Friday, November 1, 2013
A landlord plans to inspect rental units for bed bugs with a trained dog. But one tenant says doing so would violate her religious beliefs. The LA Times looks for answers under California law:
The answer to this question requires a balancing act. Your legal duty to respect your tenant's religious beliefs must be balanced against your duty as a landlord to take timely and reasonable steps to maintain the habitability of the rental premises. Under Civil Code Section 1941, that duty requires you to provide premises free from vermin infestation to all your tenants.
If you give proper written notice under Civil Code Section 1954, you have a right to enter the rental unit to address the vermin issue. A tenant would ordinarily have no right to object or refuse entry. Assuming you have correctly concluded that using a dog for the bedbug inspection is an appropriate and effective means of inspecting for bedbugs and that there is no effective alternative at the same cost, your plan does not constitute religious discrimination.