How long do I have to mail the tenant the itemized security deposit?
You need to send an accounting for the use of the security deposit within 21 days from the date you took back possession. If you do not have all of the amounts or receipts in time, you should give the tenant an estimate and then send the final amount within 14 days after you receive the final amounts and/or receipts.
I have a lease with a tenant that terminates next month, and he has been given notice that the lease is not being renewed. If he does not vacate, do I serve a 3-day Notice to Quit for Breach of Covenant?
You do not have to serve any notice to quit for a tenant who holds over on a fixed term lease unless you have an automatic renewal clause in your lease.
Is there a state law that requires a landlord to professionally clean a carpet prior to reoccupancy?
No, however the tenant is obligated to leave the premises in the same state of cleanliness that the carpet was in when she moved in.
Can I give a rent increase anytime during the monthor just on the first day of the month?
If you have a month-to-month tenancy with the tenant, you can serve a written 30-day notice (or 60-day notice if you are increasing the rent more than 10% within the last 12 months) to increase the rent at any time of the month.
We are planning on selling a rental house. The tenants said they do not want a lock box put on the front door. Can we do it anyway? Do we still have to give them notice that someone is coming by to see the house?
We do not advise our clients to allow lock boxes because of potential liability. Moreover, California law requires a reasonable written notice be given to the tenants before entering. Twenty four hours is presumed to be a reasonable time.
If someone says we cannot enter his unit unless he is present, what would happen if we entered anyway? Could he sue us?
A court may consider this a violation of the right of the tenant’s privacy and allow for statutory and actual damages as well as a restraining order. The tenant may also claim broken or missing items.
I have a tenant who caused a fire in an apartment which resulted in a substantial amount of damage. The fire department concluded the tenant was at fault. Can he be liable for my deductible? And, can I take it out of his deposit?
Yes, in fact he is responsible for all losses suffered (your insurance company may want to pursue him).
I have renters who recently informed me that they are moving. The lease does not end for another six months. Now what happens?
The tenants are liable for the rent up to the date the lease expires or the date the premises are relet, whichever occurs first. You are under an obligation to attempt to relet the premises, in order to hold the former tenants liable.
What is the first step to take if I want to evict a renter for non-payment of rent?
You should serve a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit for the rent. If they fail to comply, you can start an unlawful detainer action, but make sure not to accept rent after the action is commenced.
What are we allowed, by law, to charge a tenant as a security deposit?
You are allowed to charge up to twice the amount ofthe monthly rent as a security deposit so if the rent is $1000, you can charge up to $2000 for your deposit. If the property is furnished, you can charge three times the amount of the rent.
We have added a number of clauses to our Rules & Regulations Addendum and wish to have our tenants sign the new form, as well as signing the CAA addendum about mold.
If you are on a month-to-month tenancy, you can unilaterally require they abide by the new terms by properly serving a 30-day Notice of Change of Terms of Tenancy and attaching the mold addendum to it. If they are on a fixed term lease, you must wait until the lease expires for them to renew and sign a new lease with the mold language contained therein.
After I have been granted a default judgment from the court in an unlawful detainer case, is there anything I can do to speed the tenant’s vacating the unit? Can I call early in the morning? Can I bang on the windows? If I do any of the above , what is my legal liability? Do I have to wait for the sheriff? Hints would be appreciated.
You have to wait for the Sheriff; any form of self-help could get you into legal trouble as technically you are trespassing until the Sheriff gives you back your property.
We are terminating a month-to-month tenant who has rented the property for over fifteen years. We gave the tenant a sixty-day notice and the tenant acknowledged this and initially thanked us for giving them more than thirty days notice. Now the tenant is demanding an additional thirty days due to their new residence not being ready in time. We have already made other commitments for the property. We stated we cannot extend more time. The tenant states that they are entitled to the extension because they have rented the property for over ten years. Where do we stand?
They are wrong, you are right. If the notice was properly filled out and served, you can commence eviction procedures immediately upon termination of the sixty-day notice. Do not accept rent beyond that date.
How must a notice be posted on the door? I have had three different methods used by three different management companies in a sealed envelope adhered to the door, folded and stapled and adhered to the door, and open-faced adhered to the door by taping on all four corners. Can all methods be used legally?
The law requires the notice be posted in a conspicuous place. We therefore recommend you post all four corners with thumbtacks or tape, so long as it is secure, and mail the other copy the same day by normal mail. We also advise to turn the notice to face the door for privacy concerns.
We normally keep original rental agreements, however, when would a copy not suffice?
The court requires the original unless it is lost; so you have to either produce it or testify under penalty of perjury that the original was lost without fraudulent intent. Court action is the main reason why you should keep originals.
One of our tenants had a problem with the garage gate at a complex we manage. Apparently the gate closed on his car without notice. We suspect that what he is telling us is true because we have experienced a similar problem ourselves. Is the property owner liable to pay to have his car repaired?
If the gate malfunctioned, the owner of the property is liable for the damages. The tenant would be required to prove that it was the malfunction of the gate and not his/her own negligence in order to prevail in court.
We have been asked if the applicants have three days to change their mind after signing a lease without being penalized, but we do not know the law on this matter.
There is no grace period in California for residential tenants to change their mind. Once the lease is signed, they are bound.
An applicant listed on his application that he had been convicted of transporting illegal drugs. Can I reject the applicant on the basis of this disclosure?
Yes, landlord/tenant law allows you to turn down an applicant with a past conviction for manufacture or distribution of illegal controlled substances.
A resident is suspected of violating their lease agreement by having an unauthorized occupant and does not want to add that person to the lease. What is the best method of verifying the unauthorized person’s residency?
You should require that they fill out an application and apply for the unit. If they are approved then they should sign the lease. If they refuse, a3-Day Notice to Perform Conditions/Covenants or Quit should be served and if they still fail to comply, commence the eviction process.
We have problems with tenants requesting repairs on the appliances. We inspect the appliances before the tenants move in and they are in working condition.
Part of the responsibility of providing a habitable residential unit is to provide for working appliances. However, they are required to maintain the property in good repair and order. If the resident is to blame for a non-working appliance, they are required to pay for the cost of repair or replacement.
This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. Ted Kimball is a partner with Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP. The law firm specializes in landlord/tenant, collections, fair housing and business and real estate, with offices throughout California. Property owner’s and manager’s with questions regarding the contents of this article, please call 800.338.6039.
© 2013 Kimball, Tirey and St. John