Guests Staying Over 30 Days

If you allow a guest to stay in your home or unit for 30 days, you will not be able to just lock them out. Calling the police will not remedy the situation.  Guests that you allow to occupy your property for 30 days become a “tenant at will”. The law requires that you serve a formal 30 Day Notice to Quit and proceed with an eviction if the guest does not vacate. A “tenant at will” is defined as a person occupying a property for at least 30 days, with the consent of the owner, where no rent was demanded or paid.

How to Dispose of Personal Property Left by Your Tenant

Many times, a tenant will vacate a unit leaving personal property. The landlord is cautioned not to just dispose of these items. This could give rise to a lawsuit if the tenant attempts to reclaim the property. Under California law, a landlord is required to send a written notice of abandonment regarding these items to the tenant. (AOA Form #145 – Notice of Belief of Abandonment, can be downloaded by members FREE by visiting www.aoausa.com.). The form should be sent to the tenant’s last known address, which could be your unit. The tenant will have 18 days to retrieve the items from the mailing of this notice, otherwise, if the value of the items is less than $700, the landlord may dispose of the items. If the items are worth $700 or more, the landlord will need to hold an auction and publish notice of the auction date and time in a local newspaper. It is a wise idea to take photos of the personal property.

Seller of a House Refuses to Move After Escrow Closes

It is surprising, but a small percentage of owners refuse to move, even after escrow closes. In that situation, the purchaser is required to go through a formal eviction process. A 3-Day Notice to Quit must be served and thereafter, an unlawful detainer must be filed. The action will require that the seller be removed from the property. In addition, a judgment can be obtained for the reasonable value of the property, for the time the seller was in possession.

Early Termination of a Lease

Where there is a signed lease agreement, a tenant who vacates early would be responsible for the rent until the end of the lease term. Job relocation or illness is not a legal reason to terminate a lease. The law does require that the landlord attempt to mitigate the tenant’s obligation by finding a substitute tenant. Once the premises are leased, the original tenant’s obligation would cease. An interesting issue would be if a landlord had several vacant units in the same building. The landlord is not obligated to lease this particular unit first. Once all the other units are leased, the landlord would then be obligated to lease this unit to mitigate damages.

Nuisance Tenants

Under the “Just Cause Eviction Law” in the City of San Diego, a landlord must have good cause to evict a tenant whose tenancy is two years or longer. If you have a nuisance tenant, you will need the cooperation of other tenants in order to proceed with an eviction. If the tenant contests the eviction, you will need to have other residents testify during the eviction proceeding. You should have these tenants send you a letter describing the conduct of this particular tenant. Landlords should closely monitor the conduct of their tenants during the first two years. During this period, a simple Notice to Quit can be served without cause.

 Initial Funds on Move-In

Never take a personal check upon a move-in. You should demand cash or cashier’s check only. If you take a personal check that is returned as non-sufficient funds, your tenant will obtain possession of the unit and you will be forced to go through the eviction process. If your tenancy starts in the middle of the month, I recommend that the due date still be on the first of the month. This makes it much easier for landlords who have multiple units. In this situation be sure that the tenant pays one full month’s rent and the security deposit. At the start of the next month, the tenant will only owe the proration. For example, if the tenancy starts on the 15th of the month, by accepting one month’s rent, the tenant will be paying rent through the 15th of the following month. On the first, just collect one-half month’s rent.

 Certified Painters

If your building was built prior to 1978, it probably contains lead based paint. If you are going to do any painting, you will need to engage the services of a painter that is certified in lead based paint. [RRP Certification]. This is for areas larger than six square feet on the interior or 20 square feet on the exterior of the unit. Failure to hire a certified painter can result in large fines to the owner of the property.

Distribution of the Security Deposit

Many times, there are multiple tenants on the lease, but only one tenant paid the full security deposit. Once it is time to account for the deposit, any funds returned must be divided between all the tenants. You should make out a prorated check for each tenant. Unless the other tenants expressly consent to only one tenant receiving the security deposit, you are opening yourself to being sued.

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: 714.634.823, 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.  Get the NEW App for iPhone or Android phones. Search for “EVICT123“.  “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.