7. Question: If one tenant moves from one unit to the other unit within one building, can I
deduct the security deposit to cover the damages and fix up for the old unit, then ask them to
redeposit the amount of money to make up the security deposit for the new unit?
Answer: Yes, and hopefully your lease clarifies this right. If the tenant fails to pay, you can
serve a 3-day notice to perform conditions and covenants or quit.
8. Question: I have recently purchased a 20-unit apartment building. Must I have an
apartment manager on site 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?
Answer: California law requires that you have a manager, janitor, housekeeper or other
responsible person reside on the premises representing the ownership when there are 16 units
or more. They do not have to be working 24/7.
9. Question: We had two tenants move out and deduct their security payments as a last
month’s rent. We have accrued expenses for damages and cleaning. What can we do?
Answer: If you can locate the former tenants, you can sue them in small claims court to get a
judgment which is valid for 10 years. As an alternative, you can turn the matter over to a
collection law firm that is experienced in collections against former tenants.
10. Question: How long does an unlawful detainer judgment stay on the tenant’s record?
Answer: As with all judgments, it is valid for 10 years as far as collection goes, but the credit
reporting agencies keep this information for seven years. The judgment also accrues interest at
10% per annum, and can be renewed for an additional 10 years.
11. Question: I represent an owner of several buildings who has a few tenants that are past
due on their rent. Instead of evicting them, he is offering the tenants a payment plan, if they are
willing to sign a promissory note detailing the arrangement. If the tenant defaults on the
promissory note, will he have to start a new eviction proceeding with a 3-day notice?
Answer: A promissory note would not be recommended. Once the tenant signs a promissory
note, the rent is deemed “paid” for unlawful detainer purposes and the owner would not be able
to serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit and proceed with the eviction. Instead, he would have
to sue on the promissory note and then try to collect, so the leverage for eviction disappears
once the note is signed.
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 LLP