Legal Questions June 2017 Part 1

Posted: 7th June 2017 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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FBS operates Rental Properties for Independent Owners utilizing Industry Best Practices which creates direct benefits to our Rental Customers. We have provided Superior Housing Alternatives now in our 5th Decade. Our available rental inventory changes daily. www.fbs-pm.com

As professional managers we must stay on top of local, state and federal laws, regulations and housing codes that are imperative to our clients and rental customers. We review and update our contracts, policies, forms and routines with the help of KTS (Kimball, Tirey and St. John)
Ted Kimball, Esq. weighs in:

1. Question:
What is the code section pertaining to the tenant’s obligation to pay rent subsequent to a thirty- day notice?
Answer:
California Civil Code 1946 requires the tenant to serve a thirty-day notice or a landlord to serve either a thirty-day or a sixty-day notice to terminate the tenancy. The rent is owed until the lease terminates.

2. Question:
Several prospective tenants have inquired about renting an apartment for a month or two. The high turnovers could be detrimental to the units and will create a lot of work for us in terms of doing paperwork and cleaning. Are there any rules that require a tenant to rent a minimum amount of time?
Answer:
There are no laws requiring you to rent month-to-month or a minimum or maximum amount of time. Many landlords require six-month or one-year leases.

3. Question:
A tenant reported a broken refrigerator at Monday, 10 a.m.. We replaced the refrigerator on Wednesday, at 6 p.m., in the same week. Now, the tenants want us to pay for the spoiled food. Should we?
Answer:
You would only be liable if the tenant could prove you were negligent in maintaining, purchasing or repairing the refrigerator. Landlords are not guarantors or insurers of the tenant’s personal property.

4. Question:
I took a $300.00 deposit from a tenant to hold an apartment pending a credit check. The credit check came in and I declined the application. How long do I have to return the money?
Answer:
There is no statutory requirement regarding “holding deposits.” If the agreement did not state a time frame, the court would impose a reasonable period of time considering the tenant’s need for the money to rent another premise, so the sooner it is returned, the better.

5. Question:
One of our clients owns an apartment building that we manage. He wants to rent some storage rooms on the property. If he does rent the rooms, would the unlawful detainer process have to be followed if the renter did not pay the rent? Or, do these units have the same rules as storage companies?
Answer:
Yes, he would need to follow the unlawful detainer process unless the unit is in a “self-service storage facility” as (as defined in California Business & Professions Code 21701(a)).

One of our tenant’s dogs is constantly barking and growling at anyone who passes by their apartment. It has scared many of the other residents and they have complained numerous times. I have explained that the lease allows pets. What can I do?
Answer:
If the dog is disturbing other residents and is not being properly restrained, it may be a violation of your lease if it contains a clause requiring tenants to refrain from unreasonable annoyances or disturbances. If this is the case, you could enforce the lease through a notice to perform or quit. It is also useful to have pet rules that spell out acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

7. Question:
I am evicting a tenant and gave her a thirty-day day notice. When I handed her the notice she didn’t read it, she just dropped it on the ground, so I read it to her. I then gave it back to her but she wouldn’t take it, so I dropped it on the ground. Is this considered a legal notice?
Answer:
So long as she was notified that you were giving her a legal notice and you didn’t take it back, most judges would consider this adequate personal service. If she doesn’t vacate in thirty days, an unlawful detainer (eviction) action may be filed in court.

8. Question:
We have an undesirable tenant in our apartment community. He is also consistently late paying rent. We have a month-to-month agreement and I want to serve him a thirty-day notice. The next time he pays late, I want to serve him a three-day notice to pay or quit as well. Can I serve both notices at the same time?
Answer:
A thirty-day notice and a three-day notice to pay or quit can be served at the same time. If the tenant fails to pay rent within the three-day period, you may immediately commence eviction procedures.

9. Question:
While on vacation, my assistant was responsible for serving three-day notices to pay rent or quit in the apartment community we manage. She forgot to sign the notices. Is this a fatal defect? Answer:
California law does not specifically require the manager or owner to sign notices served on tenants. While signing is the recommended practice, an unsigned notice should still be held to be sufficient.

10. Question:
I have been a resident manager for over four years and would like to know what a manager can do other than evict when a tenant continues to cause disturbances, e. g. loud music, singing, throwing cigarettes over the patio, etc…
Answer:
The threat of eviction sometimes is enough to convince a tenant to respect the quiet enjoyment of the neighboring property. Calling the police for extraordinary disturbances may also serve to quiet down an unruly tenant. If all else fails, you may consider eviction before other residents decide to move.

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