60 Notice to Terminate Tenancy:
Effective January 1, 2003, if you have been a tenant in CA for one
year or more your landlord must provide you with a 60 days notice to
terminate your tenancy. The 30 day rule still applies to tenants who
occupy the residence for less than one year.
PET LAW-MOBILE HOME
In California, a mobile home park
may not refuse permission to a tenant to have "at least one pet
within the park, subject to reasonable rules and regulations of the
park". Also, a condominium or
"common interest development" project may not refuse an owner
the right to have "at least one pet within the development, subject
to the reasonable rules and regulations of the association.." These
new rules only apply, however, to leases or common interest documents
(e.g. C.C.& R.'s) executed, modified or amended after 1/1/01).
LANDLORD/TENANT LAW-SECURITY DEPOSITS
Landlords routinely require a Security Deposit to be posted
as a condition of the rental agreement. In California, for residential
tenancies, a Landlord may charge up to two times the monthly rent for
unfurnished (three times for furnished) rental units.
The deposit is held until the Tenant moves out. The money is then
supposed to be refunded within 21 days of moving out, less deductions
for rent owing and charges for cleaning or repairing damages caused by
excessive wear and tear. The deposit generally transfers
to successive owners. A non-refundable deposit is not allowed. Thus, it
is refundable no matter what the contract says.
In some jurisdictions, the Landlord must pay interest on the deposit.
Here, a Landlord may mix the money with his own and use it as he/she
pleases. When the money does not have to be held in a separate account,
Landlords sometimes find it difficult to freely refund the Tenant's
money when required to do so, especially if they have already spent it!
Thus, while many Landlords do handle these funds responsibly, there are
many that do not and play some games including the following:
1. Keep the money. The Landlord simply decides to keep the money without
cause to do so. This is based on the
theory that most Tenants will not bother to take legal action
to chase after the money.
2. Let's renovate. The Landlord wishes to improve the rental unit at the
Tenant's expense. Items that need
simple repair are replaced or improved and the Tenant is charged
the full cost.
3. I forgot. The Landlord forgets all the pre-existing problems that
existed upon move-in and now blames
them on the departing tenant.
4. I made up the numbers. The Landlord did not actually incur charges
but feels that he could incur them,
someday. So he makes up charges like $100 for general cleaning, $150 for
carpet cleaning, $100 for trash removal etc. It adds up fast. You get
Tenants should act to protect their deposit money. One popular method is
to use the deposit for your last months rent. Unfortunately, this is not
legal without the Landlords consent. There are several things Tenants
can do to protect their deposits.
Just call Mr. Radoff's office for assistance
before you sign that lease (800) 595-2948.
This is the process whereby a landlord forces a tenant to
move out of the rental. It can be a traumatic event. Sometimes there are
good reasons to evict a tenant. Other times, the tenant faces an
eviction because, unfortunately, the law in many California
jurisdictions allows a landlord to evict a tenant for no reason.
An eviction judgment remaining on the tenant's record could make it very
difficult to rent any other rental home for the next 7-10 years! As a
tenant, you do not want one of these following you around on your record
when you apply to rent anywhere.
Most all eviction cases (Unlawful Detainers) must be preceded by an
eviction notice. The notable exception is at the end of a lease where
generally no special notice is required.
Notices may demand something certain like, for example, a direction to
move out within 30 days (in month to month tenancies). In many
jurisdictions, no reason is needed for the eviction,
but illegal reasons like retaliation or discrimination may invalidate
the eviction and even give rise to a case against the landlord for such
acts. In many government subsidized and rent control jurisdictions,
valid grounds for the eviction are required to be
alleged and proved. Other notices may demand the tenant to vacate in
only three days when illegal activity, nuisance or waste is alleged in
Notices may also give the tenant an opportunity to cure a breach of the
contract to prevent the eviction. In this type of notice, the tenant has
an opportunity to save the tenancy by curing the breach. Such curing
action of the tenant includes paying rent or other lease charges,
refraining from doing something improper or even to do something
If the tenant disagrees with the notice and remains in the property, a
court eviction lawsuit called an Unlawful Detainer will follow. Of
course a technically defective notice may spell doom for the landlords
case IF the tenant's case is prepared and presented properly
to legally attack the defect. If not, the landlord will usually
"get away" with it and win a judgment even with a bad or
illegal case! A court order is needed for an eviction. A landlord in
California is not allowed to physically force a tenant out on there
own for any reason.
There are things a tenant's can do to protect themselves to reduce the
risk of eviction.
Many tenants simply move out and do not fight the case thinking this
will solve the problem. Do not make this mistake. Simply moving out may
mean a judgment will be taken without the tenant even knowing what
happened until it's too late.
Tenants should defend their cases in court to try and prevent an
eviction judgment (which would severely hurt their credit) BUT tenants
should never represent themselves in court in an eviction case. I know
that sounds very self serving coming from an attorney's office but a
tenant without an attorney will lose the case or agree to a bad
settlement almost all the time regardless of the potential rights or
defenses. This is a simple truth we are faced with. I do not blame the
courts because we have many fine judges here. The reality is that the
laws and procedures of Landlord Tenant are very technical and move
quickly. Because of this, there are so many traps for the lay person to
fall into that once fallen, the tenant will usually not get up until
it's too late.
LANDLORD/TENANT LAW-RIGHT OF PRIVACY
The right to Privacy is a very important one. It means
protection of personal information and against unwanted or excessive
intrusions into the home by a Landlord or his/her agents.
Private information of tenants is normally given in the application
process. Information about income, bank accounts debts, etc. is
routinely provided when completing rental applications. While the right
of privacy is waived for the purpose of the application, it is not
waived as to the world. Thus, the law protects tenants in that a
Landlord should not share that information with others.
Renting a home means that the tenant has bought, for a time, the
exclusive right to possess that home. The landlord has legal title and
the tenant has a form of possessor title to the property. That means
the tenant has the exclusive right of possession of the home.
Thus, people can not enter without special permission or statutory
authority to do so.
In California, at least 24 hours notice is required for each intended
entry. There is no special notice needed in emergencies. Specifically
allowable reasons are needed for each entry. (See California Civil Code
1954 below). The right of entry must not be abused.
There is no general right in California to carry out routine inspections
of the rental unit except that a waterbed installation may be inspected.
CIVIL CODE section 1954.
A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:
(a) In case of emergency.
(b) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or
improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the
dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants,
workmen or contractors.
(c) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
(d) Pursuant to court order. Except in cases of emergency or when the
tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, entry may not be made
during other than normal business
hours unless the tenant consents at the time of entry.
The landlord shall not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the
tenant. Except in cases of emergency, when the tenant has abandoned or
surrendered the premises, or if it is impracticable to do so, the
landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice of his intent to enter
and enter only during normal business hours. Twenty-four hours shall be
presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the contrary.
Discrimination is simply the different treatment of
individuals based n their membership in a class or based on something
unique to them as individuals. Discrimination is not necessarily
illegal. Some discrimination is perfectly legal. The basic rule to
determine which is legal verses illegal is as follows:
Generally, illegal discrimination is when someone is treated differently
simply due to his or her membership in a class based on a protected
characteristic. For example, such characteristics includes race,
national origin, color, age, gender, religion, family status,
disability etc. These are characteristics, which are either impossible
or at least very difficult to control or change.
Now, legal discrimination is where a person is treated differently due
to a behavioral characteristic such as credit record, past behavior as a
tenant, wealth and job security etc. These are matters essentially
within the control of the individual.
Of course, there are exceptions and unique variations within both groups
but the rules remain basically applicable. One could argue that certain
disabilities are caused by behavior (i.e. illness from smoking) or that
certain protected characteristics are easily
changed (i.e. changing religion, family status etc.). This is one reason
why discrimination law can be very complex.
Fair Housing Laws cover discrimination in renting. These laws are found
in both Federal and State Laws. There are penalties for illegal
discrimination in both legal systems (Federal and State). A landlord
should not be able to evict a tenant based on an illegal discrimination.
Illegal discrimination is difficult to prove. You must first show some
differential treatment for one person as opposed to another based only
on the protected characteristic and not some other reason. Some
landlords will invent excuses for the differential treatment
so as to try and get away with what was really an improper
discrimination. For example, an eviction is filed by a new owner who is
of a different race than that of an existing tenant. If questioned, the
landlord may say he/she examined the rent payment history of the tenant
and feels it is not good enough. What is the true motive? Is it based on
the rent or the race?
Beginning on 1/1/2000, the fair housing laws here in California were
amended to include protection against discrimination regarding tenants'
income. A landlord is prohibited from discriminating against tenants
based on their SOURCE OF INCOME (i.e. public assistance, child support
etc.) Also, tenants applying for rental MUST BE TREATED AS A GROUP for
determining income qualifications. Therefore, a tenant who earns no
money can still qualify as long as his/her co-tenants qualify as a
If you feel you are the victim of illegal discrimination you may contact
the following for assistance: U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development
(H.U.D.), for California - California Department of Fair Employment and
In California, the law requires a Landlord, in a residential
tenancy, to maintain the dwelling so as to keep it in a habitable
condition. The Landlord is also generally responsible for other
"non-habitability" item repairs. The tenant will be
responsible for damages they caused by abuse or misuse of the property.
Habitable, or "Tenantable" means the dwelling is free from
substantial defects that affect the health and safety. Cosmetic defects
generally do not qualify as habitability items.
Some rental agreements attempt to make the tenant responsible for this
maintenance. These provisions are generally not valid although under
very limited circumstances, a tenant may accept a rental with certain
defects in exchange for compensation.
The general standards for habitability are set out in a law known as
Civil Code section 1941.1, which states:
A dwelling shall be deemed untenantable for purposes of Section 1941 if
it substantially lacks any of the following affirmative standard
characteristics: (a) Effective waterproofing and weather protection of
roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors. (b)
Plumbing or gas facilities, which conformed to applicable law in effect
at the time of installation, maintained in good working order. (c) A
water supply approved under applicable law, which is under the control
of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a
system which is under the control of the landlord, which produces hot
and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected
to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law. (d) Heating
facilities, which conformed to applicable law at the time of
installation, maintained in good working order. (e) Electrical lighting,
with wiring and electrical equipment which conformed with applicable law
at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
(f) Building, grounds and appurtenances at the time of the commencement
of the lease or rental agreement in every part clean, sanitary, and free
from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and
vermin, and all areas under control of the landlord kept in every part
clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth,
rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin. (g) An adequate number of
appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and
good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental
agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable
receptacles thereafter, and being responsible for the clean condition
and good repair of such receptacles
under his control. (h) Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in
In California, when the unit contains substantial defects, the tenant
has options, which include:
1. Demand repairs, preferably in writing, and after a reasonable time,
if the landlord does not repair the item, repair it and deduct the cost
from the rent.
2. Withhold the rent pending repairs.
3. Move out and declare the lease to be terminated.
There are other actions a tenant may take to
protect their rights. Call Mr. Radoff's office for assistance (800)
The above 3 options should NOT be considered without the specific
advice of Mr. Radoff to be sure they apply to any specific situation. An
error in analysis by the tenant may result in a swift eviction and a
very bad mark on their credit.
When the items in need of repair do not affect habitability, they do not
lend themselves to the above type of action. The landlord, however, may
still be in breach of contract giving rise to certain rights in favor of
More Landlord/Tenant helpful sites:
Santa Monica Rent Control
LA Rent Stabilization Board
Beverly Hills Rent Control Hotline
455 N Rexford Dr
Beverly Hills, CA 90210