal business hours'' in a residential lease agreement

Logic is the key word here.

If you want the present tenants cooperation, take $100 of the rent each month if they will allow you to show the property from noon to 7 PM.

That will make them happy, and it is cheaper than asking 2 attorneys for their opinion.

Read more
Answered on 2/02/02, 1:03 am

Related Questions & Answers

More Business Law questions and answers in California