Failure to Pay a Security Deposit
It is unwise for landlords to lease a unit without first obtaining the required security deposit. Promises to pay the security deposit at a later time or in installments, will usually result in an eviction action being filed. If this is your situation, be advised that you do not serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. That notice is only to be used when rent is owed. In this case, the proper notice would be a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. The notice should state how much security is owed, when it was to be paid and the amount that needs to be paid within 3 days. If the sum is not paid within the 3 day period, you would then commence the unlawful detainer. During the eviction action you may not accept any future rent that becomes due, as this would void your legal action.
New Law Gives Tenants More Time to Pay Rent or to Perform
California Code of Civil Procedure 1161 subsections 2 and 3 has now extended the time when a tenant can pay the rent or to rectify a breach of the lease when served with a 3 day notice. In the past, when a 3 day notice was served, the day you served the notice was day zero. The tenant would then have the next three days to pay or perform.
The only exception was that the third day could not be a Saturday, Sunday or judicial holiday. Effective September 1, 2019 the law has been changed where Saturday, Sunday or a judicial holiday cannot be counted within the three-day period. Below is a simple chart to determine the day your 3 day notice will expire.
- Notice Served on Sunday—Expires on Wednesday
- Notice Served on Monday—Expires on Thursday
- Notice Served on Tuesday—Expires on Friday
- Notice Served on Wednesday Expires on Monday
- Notice Served on Thursday—Expires on Tuesday
- Notice Served on Friday—Expires on Wednesday
- Notice Served on Saturday—Expires on Wednesday
Please note if one of the days is a Legal Holiday, you will need to add an extra day.
Applicants with Service or Comfort Animals
As you might know, under Federal and California Disability Act a landlord would have to allow for a reasonable accommodation, if a tenant requested to have a service or comfort animal. The tenant would have to produce a letter from a medical professional which would indicate that the tenant has a disability and requires a service or comfort animal. This would be the case even if the building had a strict “no pet” policy. Of course, if the animal becomes a nuisance, as in the case of excessive barking, then the permission could be revoked. I recently had a landlord who was showing a unit to an applicant, where the unit was still occupied. The applicant arrived at the premises with a service animal and the landlord denied the entrance of the dog, as notice had not been given to the tenants that a dog would be entering their unit. The landlord had served proper notice that the unit was to be shown to this applicant. In this case the landlord made an incorrect decision. If the animal was a legitimate service or comfort animal, then the landlord should have allowed the dog to enter the unit. No additional notice needed to be given to the current tenants.
Tenants Biggest Lies
Landlords have to be on guard when listening to tenants. It is best to set rules for the building that should not be changed, regardless of the tenant’s story. It is quite common for a tenant, who does not have then money to pay the rent, to ask the landlord to apply the security deposit. The tenant will advise the landlord that the premises will be vacated at the end of the month and that the security will be considered the rent for this last month. My experience indicates that most tenants have no intention of vacating by the end of the month and the story is told to delay action by the landlord for an additional 30 day period. A landlord should never allow a security deposit to be applied for the current rent. In addition, even if the tenant does vacate timely, no security deposit will exist to cover any damage to the unit. If confronted with this situation, you should tell the tenant that you will not accept this and serve a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
Inoperable Vehicles and Storage of Items in the Common Area
The storage of items in the common areas or having an inoperable vehicle parked on the premises will clearly bring down the rental value of your building. Prospective tenants will clearly look elsewhere when the premises look unsightly. Having the grounds clean and manicured is paramount to obtaining maximum rent. In addition, an inoperative vehicle can be a safety hazard. The City of San Diego has an ordinance restricting the parking of an inoperable vehicle on private property. If confronted with this situation, send the tenant a warning letter to remove all personal property from the premises and to either park the vehicle off the property or return it to an operable condition. If the tenant does not comply within a reasonable time, you should serve a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit demanding compliance. Most standard rental agreements cover these types of provisions.
Shifting Economic Burdens
With rent control expanding to new jurisdictions, landlords should review the terms of the current rental agreements. At the time of the writing of this article, it appears that California will institute statewide rent control limiting rent increases to 5% plus the consumer price index. I would suggest that if you are currently paying for the utilities of your tenants, that you shift that responsibility to your tenant. You can also request a separate parking charge, in addition to the rent that the tenant is paying. A 30 day change of terms of tenancy should be used to institute these changes.
Lost Rental Agreement
Many landlords are reluctant to initiate an eviction action, as they have misplaced the rental agreement. They believe that they will not be able to maintain a legal action without this required document. This clearly is not accurate. If you are proceeding on the basis of non- payment of rent or the service of a notice to quit, your eviction action will proceed smoothly even though you do not have a rental agreement. You would have a problem, however, if you were trying to enforce other terms of the lease agreement. If the tenant brought in extra persons in violation of the agreement, you would need to have the rental agreement in order to proceed.
Dennis Block, of Dennis P. Block & Associates can be reached for information on landlord/tenant law or evictions at any of the following offices: Los Angeles: 323.938.2868, Encino: 818.986.3147, Inglewood: 310.673.2996, Long Beach: 310.434.5000, Ventura: 805.653.7264, Pasadena: 626.798.1014, Orange: 714.634.8232, San Diego: 619.481.5423 or by visiting www.evict123.com. Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, www.twitter.com/dennisblock or text him at (818) 570-1557. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.