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KTS MONTHLY LEGAL UPDATES: Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers

KTS ARTICLES ON LANDLORD-T


MAY 2016


1. Question: 

How long do I have to mail the tenant the itemized security deposit? 


Answer: 


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. 


2. Question: 

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? 


Answer: 


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. 


3. Question: 

Is there a state law that requires a landlord to professionally clean a carpet prior to 

reoccupancy? 


Answer: 


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. 


4. Question: 

Can I give a rent increase anytime during the month or just on the first day of the month? 


Answer: 


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. 


5. Question 

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? 


Answer 


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. Oral notice is also available if it is 

given within120 days from the time the tenant was first notified of the property being for sale 

including a statement that the landlord may be giving oral notice to enter the premises. 


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6. Question 

If someone says we cannot enter his unit unless he is present, what would happen if we entered 

anyway? Could he sue us? 


Answer 


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. 


7. Question: 

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? 


Answer: 


Yes, in fact he is responsible for all losses suffered (your insurance company may want to 

pursue him). 


8. Question: 

I have renters who recently informed me that they are moving. The lease does not end for 

another six months. Now what happens? 


Answer: 


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. 


9. Question: 

What is the first step to take if I want to evict a renter for non-payment of rent? 


Answer: 


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. 


10. Question: 

What are we allowed, by law, to charge a tenant as a security deposit? 


Answer: 


You are allowed to charge up to twice the amount of the 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. 


11. Question: 

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. 


Answer: 


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. 


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. Our primary practice areas are 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. 


© 2016 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 


.

12. Question: 

We are terminating a month-to-month tenant who has rented the property for over fifteen years. 

We gave the tenant a 60-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? 


Answer: 


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. 


13. Question: 

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? 

Answer: 

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. 


14. Question: 

We normally keep original rental agreements, however, when would a copy not suffice? 


Answer: 


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. 


15. Question: 

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? 


Answer: 


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. 


16. Question: 

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. 


Answer: 


There is no grace period in California for residential tenants to change their mind. Once the 

lease is signed, they are bound. 



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17. Question: 

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? 


Answer: 


Yes, landlord/tenant law allows you to turn down an applicant with a past conviction for 

manufacture or distribution of illegal controlled substances. 


18. Question: 

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? 


Answer: 


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, a 3-Day Notice to Perform 

Conditions/Covenants or Quit should be served and if they still fail to comply, commence the 

eviction process. 


19. Question: 

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. 


Answer: 


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. 


20. Question: 

What if the first of the month falls on a weekend? 


Answer: 


Under California law, Sunday is automatically considered a holiday. So if the first is a Sunday, a 

notice to pay rent or quit can normally be served on the following Tuesday (unless Monday is 

also a holiday in which case you have to wait until Wednesday). However, Saturday is not 

automatically treated as a holiday. It is only treated as a holiday if the tenant needs to access 

their bank in order to pay their rent and their bank is closed on Saturdays. Unless the landlord 

knows the tenant’s bank is open on Saturdays, the safe approach is to treat Saturdays like a 

holiday and give the tenant through Monday to pay (unless Monday is a holiday). 



April, 2016 


1. Question: 

Is a new owner subject to the pet policy of a previous owner with month-to-month agreements? 


Answer: 


Yes, but the terms of a month-to-month agreement can be changed by properly serving a 30day 

notice of change of terms of tenancy on the tenant. 


2. Question: 

What is the best way to handle the 31-day month? When a tenant moves in mid-month, is it 

best to prorate the remaining days until the 31st or is it best to ignore the 31st day and consider 

all months to be 30 days? 


Answer: 


There is no specific law on point so if your lease doesn’t address this issue, most judges use a 

30-day month to calculate daily rent notwithstanding the number of days in the month. 


3. Question: 

We have a tenant who has been incarcerated. Her aunt is coming by to remove her personal 

belongings from the unit before the tenant’s 30-day notice expires. Does the tenant still owe 

rent for the remainder of the days left on the notice to vacate even though the unit key has been 

returned to us? 


Answer: 


Yes, unless you are able to relet the premises before then. 


4. Question: 

Can I require all overnight guests to register in the office? 


Answer: 


Some judges may consider this an unreasonable invasion of the tenant’s right of privacy. It is 

so far untested in our courts. 


5. Question: 

What should I do if I suspect drugs are being sold out of one of our apartments? 


Answer: 


Call the police and report the incident. Ask the police for further direction. Document all of the 

calls and what you said, did and observed. If you can prove illegal activity, commence an 

unlawful detainer action. 


6. Question: 

If a resident dies and we discover the body, should we call the police first or a family member? 


Answer: 


Call the police and give them the names and addresses of the family members. Wait for further 

instructions from the police. 


7. Question: 

What happens if we rent to someone who is under 18 and is not an emancipated minor? 


.

Answer: 


The lease is voidable because the tenant did not have legal capacity to legally enter into the 

agreement. 


8. Question: What if the first of the month falls on a weekend? 

Answer: Under California law, Sunday is automatically considered a holiday. So if the first is a 

Sunday, a notice to pay rent or quit can normally be served on the following Tuesday (unless 

Monday is also a holiday in which case you have to wait until Wednesday). However, Saturday 

is not automatically treated as a holiday. It is only treated as a holiday if the tenant needs to 

access their bank in order to pay their rent and their bank is closed on Saturdays. Unless the 

landlord knows the tenant’s bank is open on Saturdays, the safe approach is to treat Saturdays 

like a holiday and give the tenant through Monday to pay (unless Monday is a holiday). 

9. Question: 

Where do I get the lead paint pamphlets? 


Answer: 


The California Apartment Association or one of its local affiliates, the office of HUD, or the 

Environmental Protection Services (EPA) has pamphlets available. 

The Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home pamphlet is available online at 

www2.epa.gov/sites/production/files/documents/pyf_brochure_landscape_color_1-16-13_0.pdf. 

The disclosure form is available at 

portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_12345.pdf. A fact sheet regarding the 

lead disclosure requirements is available at 


portal.hud.gov/hudportal/documents/huddoc?id=DOC_12351.pdf. 


10. Question: 

Can I serve both a 3-day notice to perform covenant and a 30-day notice at the same time? 


Answer: 


Yes, so long as the 3-day notice provides that the tenant can either perform the broken 

covenant or quit possession of the premises within the three days. 


11. Question: 

What is a prejudgment claim? When should it be used? 


Answer: 


A prejudgment claim is a document that can be filed along with the summons and complaint for 

unlawful detainer. It requires that all persons who are claiming a right of possession to the 

subject property to file a response and they will then be added as additional parties (defendants) 

to the eviction lawsuit. 


12. Question: 

What kinds of changes to the rental agreement require the “change of terms” notice? 


Answer: 


Any material change to a month-to-month tenancy requires a written 30-Day Notice of Change 

o0f Terms of Tenancy. It may be served personally, by post and mail, or substituted service 

and mail. 


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. Our primary practice areas are 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. 


© 2016 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 


.

13. Question: 

In our lease agreements we require tenant’s to pay their rent on the first of the month. If the first 

falls on a holiday, such as Labor Day, do you have to give the tenant’s until midnight on the 

second to pay the rent before serving a notice to pay rent or quit? 


Answer: 


Rent is not delinquent unless one non-holiday day has expired from the date the rent is due. So 

if the first is a weekend or holiday, the rent is not late until after one business day has expired. 


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. Our primary practice areas are 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. 


© 2016 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 



January, 2016 


1. Question: In our lease agreements we require tenant’s to pay their rent on the first of the 

month. If the first falls on a holiday, such as Labor Day, do you have to give the tenant’s until 

midnight on the second to pay the rent or can you still enforce the late fee as of midnight on the 

first? 

Answer: Rent is not delinquent unless one business day has expired from the date the rent is 

due. So if the first is a weekend or holiday, the rent is not late until after one business day has 

expired. 

2. Question: I own a fourplex. Unit B has two cars, one is broken down. What kind of 

demands can I place on B about the broken down vehicle? 

Answer: You can create a lease term by requiring all vehicles to be in operable condition or 

they will be towed. To put this into place, you need to either serve a thirty day notice of change 

of terms to a month to month agreement, or wait until the lease expires and have the new 

condition in the renewal lease. 

3. Question: I rented a condominium unit to a couple on a year’s lease. After one month, they 

had to move out to take a job out of state. My daughter wants to move in and that’s all right but 

she will not be paying me rent. Does the tenant still owe me the rent for the lease? 

Answer: Under California law, a tenant who vacates early is liable for the remainder of the 

lease period unless the premises are re-rented or otherwise taken back by the landlord. When 

your daughter moves in, the tenant is relieved from further payment. 

4. Question: Can I bill my tenant for excessive water usage if I can prove they neglected to fix 

two leaky faucets for over three months? 

Answer: Most rental agreements and California law require the tenant to maintain the premises 

in good condition and repair. Failure to meet their obligations would therefore be a breach of 

the lease and you should be able to recover all losses suffered, provided you have sufficient 

proof. 

5. Question: Our tenant’s lease is up in six weeks. Can we serve a thirty-day notice at the 

beginning of the last month of their lease if we do not want to renew? 

Answer: Unless your lease requires a thirty-day notice of intent not to renew, California law 

does not require either the tenant or landlord serve a thirty-day notice to terminate a fixed term 

lease. If the tenant remains in possession after the lease expires without the landlord’s 

permission, an immediate unlawful detainer action can be filed. 

6. Question: When not renewing a one-year lease, do I have to give the tenants a reason for 

not extending their lease? 

Answer: California law does not require landlords to give their tenants a reason why they are 

not renewing the lease, unless the property is situated in a “just cause” rent controlled 

jurisdiction. 

.

7. Question: How can you enforce the pool rules where someone continuously leaves 

underage children in the pool area? 

Answer: This is a safety issue and you should be able to address it. However, it needs to be 

handled carefully in order to avoid potential claims of discrimination based on familial status. If 

you encounter this type of situation, we recommend that you get specific legal advice from one 

of the attorneys in our fair housing practice group. 

8. Question: New tenants moved in last month. The wife now wants me to take her name off 

the lease because she is moving out and getting a divorce. They agreed to a one-year lease. 

What can I do? 

Answer: You are not legally required to release the wife from liability under the lease. If you do, 

and the husband is unable to pay or declares bankruptcy, you would not be able to pursue your 

losses from the wife. 

9. Question: One of our tenants owes us for past due rent, and part of his security deposit. 

He has given us a check for the amount of the rent, but I want to first apply it to the deposit and 

then serve a three-day notice to pay rent or quit for the unpaid balance. Is that legal? 

Answer: Yes, but only if the tenant did not designate where the money was to be applied on his 

check, or other written correspondence. You could avoid the issue by applying the payment to 

rent and then serving a three-day notice to pay the balance of the deposit, or quit. Failure to 

pay could lead to a successful eviction. 

10. Question: What can you do about a tenant being cruel to an animal such as keeping a 

large dog in small quarters outside with the dog crying in the rain, cold and heat? 

Answer: You have a right to report any criminal or inhumane acts occurring on the rental 

property. If the mistreatment constitutes a crime, you could evict the tenant for carrying on 

illegal activity on the premises. 

11. Question: Is a phone text an official written notice for a 30-Day Notice? 

Answer: No, a 30-Day Notice has to be in writing and physically deliverable to the tenant in 

person, or by serving another person of suitable age and discretion on their behalf or by posting 

a copy on the door and mailing a copy. 

12. Question: Is the Removal of Roommate form still valid even if one roommate does not 

sign? 

Answer: If the landlord allows the current tenants to substitute another person for one of the 

residents, many landlords use a “removal or roommate” form. All adult occupants of the 

premises should sign the removal of roommate form to avoid potential liability. 



December, 2015 


1. Question: What are my legal rights regarding maintaining a full deposit on a unit when one 

roommate moves out and another stays? My understanding is that I am entitled to maintain the 

full deposit while at least one of the original tenants remains in residency, and it is that 

remaining person’s responsibility to refund the deposit. 

Answer: 


Unless your lease provides otherwise, you do not have to account for the use of the deposit or 

do an inspection until you regain possession of the unit. The roommate who vacated is not 

entitled to a refund or inspection at this time unless your lease specifically requires it. 


2. Question: One of our tenants wants her security deposit refund in cash as the other 

roommate on the lease has moved out of state with no forwarding address. If the missing 

roommate’s name is on the refund check, the remaining tenant is concerned that she cannot 

cash the check. 

Answer: 


You can either make the check out to both tenants or have one tenant send you a notarized 

statement that he/she is relinquishing all rights to the deposit to the other tenant. Otherwise, 

you face potential liability to the one who did not receive the deposit. 


3. Question: Does the acceptance of rent from someone who is not on the lease mean I’ve 

accepted him as a tenant? 

Answer: 


Accepting a third party check does not by itself necessarily indicate that you have accepted this 

person as a tenant. It is a good idea to indicate that this is being received on behalf of the 

tenant and does not indicate any tenancy relationship between you and the check writer. 


4. Question: I am having a bit of a problem with a repeat visitor on my property. He is a young 

man who knows a lot of the children who live here. It has been brought to my attention that he 

has been selling marijuana on our property, but I have not personally seen this. Can I keep him 

off of the property based on this information? 

Answer: 


If he is not visiting one of your tenants, he is trespassing. If he is visiting one of your residents, 

they are responsible for his conduct. In any case you should call the police. 


5. Question: I have a resident who moved in this last month. I have had a lot of noise 

complaints about him from other residents. I have also issued three warning notices for noise 

and the cleaning of this patio. He has a one-year lease. What can I do? 

Answer: 


If the disturbances rise to the level of a public or private nuisance (major, continuous 

disturbances to neighbors), then you could serve a Three-Day Notice to Quit based upon the 

nuisance. 


6. Question: I have tenants who recently divorced. The husband has moved out. Can we take 

him off the rental agreement? 

.

Answer: 


It is not in your best interest to take him off the lease as he is still responsible for the lease 

payments even though he moved out. To remove him, you would need to get his permission 

and consent. 


7. Question: Is there a smoke detector ordinance that requires an owner to perform an annual 

smoke detector inspection in each unit? If so, what is the purpose of the smoke detector 

agreement? 

Answer: 


California state law does not require an annual inspection of a smoke detector inside a rented 

unit; however, the owner is responsible to maintain and test smoke detectors in common 

stairwells or other common property of the apartment community. Tenants are required to notify 

the owner of an inoperable smoke detector in their unit. 


8. Question: One of our employees said she believes that a tenant’s rental agreement must be 

signed in the owner’s or agent’s presence, or notarized, or it will be invalid. 

Answer: 


California rental agreements do not have to be notarized or signed in front of the owner or 

owner’s agent. 


9. Question: Can I ban alcohol in the pool area? 

Answer: 

You can control the common areas of the premises so you could ban the use of alcohol in the 

pool area. 


10. Question: Do I give a sixty-day notice on a month-to-month tenancy for a rent increase of 

10%? 

Answer: 


No, a thirty-day notice is all that is required unless the increase is more than 10% of what the 

rent was one year ago. 



November, 2015 


1. Question: If I gave a resident a thirty-day notice of rent increase which ends on the tenth of 

the following month, can I charge the resident pro-rated rent for the first nine days at the daily 

rental value before the rent increase and the other twenty one days at the daily rental value of 

the increased amount? 

Answer: Yes, the rent increase is effective thirty calendar days from the date of service of the 

increase. The notice has to be for sixty days if the rent increase is more than ten percent from 

what it was one year before. 

2. Question: Is there a “rule of thumb” for carpet depreciation? 

Answer: It depends upon the quality of the carpet. You need to find out from the manufacturer 

the life span of the carpet under “ordinary wear and tear.” If it has to be replaced before that 

time, it may have been subject to extraordinary wear and tear and then the tenant would be held 

liable for the loss of use of the carpet. 

3. Question: If the contract says no pets, but does not specify fish, can I stop a tenant from 

keeping a 150-gallon aquarium? 

Answer: Fish are considered pets by most judges so they are violating the lease by having a 

150-gallon tank. A small goldfish bowl may not constitute a major breach, but a 150-gallon tank 

most likely does. 

4. Question: I have a former tenant who claims, since she had a one-year lease, she is not 

obligated to give a thirty-day notice. 

Answer: There is no statutory requirement that a thirty-day notice of non-renewal be given 

during a fixed term lease, but if the lease requires a notice of non-renewal and she fails to give 

one, she is in breach of the lease and can be liable for any losses you suffer as a result. 

5. Question: Can an apartment community charge a monthly pet rent and pet deposit to have 

a pet? 

Answer: Yes, so long as it does not apply to service animals for the disabled. 

6. Question: How does one collect on a judgment against a former resident? 

Answer: A judgment can be collected in a variety of ways: wage garnishment, bank levy, 

seizure of non-exempt personal property and sale are the most common. A judgment debtor 

examination can also be used to locate assets, and if the debtor fails to appear, a warrant is 

issued for their arrest. 

7. Question: One of our tenants was recently arrested and is incarcerated. How does this 

affect his lease? Is it considered abandonment? 

Answer: The incarceration of a tenant does not have a legal effect on the tenant’s right under 

the lease. If the tenant breaches any part of the lease agreement, such as non-payment of rent, 

the landlord may take legal steps to evict, and can serve notices to the tenant while in jail. 

.

8. Question: One of our residents is a day sleeper and complains about the noisy children next 

door. They are under school age and I don’t know how or if I should enforce excessive noise. 

Answer: Most courts recognize that apartment living is in closer proximity than single family 

homes and occupants must be more tolerant of disruptions, considering also the time of day or 

night and the cause of the disruption. If the noise the children make is not excessive for 

daytime tolerance, it is likely there is no violation of the lease or community rules. Having 

another witness to the noise would be helpful to see which side you end up on! 

9. Question: One of our month-to-month residents gave a thirty-day notice to vacate the unit 

and now it is the thirtieth day and he refuses to move. What can I do now? Do I have to serve 

him with my thirty-day notice? 

Answer: If the tenant’s notice was in writing, the tenant is legally bound to vacate the unit within 

the thirty-day time frame. Failure to do so allows you to immediately file an action for unlawful 

detainer (tenant eviction). 

10. Question: One of our tenants is moving out, but the roommate wants to stay and invite a 

friend of hers to take the out-going tenants’ place. How do we indicate this on the lease? 

Answer: One way is to draw up a new lease, assuming the new person meets your rental 

standards, with new signatures unless you want to hold the vacating tenant responsible for the 

remainder of their lease. In that event, simply add the new tenant to the lease and have them 

sign. 

11. Question: Our tenants deposit their rent directly into our bank account. This has worked 

well because we know exactly when the rent has been paid. Now we need to evict for nonpayment 

of rent. Can they still deposit the rent and if so, have I hurt my case? 

Answer: Acceptance of rent after an unlawful detainer action (tenant eviction) has been filed is 

a waiver of the right to evict in most cases. To avoid this possible defense, write your tenant a 

letter documenting that you are not going to accept any more rent at this time. Periodically 

check your deposits and if rent was paid, send it back as soon as possible. 

12. Question: I am a first time landlord and I rented my condo with a two-year lease. Now I 

need to sell and have been told that my tenant is the one with all the rights. What are my 

rights? 

Answer: You have the right to sell the property and the buyer would “step into your shoes” as 

landlord and must honor the lease. The tenant must also allow access to the property to 

prospective purchasers, agents, etc… 

13. Question: I am considering leasing to a corporation for use by their relocating personnel 

and/or short time visitors. Who/what do I name as the tenant (s) to assure that any future legal 

action can be handled expeditiously? 

Answer: List the corporation and all occupants who are 18 or older as tenants on your lease 

documents. 

14. Question: Can tenants change their locks without permission and refuse to provide a key 

to the property manager? 

Answer: Most leases restrict any alterations to the premises without your permission or consent 

and most leases specifically restrict changing locks without the landlord’s permission. 

15. Question: If a friend of a tenant appears to be living in the apartment, is there a time limit 

which allows me to compel the guest to fill out an application to be added to the rental 

agreement? Can the tenant have guests stay as long as they want? 

Answer: If your lease prohibits subletting or assignment of the lease, or if your lease restricts 

the occupants to those named in the lease, the tenant could be in violation. You would need to 

prove that the person really moved in and was not just a guest. A common “guest” policy is two 

weeks. 

16. Question: I do not know how to start the thirty-day notice to terminate. I have given a 

three-day notice for non-payment of rent, but I do not know what to do next. 

Answer: If the tenant has not complied with the three-day notice, there is no reason to serve a 

thirty-day notice. Instead, you may start the unlawful detainer process in court immediately. 

17. Question: My question concerns residents who deposit their check in the rent drop box 

after the due date. The lease provides that rent is due on the first and if it is not received by the 

fourth it is considered late and a $25 late fee is imposed. On the morning of the fifth, the rent 

drop is emptied and any checks received after that time are deemed to be late. Each month 

there are a few residents who put an earlier date on the rent check and drop it in after the fourth. 

How should we respond to this situation? 

Answer: It makes no difference when the check is dated. If the check is delivered after the 

fourth, the tenant owes the late charge. By dating the check earlier, it only raises a question of 

proving when the check was first received. So long as you can demonstrate to the satisfaction 

of the court that the check was delivered late, you should be able to enforce the late charge. 



OCT 2015 


1. Question: Can you tell me if someone needs any kind of certification or license to manage 

property in California? I want to hire someone to manage some of my smaller (less than 10 

units) buildings. This person will accept rent, give out notices, handle complaints, and supervise 

maintenance work. 

Answer: They are required to be a licensed real estate broker in order to manage property in 

California for a third party. An exception is for a manager who lives on-site. 

2. Question: Am I within my legal rights to ignore oral notices and demand written 30-day 

notice for a month-to-month lease termination? 

Answer: Yes, California law requires termination notices to be in writing. 

3. Question: We do not have any HUD housing. When a Section 8 applicant asks us if we 

accept HUD housing, what is the best answer? 

Answer: Indicate to the applicant that the property does not participate in any governmental 

assistance program at this time, but they are welcome to apply if they are willing to forego their 

subsidy. 

4. Question: One of our tenants paid us $50.00 per month rent less than what his lease 

required. We did not catch the mistake until after his third month. He says he does not owe it 

because we waived our right to collect it when he paid his rent. Is he right? 

Answer: Probably not. If your lease contained a non-waiver provision, it should be upheld in 

court. Even if your lease were silent on this issue, he would have to prove that you knowingly 

waived your right to receive full payment by accepting a lesser amount. 

5. Question: Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “ordinary wear and tear”? My 

husband and I are spending day and night trying to clean and repair our once beautiful home we 

rented out and need to know how much to charge back to our tenants. 

Answer: There are not many legal guidelines on this issue so many judges use what they 

consider a common sense approach. We advise landlords to seek an opinion from the 

manufacturer of drapes, carpets, and appliances as to their expected lifetime assuming ordinary 

wear and tear. If the item needs replacing before that time, you can use this as a guideline to 

determine the pro rata amount to charge back to the tenant. 

6. Question: One of my residents recently had her phone line repaired. The telephone 

company charged her $60.00. She did not notify us of the problem before ordering the repair. 

We could have made the repair ourselves at much less cost. The tenant wants me to pay the 

bill. What do you think? 

Answer: California law deems owners of rental property responsible for the inside wiring to the 

property. However, tenants must first give landlords notice of a needed repair and provide a 

reasonable time to make the repair before undertaking a self-help action. You shouldn’t have to 

pay more than what it would have cost for you to make the repair. 

.

7. Question: Must 3-day notices to pay rent or quit be served to all delinquent tenants at the 

same time? We manage a large apartment community and sometimes have a multiple of 

notices to serve. 

Answer: California law does not require that you serve 3-day notices to all delinquent residents 

at the same time. It is a good idea to do so, however, in order to avoid the appearance of 

favoritism or discriminatory conduct. 

8. Question: Our tenants have a one-year lease. They gave me a 30-day notice of intent to 

vacate two months short of the one-year lease expiration. What should I do? 

Answer: You should let them know in writing that a 30-day notice has no legal effect on their 

obligations under the lease and they remain liable for the rent until the lease expires or the date 

you are able to relet the premises, (once they vacate you have to use due diligence to relet), 

whichever comes first. 

9. Question: Our tenant’s children put a 6-inch hole in a plaster wall of the house they are 

renting. The tenant readily admitted that the children “might have been punching the wall a 

little.” What are our legal options? 

Answer: You can serve a 3-day notice to perform conditions and covenants or quit to require 

the tenant to pay for the repairs to the wall. If they do not comply with the notice, you should 

prevail in an eviction. 



AUGUST 2015 


1. Question: Can we use a recent Section 8 inspection report as a standard of habitability in 

an eviction case? 

Answer: The court will allow any relevant evidence that tends to prove the condition the 

premises during the time in question. Since the purpose of the inspection is to qualify the unit 

as habitable and in compliance with HUD regulations, the report may be considered as 

evidence of the condition of the premises at the time of the inspection, but the custodian of 

records may have to testify as to the accuracy of the report. 

2. Question: One of our tenants recently requested that we paint the inside of her apartment. 

She has threatened to do it herself and deduct the cost of the paint from the rent if we do not 

have it painted within the next two weeks. Is she legally able to carry out her threat? 

Answer: Unless the condition of the walls rendered the premises uninhabitable, the owner is 

under no obligation to paint the unit at the request of the tenant. 

3. Question: Several of our tenants have complained to us about the neighboring property. 

The people who live there work on their cars in the driveway at all hours, and have loud and wild 

parties almost each weekend until dawn. What are my legal responsibilities? 

Answer: You have a right to inform the owner of the neighboring property and request their 

assistance, in resolving the problem. Recommend that your residents contact the police during 

the time of the disturbances. 

4. Question: What is the most useful information on the tenant’s application for collection 

purposes? 

Answer: The most useful for locating former residents, are the social security, driver’s license 

and license plate numbers. For collection on judgments, current employment and bank account 

records are the most valuable. 

5. Question: I rent out a condo that I own. Are the rules and regulation of the homeowner’s 

association automatically applicable to my tenant? 

Answer: Not automatically; your residential lease should incorporate by reference the CC & 

R’s of the homeowner’s association and all rules and regulations. That way if there is a breach 

of the association rules, you can serve an appropriate notice to perform or terminate the lease. 

6. Question: What is an estoppel certificate? The owner of the property I manage requested 

that each of the tenants sign an estoppel certificate. I did not want to appear unknowledgeable. 

Answer: An estoppel certificate is a document signed by the tenant certifying that the major 

terms of the lease are true and correct. Estoppel certificates are sometimes required during the 

sale of rental property so the buyer knows that the tenant understands and agrees to the major 

terms of the lease. 

7. Question: Can we legally restrict the number of automobiles our tenants can park on the 

property? There is open parking but some of our tenants have four or five cars. 

.

Answer: You have the right to control the number of automobiles that the tenant may park on 

the property. Clear guidelines should be given in writing and equally enforced. 


8. Question: After serving a tenant with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, what is my next 

step if the tenant does not comply? Serving a thirty-day notice? 

Answer: Your next step would be to file the unlawful detainer (tenant eviction) in the proper 

court. Each court has geographical boundaries, so you should make sure you are filing the 

action in the court of proper venue. 

9. Question: We allow pets on our property but only in certain units. Sometimes there are no 

pet units available. Is this policy legal? 

Answer: It is in the landlord’s discretion to allow or not allow pets or to allow them only in 

certain units. Just make sure your policy does not apply to assistive animals which are not 

considered pets. 

10. Question: A tenant’s child broke a glass shower door. Can I charge the tenant for the 

repair of the door? 

Answer: The tenant is liable for any damage done by its invitees, guests or other occupants of 

the premises. The tenant should have to pay for the repair of the door. 

11. Question: After a tenant moves out and gives their change of address to the post office, 

how long are the landlords responsible for any correspondence that may still arrive at their 

former address? 

Answer: You should let the post office do their job and if the forwarding address has expired, 

give it back to the post office and indicate that the person no longer resides at the mailing 

address. We do not recommend you help accommodate your former tenant by playing “post 

office.” 

12. Question: I need to know the depreciation schedule of new carpeting in a home where the 

tenant lived for one year. The tenant put 5 cigarette burn holes in the carpet and spilled wax on 

the corner of this brand new carpet. 

Answer: California’s security deposit law found in Civil Code Section 1950.5 states that the 

resident is responsible for damage above normal wear and tear. If the carpet needs to be 

replaced after one year and it should have lasted for five years, most judges will allow you to 

charge the resident 4/5 of the total replacement costs. 

13. Question: I have a tenant who smokes outside his apartment. Can I request he not do 

that? There have been issues with cigarette butts on walkways and it also affect the tenant’s 

next door to him as they always close the kitchen window when he smokes. 

Answer: You can create a non-smoking policy for all or part of the premises, so long as you 

are consistent in its enforcement. 

14. Question: I have a roommate situation. One roommate has moved out. Am I required by 

law to give back half of the security deposit to the one who has moved out? 

Answer: California law does not require landlords to return the security deposit to one tenant if 

they move out before the remaining tenant(s). Landlords are not required to account for the use 

f the security deposit until after they have recovered possession of the property unless 

otherwise agreed at the inception of the lease. 


15. Question: At my property, we are currently doing renovations, and have notified all the 

residents that there will be noise and water shut offs. One resident said they are entitled to rent 

discounts because of the situation, is it true? 

Answer: There is no “automatic” reduction in rent allowed for temporary shut off of water, 

and/or noise created by renovation or routine maintenance. 


July, 2015 


1. Question: My tenant has some damage to the outside window to the house I rent to them. 

The tenant claims the damage was done by a burglary attempt but I suspect they locked 

themselves out and damaged the window when trying to get back in. Who is responsible for the 

repair? 

Answer: Unless proved otherwise, damage caused by unknown third parties, acts of nature, or 

unexplainable are the responsibility of the landlord. 

2. Question: In a co-signer situation what forms do you recommend that the co-signer sign 

along with the tenant? 

Answer: They should sign a separate guarantee agreement that has been reviewed by 

competent counsel. 

3. Question: As resident managers, we are dealing with several tenants in violation of pet rules. 

In retaliation, they have made false accusations of us entering their apartments without notice. 

They are now disturbing other tenants with this untruth and questioning our integrity. How can 

we protect or defend ourselves? 

Answer: You can serve a three-day-notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit to 

permanently remove the unauthorized pets. If you can prove the pets are still there after the 

notice expires, you can file for unlawful detainer. 

4. Question: In assessing a late charge in a lease, is there a law stating how many days after 

the due date must expire before a late charge can be imposed? 

Answer: California law does not prohibit a landlord from charging the tenant a bona fide late 

charge after the rent is delinquent. The rent is not delinquent unless one business day has 

passed at the time the rent became due. If the rent is due on the first and the first is on a 

weekend, a late charge could not be imposed until after the first business day expires. 

5. Question: What happens when the lease expires? Is it assumed that the agreement goes 

month-to-month? Or should a new agreement be signed? 

Answer: If the lease does not speak to renewal or reversion to month-to-month and the tenant 

remains in the premises with the landlord’s consent, the law will presume a month-to-month 

agreement if the rent is paid and accepted by the landlord. It then can be terminated by either 

side serving the other with a written thirty-day or sixty-day notice to quit. 

6. Question: I have a lease with two male tenants. The lease specifies two occupants only. 

One of the tenants has a girlfriend who spends the night every day of the week for the last 

month. How do you determine when a guest is an occupant? 

Answer: Unless the tenant admits to having another person move into the rental unit, you need 

to prove that they are occupying the unit through circumstantial evidence. Proof of facts such 

as receiving mail at the premises, coming to and from work on a daily basis, present on 

weekends, or making requests from management all could lead a trier of fact to conclude that 

the person is an occupant of the premises. 

.

7. Question: Is there a law for returning the security deposit within a certain time frame? If I 

missed the due date is there an automatic penalty? I overlooked accounting for a deposit and it 

has been 25 days. 

Answer: California law allows residential tenants and landlords to contract for up to 21 days for 

the accounting and, if applicable, return of all or a portion of the tenant’s security deposit. There 

is no automatic penalty for being late. 

8. Question: When we have called attention to a violation of the lease or community rules, 

tenants frequently will say we are “picking” on them. How can we protect ourselves? 

Answer: First, make sure you are enforcing the lease and community rules equally to all 

violators. The best way to avoid or minimize legal challenges is by documenting all incidents 

and responding in a consistent manner. 

9. Question: When typing up a new lease, should we use the spelling of the tenant’s names as 

it appears on the application or on their driver’s license? 

Answer: It is important to be consistent on how you spell their name in the event legal action is 

necessary. It is best to use the name exactly as it appears on their driver’s license and request 

that they fill out the application in a manner consistent with this request. 

10. Question: If a one-year residential lease is broken, what becomes of the security deposit? 

Answer: Once the tenants have vacated the premises and the landlord has taken over 

possession, the time to account for the use of the security deposit (normally 21 days) begins. 

The deposit can be used for any monies owed the landlord including delinquent rent. 

11. Question: I have single family homes that I have for lease. They have large, well-

maintained gardens. How do I best insure that they are kept up? 

Answer: Your best bet is to hire a gardener yourself, build the cost into the rent and have the 

lease read that the gardener has permission to enter the property for 

gardening/landscaping/mowing etc. That way you have more control. 

12. Question: How long should I retain an application that was denied? How long should the 

application and the rental agreement be saved after a tenant moves? 

Answer: The statute of limitations for fair housing cases ranges from six months to five years; 

the statute of limitations for a written rental agreement is four years. The statute of limitations is 

the time someone has to file a lawsuit. Therefore, you should keep your application documents 

a minimum of five years. 

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. Our primary practice areas are 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. 


© 2015 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 



June, 2015 

1. Question: I have a renter who gave me a thirty-day notice and then left the following week. 

Can I re-key the door locks and enter the property? 

Answer: If your resident has clearly vacated the unit and communicated the same to you, you 

do not have to wait until the thirty-day notice expires before you can relet the unit. California law 

requires that you mitigate your potential loss of rent by attempting to rent the property as soon 

as possible. The former tenant is liable for any unpaid rent up to the time the premises are relet 

or the thirty-day notice expires. 

2. Question: I just bought two four-plexes. I have a “no pet” policy. One tenant has a dog, 

cat, and five kittens. How do I change the pet policy as the new owner? 

Answer: If they are on a month-to-month, you can serve a thirty-day notice changing the terms 

of the tenancy to a “no pet” policy. If they are on a fixed term lease, you can make “no pets” a 

condition of a renewal of the lease, but not until it expires. 

3. Question: If we personally serve a tenant a notice to enter the unit and we mail them a copy 

of the notice, do we need to wait the required six days before entry? 

Answer: California law requires six days if the notice is mailed only. If served personally or 

posted on the usual entry door of the premises, a twenty-four hour notice of entry is presumed 

to be a reasonable time. 

4. Question: Can residents sit outside their front door and drink beer? Other residents are 

complaining. 

Answer: If the outside portion where they are drinking beer is part of the common area of the 

premises, you can restrict that activity as long as it is restricted for all residents. If it is part of 

their rented space, you cannot, unless they are causing unreasonable disturbances to other 

residents. 

5. Question: I purchased a rental property two years ago and the security deposits need to be 

increased. Most of the deposits are $600.00 and need to be increased to $900.00. What is the 

best way to do this? 

Answer: If they are on a month-to-month agreement, you can serve a thirty-day notice 

changing the terms of the tenancy to increase the deposit amount. You can charge up to twice 

the amount of the monthly rent if the unit is unfurnished. 

6. Question: Who is responsible for the expense of carpet cleaning and painting when a tenant 

vacates a unit? Is its lawful to pass on this expense to the departing tenant? 

Answer: Under California law, the carpet must be left in the same clean condition it was when 

the tenant first moved in. Any necessary cleaning is the tenant’s responsibility and the cost may 

be deducted from his or her security deposit. Painting may also be charged to the departing 

tenant if the need to paint arose out of extraordinary wear and tear while the tenant occupied 

the apartment. 

.

7. Question: We rented to three roommates who all moved in at the same time. One moved 

out a couple of months ago and the other two moved out last month. All three were on the 

rental agreement and one is demanding that we give the entire deposit refund to him because 

he was the one who paid it. What should we do? 

Answer: Either require the roommate to produce a written, notarized statement from the other 

two roommates granting their permission and consent, or give him a check with all three names 

as the payee. 

8. Question: I served a three-day notice to pay rent or quit to one of our tenants. I received a 

partial payment within the three-day period. Do I have to serve another notice for the remainder 

of the rent or is the notice still good? 

Answer: Under California law, a residential landlord who accepts partial payment of rent 

demanded on a three-day notice is required to serve a new notice for the balance owed. 

9. Question: How do we get rid of tenants who have filthy units? They always pay on time. 

Answer: If the condition of a residential tenant’s apartment unit is creating a health or fire 

hazard, the landlord should take steps to require the hazard be removed, or if necessary, 

terminate the tenancy and evict. If the condition does not amount to a health or fire hazard, you 

may elect to serve a thirty-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, or if the lease is a 

fixed term, do not renew. If the tenant could have a disability called “hoarding,” you should seek 

legal advice before proceeding. 

10. Question: One of our tenants informed me that residential landlords have to replace 

carpeting every five years. Is this true? 

Answer: No. California does not have specific requirements for replacing carpets or any 

condition of the unit so long as it remains in a habitable condition, which means free from 

substantial health or safety hazards. 

11. Question: How long should we retain old leases at our apartment complex? I have heard 

two years, is this correct? 

Answer: The statute of limitations (the time one has to bring a lawsuit) for written leases is four 

years. Therefore, leases should be retained a minimum of four years from the date of the 

vacancy. 

12. Question: One of our tenants is buying a home and gave us a thirty-day notice. Now they 

want to extend escrow fifteen more days beyond the thirty-day period. They are willing to pay 

for the additional rent. Should we require a new thirty-day notice from the tenants? 

Answer: If you are in agreement to the additional fifteen days, agree in writing to extend the 

thirty-day notice period to expire on midnight on the agreed extension. Otherwise, the court 

may believe that you waived your right under the thirty-day notice by allowing the tenant to 

remain in possession and paying rent beyond the thirty-day notice period. 

13. Question: We just recently purchased a property with below market rents and intend on 

raising rents. Which is preferable: to send out a thirty-day notice to raise the rent first, or to 

have the residents sign a month-to-month agreement, then sent out a thirty-day notice? 

Answer: Legally, when you purchase rental property, you “step into the shoes” of the previous 

owner and you are bound by whatever lease agreement is in place. If it is month-to-month, you 

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. 


© 2015 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 


.

can serve a thirty-day notice to change the terms, including rent increase. If the rent is 

increased more than 10% from what it was one year ago, a sixty-day notice must be served. 


14. Question: I have rented an apartment to an unmarried couple. The boyfriend’s mom is the 

co-signor. The boyfriend is moving out and wants his and his mom’s name taken off the lease. 

I don’t care if the boyfriend leaves, but I think his mom is still responsible. Am I right? 

Answer: Most co-signor agreements, also known as guarantee contracts, provide that the 

guarantee of performance is through the term of the lease. If so, the mom would most likely 

remain responsible, even if her son moves out. 



May, 2015 


1. Question: 

I rent out a three-bedroom home with a covered patio that I have turned into a fourth bedroom. 

There are four individual people renting. My question is, can I call it renting rooms or am I 

renting a house to four different people? 


Answer: 


It is better if you rent the house to all four under one lease with each tenant being “jointly and 

severally” liable, meaning they are individually responsible for the lease, as well as collectively. 


2. Question: 

We have a policy of allowing prospective tenants who have poor credit to qualify if they have a 

qualified guarantor sign the lease. We want to change that policy. Do we have to do anything 

legally speaking to modify our policy? 

Answer: Be sure to document the details of the new screening policy in your files, including the 

business reason for the change in policy and the effective date that it will be implemented. That 

way, if someone claims they were given different screening criteria than someone else, you 

have documentation to show there was a good business reason for the policy and when the 

new policy came into effect. 

3. Question: 

In order to screen prospective tenants, I want to establish a standard of income/debt vs. rent. Is 

this legal in California? 


Answer: 


Many landlords use a formula to determine qualification of residents based upon their financial 

stability. The industry standard is to establish a rent-to-income ratio (for example the combined 

household income must be at least 2.5 times the monthly rent). Debts are usually included as 

part of the credit standard rather than the income standard. If you decide to include debt in the 

income v. rent ratio, be sure to set clear and objective criteria about the standard and how it will 

be applied to avoid potential claims of discriminatory treatment. 


4. Question: 

The previous owner of an apartment building I recently purchased allowed the tenants to pay 

half a month’s rent on the first and the other half on the fifteenth of the month. The lease, 

however, says it is all due on the first and I want to enforce the lease. What, if any legal 

problems do I face? 


Answer: 


California judges may find that there has been a modification of the payment terms of the 

agreement by “mutual consent and execution” of the new payment terms. Many leases have a 

provision which states that one waiver of strict enforcement of the terms does not constitute a 

continuous waiver for subsequent breaches. If the agreement contains this clause, the court 

should rule that the rent is all due on the first of the month. 


.

5. Question: 

One of our tenants is complaining about the carpet and says it is California law that the 

carpeting must be changed every seven years. Have you heard of any law on this subject? 


Answer: 


California law does not require landlord to replace carpeting, unless the condition of the carpet 

creates a health hazard or risk of injury. 


6. Question: 

When tenants give notice that they will be vacating the residence, is it permissible for me to give 

them a notice stating that I will be advertising the vacancy and will be showing their apartment? 


Answer: 


Unless the tenant agrees to another arrangement, you would be required to give reasonable 

notice (24 hours) in writing for every entry. 


7. Question: 

I have a “Guarantee of Rental Agreement” from the mother of a tenant. The tenant is twelve 

days late with the rent. Do I have an obligation to notify the mother and give her the chance to 

pay? What is my recourse against her if she refuses to live up to the guarantee agreement? 


Answer: 


Notifying the guarantor may be a requirement depending upon the language of the guarantee 

agreement. You may want to advise the guarantor in any event and send her a courtesy copy 

of the three-day notice before taking action. 


8. Question: 

Is it necessary that a notice to perform or quit be for three days, or can I choose to give an 

otherwise good tenant more time to solve the problem? 


Answer: 


You can give the tenant more time to respond to a breach, but it should end with a three-day 

notice. You could write the tenant that you are going to allow them to cure the breach by a 

certain date and if not cured by then, a three-day notice to perform will be served. 



April, 2015 


1. Question: 

What is the difference between a companion animal and a service animal? 


Answer: 


There is no difference. In the eyes of the law, they are both types of assistive animals for 

persons with disabilities. 


2. Question: 

I have an applicant who uses a wheelchair. She wants me to put a ramp into her unit, widen her 

doorways and install a roll-in shower for her. Do I have to do this? My property was built in 

1972. 


Answer: 


As long as your property is not federally funded, you do not have make these modifications for 

the applicant. However, you do have to allow the applicant to make the modifications herself, at 

her own expense (assuming she rents the unit from you). The work must be done in a 

workmanlike manner and if the cost of the labor and materials would exceed $500, California 

law requires it be done or supervised by a licensed contractor. 


3. Question: 

Can I prohibit a resident from having a Pit Bull as an assistive animal? 


Answer: 


No. You cannot impose breed restrictions on assistive animals. If a particular animal (regardless 

of breed) has a history of biting or other dangerous behavior, that animal should be able to be 

denied (although the resident could get a different animal). 


4. Question: 

My resident has asked for an accommodation and I don’t think they’re disabled. Can I force 

them to get a note from their doctor? 


Answer: 


No. While you are entitled to written verification that a resident’s condition meets the definition 

of disability under California law and to verify there is a disability related need for the 

accommodation, you may not require this note to only come from a doctor. Any sufficiently 

reliable third party, which would include a doctor, may provide verification. 


5. Question: 

Can I require an applicant who uses a wheelchair to live on the first floor? We don’t have an 

elevator and I’m worried he couldn’t get out if there was a fire or other emergency. 


Answer: 


No. This practice would be considered “steering”, or trying to control where the applicant lives 

on the property based on his protected class (disability). An applicant with a disability has the 

right to live in any apartment he chooses, assuming he meets your property’s screening criteria. 


.

6. Question: 

I am trying to evict a resident for his conduct on the property. He has indicated that his conduct 

is due to his current drug use and he asked me to give him another chance claiming his ongoing 

drug use makes him disabled. Can I continue with the eviction? 


Answer: 


Yes. Although recovered drug addicts are considered to be disabled, someone who is currently 

engaged in the illegal use of controlled substances is not covered under federal or state fair 

housing law. 


7. Question: 

I entered my resident’s unit yesterday to check the smoke detectors and found that she is 

hoarding. I couldn’t even walk into a few of the rooms because of there was so much personal 

property inside. Can I serve her a 3-Day Notice to Quit? 


Answer: 


No. Hoarding is recognized as a mental disability. Before you can evict, you generally must give 

the resident an opportunity to bring her unit into a safe and sanitary condition. If the resident 

refuses to take steps to remedy the condition of the unit after you have given her a reasonable 

amount of time to do so, then you should be able to terminate the tenancy. 


8. Question: 

I had an applicant who applied for an apartment today. She said she has two assistive dogs. 

Can I limit the number of assistive dogs to one? 


Answer: 


No, you can’t limit the number of animals to one. However, you can require verification that 

because of the resident’s disability (or disability of other household members), two assistive 

animals are necessary. 


9. Question: 

My resident has an unauthorized dog in her unit. When I sent her a lease violation notice, she 

told me that her dog was an assistive animal. A few days later she brought in a Service Animal 

Certificate which she obtained from a website. Do I have to accept that as valid verification? 


Answer: 


No. The websites that issue those types of certificates generally do not require proof of disability 

or disability-related need for the animal. Anyone can register their dog as a service animal by 

simply paying a fee to the website. Landlords are entitled to written verification that the resident 

has a disability and a disability-related need for the dog. 


10. Question: 

My resident is requesting a handicapped parking space. She has a handicapped license plate. 

But the space she is asking for is only about 25 feet away from her current parking space. Do I 

need to allow her to change spaces? I think her current space is already close enough to her 

unit. 


Answer: 


Yes. If the resident is requesting a certain parking space and that space is available then you 

should allow the resident to change spaces. Landlords are not allowed to decide what the 

resident needs or doesn’t need because of her disability. The resident is in the best position to 

determine what is necessary for her disability. 


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.

 

March, 2015 


1. Question: 

Our tenant owes us back rent and is stating that he is probably going to file bankruptcy. We’ve 

been trying to work with him but are getting nervous now. Do we lose all the back rent if he files 

bankruptcy? 


Answer: 


It depends. If he files a Chapter 7, there is little hope. If he files a Chapter 13, you may receive 

all or a portion of the back rent. 


2. Question: 

If a tenant’s rent is due on the first day of the month and there is no grace period, what is the 

earliest date I can serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit? 


Answer: 


You can serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit when the rent is legally delinquent. California 

law requires that one business day must expire before the rent is considered delinquent. So, if 

the first day of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, you must wait until the day after the first 

business day expires before serving the notice. If the first day falls on a business day, the 

notice can be served on the second of the month. 


3. Question: 

If the landlord accepts a rent payment from someone other than the lessee, does that give them 

any rights? 


Answer: 


It could if they are occupants of the property. This could convince a court that they are now 

tenants under a verbal agreement. 


4. Question: 

There was a grease fire in one of our rental units due to a tenant’s lack of knowledge of cooking. 

What is my obligation to provide alternate accommodations for this tenant? Am I required to 

keep her as a renter? 


Answer: 


You are not obligated to put the tenant up. You may have a right to evict her based upon waste 

of the unit, which requires a 3-day notice to quit. 


5. Question: 

The tenants living in one of our apartments signed a one-year lease which states that there will 

be no pets allowed. They now have two cats in the apartment and are only in the second month 

of the lease. We served a 3-day notice to perform covenant or quit. They have chosen to 

leave. The rent for the entire month was paid. Are they entitled to the prorated amount of rent 

for the unused portion of the month? 


Answer: 


No, they are liable for the remainder of the lease or up to the time you relet the premises, 

whichever occurs first. 


.

6. Question: 

My tenants paid an extra deposit for a pet. They gave away the dog after 2 months. Now they 

are asking if the pet deposit could be returned. 


Answer: 


You do not have to account for the use of the deposit until 21 days from the date they return 

possession of the premises, so don’t refund any of the deposit. 


7. Question: 

I rented an apartment to a young man; he signed a one-year lease and paid the deposit and first 

month’s rent in full. He moved in today and less than 24 hours later, he is requesting to get out 

of his lease because another apartment that he prefers became available. Is there any kind of 

buyer’s remorse on signing a lease? 


Answer: 


Your tenant is obligated to pay rent through the lease term or until the time the premises are 

relet, whichever occurs first. There is no buyer’s remorse. 


8. Question: 

In one of my books on landlord/tenant law, it says I can require the tenant to keep up with all 

building and health codes instead of me in exchange for lower rent. Does this mean I would not 

be liable for any habitability defects? 

Answer: 

California law requires that all residential landlords have given an implied warranty of habitability 

of the premises that cannot be waived by the tenant. The only exception is if the tenant agrees 

to make necessary repairs to render the property habitable in exchange for a rent reduction 

during the time of uninhabitability. 


9. Question: 

My tenant claims he paid the rent by mailing us a money order. We never received it and he 

says we should have received it. Who would bear the loss if we do not find the missing 

payment? 


Answer: 


Under most leases, it is normally the responsibility of the tenant to ensure the landlord receives 

payment. Since it is up to the tenant to choose the method of delivery, he or she bears the risk 

that the payment is in fact made. However, some landlords will determine the method of 

delivery. In those cases, the landlord may bear the risk that the payment reaches the landlord. 


10. Question: 

One of the recent applicants to our apartment community claims he is paid “under the table”. 

How do I verify his income? 


Answer: 


You really can’t, and because he is committing fraud, you should not consider this a legal 

source of income. If they fail to otherwise qualify, deny his rental application. 


11. Question: 

One of our tenants was recently arrested and has not paid the rent. We served a notice by “nail 

and mail” and it has been over three days. How do we serve the unlawful detainer (eviction) on 

the tenant while in jail? 


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. 


© 2015 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 


.

Answer: 


Most jails will allow your process server to serve the tenant while in jail. It can take several 

hours before they are able to pull the inmate up, but your process server can be waiting for him 

or her and legally serve them while incarcerated. 


12. Question: 

One of our residents served us with a written 30-day notice and has failed to vacate after 30 

days. Can I start the eviction process or must I serve a 30-day notice first? 


Answer: 


If a residential tenant serves the landlord with a written 30-day notice and the rental term is 

month-to-month, the landlord may immediately file an unlawful detainer (eviction) action in court 

on the 31st day, providing the 30th day fell on a business day. 



JAN 2015

1. Question: 

What is the code section pertaining to the tenant’s obligation to pay rent subsequent to a 30-day 

notice? 


Answer: 


California Civil Code 1946 requires the tenant or landlord to serve a thirty-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: 

Can I keep a security deposit if the tenant moves out and does not give me a written thirty-day 

notice? 


Answer: 


Not automatically. You can deduct from the security deposit unpaid rent from the time of the 

move out until thirty days are up, or until the premises are relet, whichever happens first, 

provided you use due diligence to relet the premises. 


5. 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. 


.

6. 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: 


They would have to go through eviction procedures unless they are licensed as mini warehouse 

storage units. 


7. Question: 

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 probably is 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. 


8. 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. 


9. 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. 


10. 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. 


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. 


11. 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. 


12. Question: 

I agreed to allow a resident to move in even though he could not pay the full security deposit. 

He was supposed to pay one third of the deposit each month. He made the first two payments 

but has now failed to make the third and final installment. What type of notice should I use? 


Answer: 


The law provides that in the event of a breach of the lease other than non-payment of rent, a 

three-day notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit be utilized. Like a three-day 

notice to pay rent or quit, this notice only allows the resident three days to comply or be subject 

to unlawful detainer litigation. 


13. Question: 

I have a tenant who never pays his rent until he receives a three-day notice. We normally serve 

notices on the eighth of the month even though the rent is due on the first. He is on a one-year 

lease and I don't know my legal rights. 


Answer: 


You can try serving him with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit earlier than the eighth of the 

month. If he fails to make payment within the three-day period you have the right to refuse the 

rent and commence eviction proceedings. 


14. Question: 

One of our tenants has a guest who has been verbally abusive to me whenever I ask him who 

he is visiting. We have a large apartment community with many amenities and we need to be 

careful that complete strangers are not using our facilities. What can I do? 


Answer: 


A tenant is responsible for the conduct of his guests. Rude conduct and behavior for enforcing 

reasonable rules may lead to your decision to not renew the tenant's lease when it expires. If it 

continues or escalates to a major disturbance, an eviction can be filed. Be sure you are not 

asking “some” guests who they are visiting to avoid claims of discrimination. 


15. Question: 

I have a tenant who always "races" his car in the parking area. We have families with small 

children and a posted five mile per hour speed limit. What can I do to make him stop? 


Answer: 


Creating safety hazards on the premises in a continuous manner may be good grounds for 

eviction based upon the nuisance activity. If the reckless manner in which he operates his 

vehicle continues after warnings, a three-day notice to quit may be served. 


.

16. Question: 

I have a tenant who left her window open when it rained causing water damage to the floor. 

She said she did not have to pay for the damage because we have insurance for this type of 

thing and we did not lose anything. What should I tell her? 


Answer: 


Your insurance has nothing to do with a tenant’s responsibility for negligence. If your insurance 

paid for the damage, they would have the right to be reimbursed by the tenant who caused the 

water damage. You would also be able to recover the deductible you paid. If the tenant has 

renter's insurance, he/she may be covered for this type of loss. 


17. Question: 

We had to evict a real trouble-maker recently, but he keeps coming back to the property to use 

the swimming pool and jacuzzi. He is not anyone's guest and some of the residents are 

frightened of him. What should I do? 


Answer: 


Calling the police for a criminal trespass and disturbance of the peace is the first recommended 

action. 


18. Question: 

I have a suspicion that one of our tenants falsified his application by giving me a different name 

and social security number than his own. If I can prove this, what are my rights? I have a six-

month lease and he just moved in. 


Answer: 


If you could prove the falsification and you would not have rented to him had you known the true 

set of facts, the lease would be deemed based upon fraud and set aside. You could bring a 

successful unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit to regain possession of the premises. 


19. Question: 

My evicted tenant left the property voluntarily three days before the sheriff was scheduled to do 

the lock-out. Is it wise to keep the appointment or should I just cancel? 


Answer: 


In some cases, it only appears that the tenant has vacated voluntarily. A wrong guess could 

lead to problems. Many property managers elect to meet the sheriff for the official lock-out. 

Some property managers decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to take possession 

prior to the sheriff's arrival. 

December, 2014 


1. Question: 

Do I always have to give written notice to our resident before making a repair? They called 

yesterday and we simply made an appointment for the plumber to meet them at the property 

next week. 


Answer: 


Normally, you would have to give a written 24 hour notice, but if the tenant and the landlord 

orally agree to an entry to make repairs or supply services for a specific date and time, and the 

entry is within one week from the date of the agreement, no written notice is required. Also, in 

cases of emergency or abandonment, the landlord is not required to give written notice. 


2. Question: 

Can a resident legally drink alcohol in the outdoor common areas of an apartment community? 


Answer: 


Landlords have the right to restrict the drinking of alcohol in the common areas of the premises. 


3. Question: 

My tenant vacated and has damaged the unit more than the security deposit will cover. The 

tenant had a co-signer on the agreement. I have written the tenant and co-signer with no 

response after 30 days. Do I file a small claims action against both the tenant and the co-signer 

or should they be separate lawsuits? 


Answer: 


You can file against both of them in the same small claims court suit. 


4. Question: 

What are the reasons that a tenant can legally break a lease agreement? Is relocation due to a 

job change a legal reason to break the lease? 


Answer: 


Relocation of a job by a tenant is not a legal reason to break a lease, unless the lease allows for 

this specific event. 


5. Question: 

My rental property is a house in a rural area. I do allow animals, but do not want any pit bulls. 

Can I specifically state that? 


Answer: 


You can determine what type of animals, if any, you allow on the property and should make this 

clear in the lease or lease addendum. If the animal is a support animal for a disabled resident, 

however, different rules apply. 


6. Question: 

Our tenant has a roommate who is paying him half the rent. The roommate is not on the rental 

agreement. When the tenant vacates, can I ask the roommate to also vacate without evicting 

him? 


.

Answer: 


Your tenant is not “off the hook” until you regain possession. If you accepted rent directly from 

the roommate, the roommate most likely became your tenant as well. If the roommate doesn’t 

vacate when the tenant moves out, you will have to go through with the eviction process. The 

best idea is to have them both on the agreement. 


7. Question: 

If a tenant gives a 30-day notice on the 15th of the month, is it legal to charge them the full rent 

for the next month and return the prorated remainder of the rent once they have turned in the 

keys? 


Answer: 


No, they are only required to pay the pro rata portion of their rent for the next month. 


8. Question: 

What is the best way to say no to an application and avoid a discrimination lawsuit? The 

prospect’s credit is worse than he said it was, and I want to avoid trouble. 


Answer: 


You are required by law to inform the tenant of the reasons in writing for denying the application 

if the reason was partially or wholly based upon the credit report. The best way to deliver this 

news is to inform the prospective tenant that if he/she can get the credit history cleaned up, you 

would be happy to have him reapply. Reject the application, not the applicant. Be sure you are 

applying the same rental standards on all applicants. 


9. Question: 

Is there a mandatory, minimum, type size for leases? 


Answer: 


No, but the larger the font size, the better. Also, if you have an automatic lease renewal 

provision, it must be in at least 8-point font and bolded. 


10. Question: 

My brother manages the apartments that we own. He did not collect a security deposit. The 

tenant still has not paid it, but says he will pay this month. Can I serve him a 30-day notice if he 

does not pay by the end of the month? 


Answer: 


If you are on a month-to-month agreement, you can serve a 30-day notice. If the agreement to 

pay the security deposit was part of the lease, you can serve a 3-day notice to perform or quit. 


11. Question: 

This month’s rent check from a tenant had a second name printed below the tenant’s name on 

the upper left corner of the check. If I cash the check for this month’s rent, am I changing the 

terms of tenancy? 


Answer: 


The mere fact that another person is listed on the check does not change the terms of the 

tenancy. You should inquire about the other person or find other ways to determine if there is 

an unauthorized occupant, and if so, either have the extra person apply for residency or serve a 

3-day notice to perform covenants or quit. 


12. Question: 

If I give a 60-day notice (tenants have lived there for over a year) to tenants, can they move 

before the 60 days are up? If so, do they have to give 30 days’ notice, or can they just move? 


Answer: 


They can move out within the 60-day period by serving you with a 30-day notice. If they leave 

before the 60-days are up without serving a 30-day notice, they still owe rent up to the date the 

60-day notice expires or the premises are relet (you have to try to relet the premises). 


13. Question: 

I am considering selling a duplex I own. Both sides are rented under one year leases. A 

potential buyer said he would need to move into one side of the unit and could not wait for the 

lease to expire. If there is a sale, doesn’t that terminate any lease I have with the tenants? 


Answer: 


A voluntary sale of leased property does not terminate the rental agreement or lease; the new 

owner steps into the shoes of the former owner and has the same rights and obligations of the 

former owner. 


14. Question: 

One of our single tenants who was renting a small one bedroom unit recently died. There are 

still three months remaining on his lease. What should I do with the security deposit? 


Answer: 


A tenancy for a specified term does not terminate on the death of either the landlord or the 

tenant. Once the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate returns possession, you 

should account for the use of the deposit and direct the accounting to the administrator or 

executor. 


15. Question: 

I understand that if a building contains 16 or more units, there must be a resident manager. I 

have given some responsibilities to an on-site maintenance person, but I do not call him a 

resident manager. Does this situation comply with the law? 


Answer: 


The California Administrative Code requires that a building containing 16 or more units on a 

parcel must have a person who lives on site and is responsible for representing the owner of the 

property. The person does not, however, have to be a “resident manager.” 


16. Question: 

I served a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit and inadvertently asked for ten dollars less than the 

current rent which is due. The rent is $885 per month and I asked for $875 (I forgot to add the 

rent increase, which was effective three months ago). The resident paid the lower amount and 

now I want to serve a notice for the ten dollars owed. He says I blew it and he does not owe it. 

Is he right? 


Answer: 


The fact that a notice to pay delinquent for a lowered amount does not automatically prevent the 

owner or manager from demanding the full payment. Service of a 3-day notice for the difference 

should be enforceable. 

17. Question: 

How can we enforce the entry rules clause in our lease? One of our residents is refusing to 

show the rental unit to a prospective purchaser of the building. 


Answer: 


California’s Civil Code, among other permitted uses, specifically requires residential tenants to 

allow the landlord to show the rental unit to prospective purchasers and their agents. Failure to 

comply could lead to an action for unlawful detainer after service of a 3-day notice to perform or 

quit if the resident refused to give reasonable dates and times for the entry. 


18. Question: 

I have a tenant who is driving everyone in the apartment complex nuts. He plays his stereo and 

television all day and all night and keeps everyone up. We call the police constantly but they 

can only do so much. I want to evict him but he signed a one-year lease. None of the notices I 

have make sense in this situation. What can I do to get this noisy tenant out? 


Answer: 


If the tenant is producing major and continual disturbances to the quiet enjoyment of the 

neighboring property and it is severe enough, the court could allow you to evict the tenant after 

service of a 3-day notice to vacate. This notice does not allow the tenant to cure anything. 

Therefore, it has to be a severe situation. Otherwise, writing warning letters and documenting 

the disturbances can bolster your case if the tenant does not stay quiet. 


19. Question: 

My rental unit is 15 years old. One month after a large man rented my unit the shower pan 

cracked. We are sure it was because of his weight. Who is responsible for the repair? 


Answer: 


If the crack was due to “normal wear and tear,” it is your expense. If it was caused by 

extraordinary wear and tear, i.e. abuse, it is his expense. The tenant could argue that a shower 

pan should hold any person’s weight, but it also depends upon the way it was used and the age 

of the pan. 



November, 2014 

1. Question: 

Our tenant, who has lived there for more than one year, is on a month-to-month term and the 

house he is renting has been listed for sale. We understand that when a property is being sold, 

the 60-day notice of termination of tenancy is not required and that a 30-day notice is permitted 

once an escrow is opened. Is that correct? 

Answer: 


A 30-day notice may be given in these circumstances only: if it is a single family residence, the 

buyer is going to move in and live there for at least one year, the notice is given within 120 days 

from the date escrow opens, and the tenant was not already served with a 60-day notice. 


2. Question: 

A tenant gave a 30-day notice of move out on the 10th of the month and turned in his keys to the 

owner 5 days later on the 15th. Is he still liable for the balance of the rent owed? 


Answer: 


Yes, the tenant still owes for the 30-day notice period, unless the landlord is able to relet the 

premises before then. The landlord has to make a diligent effort to relet. 


3. Question: 

A husband, wife and three children reside in an apartment. The husband was granted a 

restraining order, preventing the wife from living in the unit. The wife is now requesting a copy 

of the lease. Should we officially remove her name? 


Answer: 


No, but you should give her a copy of the lease. You should also have a copy of the restraining 

order and, if accurate, not allow her access to the unit. 


4. Question: 

We have served our tenant a 60-day notice of termination of tenancy; however they have quit 

paying the rent. Now we are preparing to send a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. What is the 

next step if they do not pay? 


Answer: 


If the tenant does not comply with the 3-day notice by paying the rent, you can commence 

eviction procedures. If the rent owed is paid, the 60-day notice is still valid unless you asked for 

rent that goes beyond the 60-day notice period. 


5. Question: 

Our tenants were supposed to move out in two weeks. However, the house they were moving 

into is not completed and they need to stay for another fifteen days. I have no problem with this, 

but my question to you is what if they do not vacate on time? 


Answer: 


You should have them sign an extension of their lease so if they fail to vacate you can proceed 

with an action for unlawful detainer. 


.

6. Question: 

When you return a security deposit disposition to the vacating tenant, what is the statute of 

limitations if they do not agree with the deductions and wish to sue in small claims court? 


Answer: 


If your rental or lease agreement was in writing, the statute of limitations is four years. If the 

agreement was verbal, it is two years. The time starts to run from the date of the alleged 

breach. 


7. Question: 

My renter was backing downstairs carrying a 38-pound bag of clothes and fell and broke her 

wrist. Can I be sued and a judgment obtained against me? 


Answer: 


You would only be liable if you were negligent in the way you maintained the stairs and your 

negligence was a proximate cause of the injury. You should notify your insurance carrier as 

soon as possible. 


8. Question: 

Our window was broken by a golf ball hit by the tenant of a neighboring property. They admitted 

they owed me for a new window but moved away before I could collect on it. Is the owner of the 

property responsible because it was their tenant? 


Answer: 


The owner of rental property is not normally responsible for the unforeseeable acts of their 

tenant. In order for the owner to be liable, you would have to prove that the owner knew or 

should have known his tenant would have caused physical damage to your property, and the 

owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect your property from harm. 


9. Question: 

One of our residents admitted to breaking a window in his unit. Our management company 

wants to make the repair and deduct it from his security deposit. Please give us your opinion if 

our management company is using proper procedures. 


Answer: 


A resident is liable for damage to the unit caused by any resident or their guests and invitees. 

The owner/manager, however, can make the repairs and require the resident to reimburse them 

for the costs of repair. The owner/manager can either deduct the amount from the resident's 

security deposit or serve the resident with a 3-day notice to pay for the repair. If the resident 

fails to do so within 3 days, the eviction process may begin. 


10. Question: 

How long is an eviction kept on credit reports? Does it state the apartment complex or the 

owner's name on the credit report? 


Answer: 


Credit bureaus delete judgments from a consumer’s credit report after seven years. The 

apartment complex will appear on the credit report as the plaintiff in the eviction case if the case 

is filed in court with the apartment complex named as the plaintiff. 


11. Question: 

I have a resident who was just put in a detoxification clinic. Her sister wants me to allow her 

inside to remove all of her personal possessions and move her out because she says the 

resident is not planning on returning. What can I do to protect myself from being sued by the 

resident because someone took her belongings and management re-rented the unit? 



Under California law, you do not have the legal right to allow the sister inside to collect your 

resident's personal items without the consent of the resident. Therefore, any family member 

who wants inside should provide written authorization from the resident or power of attorney 

allowing them to enter the unit. Make sure the signatures match or require a notarized 

statement and check identification. Likewise, if the resident is intending to vacate the unit that 

should also clearly be stated in writing by the resident. 


12. Question: 

I am an on-site manager and I am upset because I was tape-recorded without my knowledge or 

permission by someone who was "shopping" the apartment community. Is this legal? 


Answer: 


The law protects individuals from being secretly tape-recorded during conversations in a 

situation where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. There are civil, as well as criminal, 

penalties for violation of the rights of privacy through secret tape recordings. However, there is 

no violation in cases where the expectation of privacy does not exist, such as telephone 

answering devices. 


13. Question: 

My understanding is that unlawful detainer actions remove the tenant from a specific rental unit. 

My contention is that the tenant is also not allowed anywhere on the premises of the common 

areas of the premises after an eviction. Frequently the evicted tenant hangs around the 

premises and causes additional problems out of spite. What can be done and what are my 

legal rights as owner? 


Answer: 


If an evicted tenant returns to the common area of the rental property without invitation by any of 

the current residents, or without your permission or consent, he or she is trespassing. The 

common area of the apartment community is under the direct control of the owner and manager, 

and anyone present without authority or consent is guilty of trespass. 


14. Question: 

I received a judgment against my tenant for past due rent and costs of the suit. How do I collect 

the judgment? How long is it in effect? Do I have to take the tenant back to court to collect? 


Answer: 


Once you receive a judgment for money, half the battle is the collection of the judgment. 

California law allows owners of judgments to garnish wages, levy on bank accounts or other 

non-exempt personal property and conduct judgment debtor examinations in court to locate 

assets or wages. The judgment is good for 10 years and can be renewed if the court is 

convinced that you have diligently pursued collection of the judgment. 



OCTOBER  2014

1. Question:

A new tenant signed a six-month lease. Now, he claims he feels unsafe because of an incident

at the property and wants to terminate the lease. The tenant claims he has a 72-hour period to

rescind the lease after it is executed. Is this true?

Answer:

There is no 72-hour right of rescission for residential leases.

2. Question:

Is there a law on the length of time a resident must reside in an apartment not to be charged for

paint or carpet when they move out? What are the guidelines?

Answer:

No, the tenant can always be charged for painting or carpet cleaning and/or replacement that is

beyond ordinary wear and tear.

3. Question:

I served a three-day notice on my tenants and they paid $300 of the $1050 that was due. Do I

have to serve another three-day notice to start the eviction? Should I have accepted payment?

Answer:

You did not have to accept partial payment but since you did, you must start over with a new

notice.

4. Question:

We have a one-year lease with a tenant that will expire in four months. If we sell the house

now, and the buyer wants to move in, would we be able to break the lease?

Answer:

The buyer “steps into the shoes” of the seller and the lease is binding upon the new owner.

5. Question:

I allowed a tenant to move-in and pay the security deposit in several payments. They are not

able to make the final payment. What can I do?

Answer:

You can serve a three-day notice to perform conditions or covenants or quit. If the tenant fails

to pay the deposit within three days from legal service of the notice, you can commence the

eviction process (unlawful detainer).

6. Question:

Is the procedure for evicting a tenant from a garage any different than for a tenant who lives in a

residential unit? Is delivering a notice to a post office box legally acceptable?

Answer:

The eviction process is the same. The notice should be mailed to the post office box and

another copy attached to the door of the garage the same day. Even though it may not be

delivered, send another notice via mail, same day to the garage, since the code literally requires

mailing and posting to the rented premises.


7. Question:

Is there any way to impose a rent increase on tenants with a lease or do you have to wait until

the lease is expired? Can you raise rents on specific units and not all units?

Answer:

You have to wait until the lease expires unless the lease term contained an automatic rent

increase. If there is an objective business reason, you can raise rent on some units and not

others, as long as it does not violate fair housing laws. Many owners increase the rent on the

tenants’ anniversary dates.

8. Question:

I have a tenant who has been late with the rent on a number of occasions. I charge him a late

fee and he pays it. When his lease expires, do I have to renew?

Answer:

Unless you are in a rent-controlled city, you are not required to renew a tenant’s fixed term

lease and do not need to have or state a reason for non-renewal.

9. Question:

We want to give notice to vacate to a renter of a garage who has been in occupancy for over

one year. Can we give a thirty-day notice or does the sixty-day notice rule apply for garages as

well?

Answer:

You can give a thirty-day notice. Sixty-day notices are only required for residential property

when the tenant has been in possession for one year or longer and the rental agreement is

month-to-month.

10. Question:

My tenant fixes his motorcycle in the living room of his apartment. I have warned him that he

did not have a right to use our apartment as an auto repair shop. He says as long as he leaves

the apartment clean, he has the right to work on his motorcycle. What should I do?

Answer:

You should review your lease to see if he is breaching any particular condition of promise. If

not, and you are on a month-to-month tenancy, you could threaten to serve him with a thirty-day

notice to quit, or to change the terms of tenancy. If you are not on a month-to-month tenancy,

you must find a breach and serve a three-day notice to comply. If he fails to meet the demands

of the notice, the eviction lawsuit may be filed.

11. Question:

I am the resident manager of an apartment complex where we only offer one year leases. After

six months, one of our residents gave me a thirty-day notice because he lost his job. I informed

him that a thirty-day notice is not effective during a long term lease, so he wrote me a letter

saying he was leaving because of the loud noise coming from the swimming pool late at night.

He said his attorney said he could legally do this. Is this true?

Answer:

It appears that the real reason for leaving is his inability to continue to pay rent, but even if there

was disruptive behavior in the swimming pool, he could not legally quit the premises unless he

could prove that you were negligent in maintaining peace and quiet in the apartment community.

If you took reasonable steps to maintain the quiet enjoyment of the property, the resident is

required to pay you for the remainder of the lease term.


12. Question:

Are the laws any different between "motels" and "apartments"? Where could I get a booklet or

more information on this matter?

Answer:

The laws are significantly different between motels and rental housing. For instance if a motel

customer fails to pay, the police can be immediately called to remove the customer. In a

residential rental dwelling such as an apartment, however, the owner must go through the

tenant eviction process to regain possession. You may be able to obtain information from the

California Lodging Association and the California Apartment Association.

13. Question:

I am an owner of several small apartment buildings. What legal responsibility and liability does

an owner have for changing locks when changing tenants?

Answer:

An owner or manager of rental property is held to the same standard of care that would be

required by a reasonable and prudent owner or manager in like circumstances. In other words,

if one of your residents claims they were robbed or injured by someone who had a key to their

apartment, they could claim you were responsible. They could prevail in court if the trier of fact

believed that a reasonably prudent owner/manager would have changed the locks when the

former resident vacated the rental unit.

14. Question:

I have been asked by another property manager if a former tenant of mine caused any problems

and if I would rent to him again. I suspected that he was a drug dealer or at least a drug user

but I cannot prove it. What can I tell her?

Answer:

If you are unsure, you should remain silent. From a legal point of view, it is always safest to say

nothing. However, if you choose to do so, you should only reveal information, if any, that you

know to be true and can be documented. When making a recommendation, you are always

running the risk that the person you are referring to believes you are defaming their good name.

Making timely notes of what you said and who you spoke to, will be valuable if you are

questioned about the conversation in the future. Discuss only facts that pertain to compliance

with your lease or rental agreement.

15. Question:

I suspect there are at least five people living in a one-bedroom apartment in one of our units.

The lease only allows three persons and they have not paid rent. I want to serve a three-day

notice to pay rent or quit, but I do not know all of their names. What should I do?

Answer:

If you serve a three-day notice, address it to the occupants for which you have the names and

also to "all others in possession." If they pay the rent, however, you may have agreed to the

additional people living there. If you do not intend to allow their occupancy, you could also

serve a three-day notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit requiring that the

additional people vacate within three days. If either or both of the notices are not complied with,

you can commence with an eviction in court.

16. Question:

A tenant of three years recently vacated with only a verbal two-week notice. Can she be

charged for unpaid rent? She did not have a lease agreement and never signed anything

stating that she would give a thirty-day notice.

Answer:

If the rent is paid monthly and there is no term stated in the lease, written or verbal, the law

presumes you are under a month-to-month agreement which requires a thirty-day written notice

to terminate. If no written notice was given, the former tenant owes rent up to thirty days or until

the time you relet the premises (you have to try), whichever occurs first.




September, 2014

1. Question:

I recently purchased a triplex, and the escrow will be closing in a couple of days. The tenants

are currently on a month-to-month rental agreement. Do I have to wait until the end of the

month or can I serve a 30-day notice as soon as I take possession of the property?

Answer:

You can serve a 30-day notice at any time in a month-to-month tenancy. You do not need to

wait until the end of the month. You are also entitled to rent for the 30-day time period. If all of

the tenants in the unit have been a resident for more than one year, a 60-day notice is required

to be served.

2. Question:

I have heard five different answers from five different people. Please, tell me what I can legally

deduct from my tenant's security deposit.

Answer:

Rights and obligations regarding a residential tenants' security deposit are governed by

California Civil Code Section 1950.5. It is clear that you can use the deposit for cleaning,

delinquent rent and damages above ordinary wear and tear. What is considered ordinary "wear

and tear" is subject to a variety of opinions by judges. In order to convince a court that the

damages were extraordinary, check-in and check-out records of the condition of the apartment,

pictures, receipts and opinions from those who did the work make the job of determining

ordinary wear and tear easier for the court to decide.

3. Question:

I have filed an eviction against one of my residents for failing to pay rent for the last two months.

I served the notice on a Saturday and someone said I had to serve it on a business day. Are

they right?

Answer:

No. A 3-day notice for breach of the lease can be served on any day. The tenant has three full

days to comply, but the last day of the notice must end on a business day.

4. Question:

I am a manager of a 56-unit complex. One of the tenants informed me that his girlfriend moved

in. I gave him an application and told him to have her fill it out and then return it to me. It has

been ten days and I have not gotten it back.

Answer:

If the lease prohibits the assigning or subletting of the premises without your permission, you

can serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform Conditions and/or Covenants or Quit, detailing the

violation. The notice should require that they either turn in the application or she must vacate

the property within the 3-day period. If they do not comply with the notice, you could commence

eviction procedures.


5. Question:

I served one of my tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. He did not comply so I

served a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not move out by the 30th day, should I call

the sheriff to evict him?

Answer:

The sheriff will not evict your resident unless you have gone through the unlawful detainer

lawsuit and produced a judgment for possession. You could have filed the unlawful detainer

action after the 3-day notice expired; you did not need to give the tenant an additional 30 days.

6. Question:

I recently received an application from a young married couple. He is twenty but she is only

seventeen. I told her she was too young to sign the rental agreement and he had to qualify on

his own even though she was working. She said because she was married, she was qualified

to sign. I never heard of this law. Is she right?

Answer:

California recognizes an individual's right to enter into binding contracts if they are eighteen

years of age or older, in active duty in the military, married, or are emancipated by order of the

court. You therefore should treat her the same way as you would any other adult applicant.

7. Question:

A couple recently applied for one of our vacant units. They have jobs but do not quite qualify for

the unit (they need to make three times the amount of the rent). They said that his father would

be willing to co-sign as a guarantor in order to qualify. How should I work this arrangement on

the lease?

Answer:

Guarantor agreements are separate and distinct from the lease and may be rendered void if the

lease is modified without the knowledge or consent of the co-signor or guarantor. Carefully

drafted guarantee agreements can eliminate this risk.

8. Question:

One of my two tenants on the lease moved out due to a job transfer. The remaining tenant

would like to stay and pay the entire amount. Do I need to write up a new lease or simply

prepare an addendum stating the remaining tenant is solely responsible?

Answer:

You can either have the tenant sign a new lease or just keep the current one in place. There is

no need to have a new lease drawn up unless you are changing some of the terms and the

current resident is in agreement. Each resident is already obligated to pay the entire amount of

the rent under most leases if they have a clause that states the residents are “jointly and

severally liable” for all requirements under the lease including the payment of rent.


9. Question:

The money judgment I received in my unlawful detainer (eviction) case does not include

physical damages made to the apartment. Since I already filed a money judgment, will that

prevent me from getting a judgment for the damages made to the apartment later?


Answer:

The unlawful detainer judgment only allows a judgment comprised of rent up to the time of

possession, or if a trial, up to the date of trial, court costs and attorney’s fees. Any other item

owed by the tenant can be pursued in small claims court.





August, 2014 


1. 

Question: My tenant claims that since she moved out on day three of the 3-Day Notice 

to Pay Rent or Quit, she is not responsible for any rent. Is that true? 

That is false. Your tenant cannot “benefit from her breach.” She is still responsible for 

the remainder of her lease term or until you re-rent the property, whichever occurs first. 


2. 

Question: I have three roommates on a lease. One of them moved out. Do I have to 

refund his portion of the security deposit? 

No. The security deposit remains with the apartment. You do not need to provide the 

security deposit accounting until everyone vacates. You then have 21 days to do so. 


3. 

Question: One of my resident passed away over the weekend. What happens to the 

lease now? 

If the resident was on a lease, his estate is still liable for the rent until that lease expires 

or until relet, whichever occurs first. If it was a month-to-month tenancy, then the lease 

is terminated as of the end of the period last paid for by the tenant. 


4. 

Question: The guest of one of my residents broke the window of the unit. Our lease 

states that residents are responsible for damages caused by them and/or their guests. 

The resident is refusing to pay and said she is not responsible as the damage was 

caused by her friend. The resident is adamant that I must first attempt to sue/collect 

against the friend (who I do not have any contact information for) before I can try to 

come after the resident directly. Is that correct? 

The resident is responsible for the conduct of their guests. There is no legal requirement 

to try to locate or sue the “friend” first. 


5. 

Question: I rented a unit and forgot to have the resident sign a lease. The resident 

moved in a pet cat without my consent. I never explicitly told the resident “no pets” but I 

do not want any pets in the building. What can I do? 

Without a written lease which included a “no pet” provision, you cannot immediately 

require the pet’s removal. However, if the oral tenancy is month-to-month, you can 

serve a 30-Day Notice of Change of Terms of Tenancy to institute a “no pet” provision. 

(Note: Many local rent control or other ordinances may prohibit unilateral changes to the 

tenancy and may restrict a landlord’s ability to pursue this option.) 


.

6. 

Question: Can I post a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit on the door of the apartment 

without knocking first? I would rather avoid seeing the tenant face-to-face? 

California Code of Civil Procedure §1162 requires an attempt of personal service at the 

residence (or place of business, if known) before resorting to alternate methods of 

service. You should therefore, always knock on the main entry door at the unit before 

posting and mailing a copy. 


7. 

Question: If I miss sending a security deposit disposition with 21 days as required by 

law, must I return the entire deposit rather than deduct amounts owed such as 

outstanding rent? 

The law is silent on this point. As a result, some judges do and some judges do not 

allow the landlord to make a deduction from the deposit if not property accounted for in 

accordance with California law. However, this does not mean that the damages to the 

unit, necessary cleaning and unpaid rent are not owed. In any event, the landlord can 

pursue any monetary claims they have against the former tenant in small claims court 

notwithstanding they failed to properly account for the use of the deposit. 


8. 

Question: I served a 60-Day Notice to Terminate Tenancy last month, now the tenant 

has not paid rent for this month. Can I serve a 3-Day Pay Rent or Quit without 

invalidating my 60-Day? 

Yes, so long as you do not ask for rent that goes beyond the 60-day notice period. 


9. 

Question: The resident claims there’s mold in his apartment but now won’t let my 

maintenance person in to inspect for or make repairs. What can I do? 

You can serve the resident with a Notice to Perform Conditions and/or Quit requiring 

them to provide reasonable dates and times for the entry. If they fail to comply, you can 

commence an action for unlawful detainer (eviction) and apply for a court order allowing 

you access to the unit to make necessary repairs before possession of the unit is 

returned. 


July, 2014 


1. 

Question: Can I accept rent after serving a notice for an issue other than payment. For 

example: an unauthorized occupant notice. 

You should always check with a knowledgeable attorney to determine whether you should 

accept rent or not if the notice served was for something other than payment. Often times 

accepting rent after serving a notice can waive the notice. 


2. 

Question: At what point does my property require an onsite resident manager? 

If your property has 16 units or more, you are required to have a person onsite who 

represents the owner. 


3. 

Question: A resident at my property was taken to the hospital and passed away. Since 

the lease requires a 30-day notice, what is the law as far as reimbursement of the 

deposit? 

When a tenant passes, the month-to-month tenancy is terminated 30 days from the date of 

the decedent’s last rent payment. Therefore, you have 21 days from that date to account for 

the security deposit assuming that you have taken over possession of the unit. If anyone 

else is claiming a right to possession, you would need to go through the eviction process. 


4. 

Question: We rent garages out to our residents. One of the residents moved a bed and 

some furniture in the garage and we believe someone is sleeping there. What can we 

do to make sure we do not have any issues with the use of the garage as a bedroom? 

If you have a separate month-to-month agreement for the garage, you can terminate the 

garage rental with a 30-Day Notice to Perform Conditions or Quit to require the removal of 

the bed. 


5. 

Question: My resident is not parking in his assigned parking space on the property. 

Can we issue him a parking citation for parking in the wrong place? 

No, you cannot issue a parking citation. Only the local traffic enforcement agency has the 

ability to issue parking citations. You can either issue a Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit 

if the resident is violating your parking rules, or tow the resident’s car. 


6. 

Question: I have a resident who has bed bugs in his unit. He refuses to allow access to 

his unit so that we can start treatment. Can we evict him? Can we charge for the cost of 

treatment? 

.

First, you need to send a Notice to Perform Covenant of Quit for refusal to allow access. If 

your resident fails to provide access prior to the expiration date of the notice, you can start 

the eviction process. As for charging the resident for treatment, if you can show that the 

resident is responsible for the infestation, you should be able to charge. It is important to 

have a professional pest control vendor who specializes in bed bugs that can provide you 

with a detailed report regarding the source of the infestation, how long the unit has been 

infested, and any other information which will help show that it was the resident who caused 

the infestation. 


7. 

Question: Can I post a 24 hour notice to check to see if a tenant complied with a notice 

that was served (unauthorized occupant, unauthorized dog, etc…)? 

No, California law limits the reasons in which a landlord can enter a unit. Under California 

Civil Code Section 1954, a landlord can enter a dwelling for the following reasons: (1) in 

case of emergency; (2) to make necessary or agreed upon repairs, decorations, alterations 

or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to 

prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors, or to make 

an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of 1950.5; (4) pursuant to court order. 


8. 

Question: I served my resident a 30-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy on the 15th 

of the month. My resident says I have to wait until the end of the month to serve the 

notice, is that correct? 

No. Under California law, either party can serve an appropriate 30-Day Notice of 

Termination of Tenancy any day of the month. Your notice will expire 30 days from the date 

you served the notice, so make sure you do not accept rent beyond that point. 


9. 

Question: My lease states that the rent is due on the first of the month. If the first of 

the month falls on a weekend, can I require my tenants to pay rent on the weekend if my 

rental office is open on the weekend. 

No. If the rent is due on the first, and the first of the month falls on a weekend or holiday, 

pursuant to California law, the tenant has until the next business day to pay the rent. For 

example: If the first falls on a Saturday, the resident has all day Monday to pay the rent 

(assuming Monday is not a holiday), and you cannot serve a 3-day notice until Tuesday at 

the earliest. 


10. 

Question: I served a 60-day notice that expires on the 15th of the month. How much 

rent should I accept for the month in which the notice expires? 

You can only accept 15 days of rent for that particular month. You calculate the pro-rated 

daily value as follows: (1) divide the monthly rent by 30 (days), (2) do not round up or down 

(in other words, clear the calculator screen), and (3) multiply the daily value by the number 

of days. For example, you calculate 15 days of rent for the monthly rent of $1000.00 as 


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. 


© 2014 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 


.

follows: $1000.00 divided by 30 is $33.33; then multiply $33.33 by 15 days; and your prorated 

rent for the 15 days would be $499.95. 


11. 

Question: I want to serve a 60-day notice. However, when I calculate the expiration of 

the notice, it falls at the middle of the month. Can I extend the expiration of the notice to 

expire at the end of the month, therefore making the notice in excess of 60 days? 

Many notices will specifically state language similar to the following:…within 60 days after 

service upon you of this notice, or (insert date), whichever is later, your tenancy shall be 

terminated. You can insert a termination date later than the 60 day expiration. You can 

have the expiration date fall at the end of the month. Therefore, you can accept the full 

month of that particular month’s rent. If a 60-day notice expires in the middle of the month, 

you have to be cautious of not accepting rent beyond the expiration of the notice. 


12. Question: Per the rental agreement, rent is due on the first day of each month and, if 

rent is not received by the 5th day, then a late charge will be incurred by the tenant. If 

my tenant fails to pay rent, do I have to wait until the 5th day of the month before I serve 

a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit? 

No. You can serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit the following day after the rent is 

due. Be aware that if the due date falls on a weekend or holiday, you must carry the due 

date to the following first business day. 


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. 


© 2014 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP 



June, 2014

1. Question: One of my tenants has notified me that she has filed for bankruptcy. She has

not paid her rent this month. Can I proceed with an eviction?

Once a tenant files for bankruptcy, he or she will be entitled to an automatic “stay” of any

legal proceedings against him or her. This includes an unlawful detainer action. You will be

required to file a motion for “relief from stay” before serving any notices or bringing an

eviction action.

2. Question: I have an applicant who wants to bring her cat with her to the apartment.

Can I require her to de-claw the cat before bringing it onto my rental property?

No. California law prohibits a landlord from requiring a resident to have a pet de-clawed or

de-vocalized as a condition of occupancy.

3. Question: I have had numerous problems with residents who smoke tobacco, including

complaints from neighbors, damage to the rental unit, etc… Can I institute a policy that

my rental property is smoke-free?

Yes. California law permits a landlord to designate their property as smoke-free.

4. Question: After serving a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, does the day of service

count towards the three-day period?

The first day of service does not count towards the three-day period. The first day to count

is the day after service of the notice was completed. The tenant must have three full days

after service before filing the Summons and Complaint.

5. Question: May I demand a late charge in a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit?

No. Do not demand any other fees or charges other than the tenant’s past due rent in a 3-

Day Notice. For example, do not include utility charges or interest in the notice even if a

written lease or rental agreement states you are entitled to these payments. A separate 3-

Day Notice for all other fees owed may be served along with the 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent

or Quit.

6. Question: Am I entitled to use a deceased tenant’s security deposit?

You are entitled to use a deceased tenant’s security deposit to cover unpaid rent, pay for

damage beyond normal wear and tear, and to perform necessary cleaning to the unit.


May, 2014

1. Question: The non-payment of rent notice I served on the tenant has expired. The

tenant is now trying to pay the rent, but I do not want to accept payment and would

like to return it. How can I return their payment?

You can return the tenant’s payment by personal delivery or sending it by regular mail. You

are not required to send it by certified mail. It is important to return the payment as soon as

possible.

2. Question: I have an ongoing unlawful detainer against one of my tenant’s but

he/she is continuing to create a disturbance at the property. Is there any way that

the unlawful detainer can be expedited?

Unfortunately, no. However, unlawful detainer actions have priority over other civil matters.

If the tenant is engaging in a serious or criminal disturbance, call the police.

3. Question: My tenant was just evicted and the majority of his/her items are still in the

unit. Do I need to give him/her another notice to retrieve their belongings?

No, once you go through the court eviction process and the Sheriff conducts a lockout, the

Sheriff notifies your tenant of their rights to their personal property.

4. Question: I recently won an unlawful detainer case against a tenant and a lockout by

the Sheriff has been scheduled. Now I get a notice that somebody I never heard of

says that he is a tenant and entitled to a trial and that the lockout will not be going

forward as scheduled? How can this be?

It seems that your unknown tenant has filed a Third Party Claim. A landlord can protect

himself from such tactics by serving, at the time of service of the unlawful detainer, all

unknown occupants.

5. Question: I own a unit that is rent controlled. I have a tenant who is troublesome

and I would like to evict him. How can I do this?

You did not mention what city you live in. There are a number of rent controlled cities in

California and each of them have different laws regarding rent controlled properties.

Depending on your city, there are different procedures that must be complied with.

Typically, rent controlled cities allow a landlord to evict for non-payment of rent or for breach

of a material lease provision such as causing harm or a nuisance to other tenants, breaking

laws such as dealing drugs or causing certain specified problems.

 





MARCH 2014


1. Question: Are e-mail communications between tenant and landlord admissible in court?


Answer: Yes, e-mails can be allowed into evidence, but cannot be used to serve notices.


2. Question: I want to serve a three-day notice to pay rent or quit to a tenant who is very late

on his rent. The rental amount listed on the lease is $875.00 plus an additional $25.00 for

parking. The tenant has paid the $900.00 for the past 24 months. Which amount should be

placed on the notice?


Answer: It is safer to serve a separate three-day notice to pay rent or quit, as well as a threeday





to perform conditions and covenants or quit for the parking charge at the same time. If they

do not pay either one, or both, you can proceed with the eviction process.


3. Question: When a month-to-month resident decides to vacate after being served a threeday

notice to pay or quit, do the owners have the right to charge for thirty days after the moveout

to comply with their month-to-month agreement?


Answer: Yes, you can charge up to the time the premises are relet or thirty days from the date

of their departure, whichever occurs first, so long as you make diligent attempts to relet the

property.


4. Question: Our tenant gave a thirty-day notice of termination, intending to move out on the

10th of the next month. Since the rent was due on the first of the month, can we require the

tenant to have given thirty-days’ notice on the first of the month?


Answer: Once you are on a month-to-month tenancy, either party can terminate it by serving a

thirty-day notice at any time. They are, however, responsible for the rent up to the date the

thirty-day notice expires, so they would owe pro rata rent for the following month.


5. Question: We have a tenant who has been provoking other tenants so we gave her a thirtyday

notice. She is now very angry and has flooded her apartment and the three apartments

below her by inserting a roll (still on the spool) of toilet paper into her toilet and then flushing the

toilet over and over. What can we do?


Answer: You can serve a three-day notice to quit based upon this activity. If she fails to vacate

in three days, the court eviction can commence and you would not have to wait for the thirty-day

notice to expire. You can also call the police for vandalism.


6. Question: I served a tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. The tenant wrote a

personal check that bounced. Do I have to give another three-day notice?


Answer: No, you do not have to serve a new three-day notice. You can proceed directly to the

next step by filing an unlawful detainer action.


7. Question: I had to go through an eviction to regain possession of one of my rentals. I also

received a judgment for the rent, court costs and my attorneys’ fees. How can I collect this

judgment? Do I have to go back to court?


Answer: The law provides for a variety of ways to collect the judgment. Wage garnishments,

bank levys, attachment of personal property and judgment debtor examinations are formal ways

to collect monetary judgments. Of those listed, a bank levy is the most effective way to collect a

judgment. Receiving accurate information on the rental application allows optimal opportunity to

collect.


8. Question: Last Monday I served a resident with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. I

served it by posting a copy on my tenant’s door, and then the next day, I mailed a copy by

certified mail. Someone said I have to mail it through the normal mail. Isn't certified mail better

than normal mail?


Answer: The California legislature has created the procedural laws for serving a delinquent

resident with a notice to pay rent or quit. Unless the tenant admits receiving the notice, the

notice is invalid unless properly served. In this case, the law is specific and requires that a

second copy of the notice be mailed, regular mail.


9. Question: One of my tenants vacated the property and left his roommate behind. Both

signed the rental agreement and now the tenant who vacated is demanding his share of the

security deposit be returned to him. Is he right? What should I do?


Answer: You are not required to return or account for the use of the security deposit until you

regain possession of the property after the tenants have vacated. California requires the

deposit be accounted for in writing and sent to the last known address of the tenants no later

than 21 days following the return of possession unless the lease requires an earlier time frame.

The tenant who vacated early should work out an arrangement with his former roommate. You

are under no obligation to account for the deposit at this time.


10. Question: I own and manage a 10-unit apartment building. One of my tenants gave me 10

days’ notice of her intention to vacate. She wrote that she would not be responsible for rent

after that since I have a security deposit and she is on a month-to-month agreement. Is she

right?


Answer: Unless you have agreed to a shorter amount of time in which to terminate your month to-

month rental agreement, the law requires a thirty-day notice be served by either the owner or

the tenant in order to terminate the tenancy. If less than thirty days is given, the tenant is still

liable for the full thirty days unless you were able to re-let the premises before the thirty days ran

out




FEB 2014

1. Question: I understand a security deposit refund must be postmarked within 21 days of vacating the premises. Is that correct? Answer: The security deposit must be mailed within 21 calendar days of the tenant vacating the unit.


2. Question: I have a maintenance worker who was terminated and was given seven days to vacate his apartment. He has not left, and I would like to know if I need to send him through the eviction process or if there is anything else I can do to get him out. Answer: You need to send him through the eviction process. If he was purely an employee, and not paying rent, you can immediately file the unlawful detainer action


3. Question: Is it illegal for an owner to charge for his own labor (as long as it is the going rate for that type of work) and deduct that amount from the tenant’s security deposit? Answer: It is not illegal to deduct for your own labor from the tenant’s security deposit. You can charge a reasonable hourly rate and must state the time and rate in your security deposit disposition statement.


4. Question: I have a tenant that I strongly believe is selling and using drugs. What actions can I take without having any evidence? Answer: In order to use the illegal drug activity as a basis for eviction, you have to prove that the drug activity is going on; otherwise if you are on a month-to-month tenancy, you can serve a 30 or 60-day notice without cause unless you are in a rent controlled area.


5. Question: Our tenants have just informed us via telephone that their rent check will bounce, they don’t plan to cover it, and they intend to vacate the premises by the end of this month. They want us to use the majority of their security deposit as last month’s rent. If we don’t give a 3-day notice to pay or quit and proceed with an eviction, are we leaving ourselves more vulnerable? Answer: If you do not proceed with a 3-day notice followed up by an eviction, you could find that the tenants decide to change their minds and not move out after all, prolonging their time in possession without paying rent. The extra “motivation” is often worthwhile. In addition, the eviction will also give you a judgment for rent owed, plus court costs and if you have an attorney fee clause in your lease, attorney fees.


6. Question: I served a 60-day notice of termination because I am going to sell my home. Since then, one of the two residents moved out and is asking for his half of the security deposit. Am I responsible to return the security deposit before the second person moves out? Answer: The security deposit is normally not returned until the owner recovers possession. The tenant who vacates should work that out with the tenant who remains. It is not the responsibility of the landlord to account for the deposit until he or she recovers possession.


7. Question: Do I have to pay a tenant interest on his security deposit? Answer: There are no state laws requiring that interest be paid on the tenant’s security deposit. However, some rent control ordinances and/or other local ordinances do require interest to be paid.


8. Question: We served a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. What is the latest date we could start an unlawful detainer without our 3-day notice “becoming stale” and having to be re-served? Answer: It depends on the facts of any given case, but the longer you wait, the more of an argument you are giving the tenant. I would, in general, not wait more than one week.


9. Question: There is a very loud tenant in the apartment building across the alley from our rental. I have asked them to quiet down on numerous occasions and have even called the police. They keep playing their music late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. What else can we do? Answer: You should continue to contact the police when unreasonable disturbances occur and consider contacting the owner of the property to inform him or her of the situation. The owner may not be aware of the problem.


10. Question: After a lease expires and it is month-to-month, how much notice must a tenant give me in order to legally terminate the lease? He says one week. Is this true? Answer: In California, 30-days written notice is required to terminate a month-to-month tenancy and can be served by either party at any time during the tenancy. If all of the occupants have been in possession for one year or longer, the landlord must serve a 60-day notice.


11. Question: Someone told me that if a resident is committing a crime on the premises they can be evicted in 3 days. I have never heard of this law and I rent to someone I suspect is dealing in drugs. Can you tell me more about it? Answer: California law does allow an owner or manager of rental property to serve a 3-day notice to quit the premises based upon the commission of an illegal act on the property. The illegal conduct must, however, relate to the rented property. For instance, if you can prove your tenant was dealing with or possessed illegal drugs on the premises, you could serve the 3-day notice. If the tenant failed to quit, an unlawful detainer action could be filed in court to recover possession.


12. Question: One of our tenants just vacated the premises but left a large amount of personal property behind. Included was a locked chest. What should I do? Can I tell my tenant that I will give him back his property when he pays me for the rent he still owes me? Answer: If a resident leaves behind abandoned personal property after surrendering possession of the rental unit, the landlord is protected by California law if they keep the property safe for a period of 18 days from the date a notice of abandonment of personal property is mailed to the tenant's last known address. If the tenant claims the property, the only condition of release is that the tenant pay reasonable storage costs, but only from the date the owner regained possession of the rented premises. If the property is not reclaimed and if the property is worth less than $700.00, it can be disposed of in any manner. If its value is greater than $700.00, then the property must be sold via public auction.


13. Question: One of our tenant's guests broke a window of the recreation room by throwing a ball through it. The host tenant claims he should not be responsible because the damage occurred outside the apartment and while they were playing catch in the common area. My tenant also refuses to give me the name or any information about his guest who caused the damage. What can I do? Answer: In California, tenants are liable for the negligence of their guests while on the premises. The premises not only includes the actual rented unit, but the common area as well. Therefore the tenant and the tenant's guest are jointly liable for the damage to the window.


14. Question: I have a tenant who is on a long term lease. Recently, however, the tenant brought in a roommate and has been out of town for over 30 days. I am concerned that the roommate intends on staying and that my original tenant may have moved out for good. What are my legal options? Answer: If you have a clause in your lease which prohibits the assignment or sublet of your lease agreement, you do not have to consent to the roommate. You could ask the roommate to fill out an application to rent and thereby identify who the roommate is. Once identified, you could choose to either allow the roommate to live there if he meets your qualifications, and sign the lease or start eviction procedures based upon the breach of the assignment and sublet clause of your lease.


15. Question: My great grandfather died last year and left me his home. I am trying to rent the house and my Realtor told me that I am required to inform prospective tenants of the death of my great grandfather because he died in the home. Is this really true? If so, what is the purpose of this crazy law? Answer: Because it has been deemed to be a material fact to consider when purchasing or renting a home, California requires sellers and landlords to inform prospective purchasers and tenants if a death occurred in the premises during the last 3 years and the nature of the death, unless the death was caused by an HIV related illness.


16. Question: I want to rent out our condominium (we are buying a new house) and I need to know how much I can charge for a security deposit. Can I also charge a cleaning, pet and key deposit? Answer: California law limits the amount of a residential security deposit to twice the amount of the monthly rent if unfurnished, or three times the amount of the monthly rent if the property is furnished. The legislature recognizes all deposits as a security notwithstanding how the parties are identifying it. All deposits, taken together, cannot exceed these limits.


17. Question: The lease for one of my tenants expires at the end of this month. He told me to take the month's rent out of his security deposit because he would leave the apartment clean and in good repair. He told me since it is his deposit, he has the right to deduct rent out of the deposit. What should I do? Answer: California law requires the owner or manager to account for the use of the deposit no later than 21 days from the date the tenant vacated the unit. Since the tenant has failed to pay rent, a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit may be served. If the tenant fails to comply, an eviction may commence to produce a judgment for possession and monetary losses.


JAN 2014

1. Question: If we serve a three-day notice and the tenant decides to move out, is the tenant responsible to pay the monthly rent until the apartment is leased? Answer: The tenant is still liable for the rent until the lease expires or the apartment is relet, whichever occurs first even if he vacates pursuant to a three-day notice to perform or quit.

2. Question: I have a tenant who decided not to move in after signing a six-month lease and leaving a deposit. Can I hold her to the lease agreement that she signed? Answer: Once the tenant has signed the lease, he/she is bound by its terms and must pay rent until it expires or the premises are relet, whichever occurs first.

3. Question: If you give residents a sixty-day notice of termination of tenancy and they do not pay their rent for that month, is it okay to give them a three-day notice to pay or quit? The three- day notice does not void the sixty-day notice, does it? Answer: You can and should serve them with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, and if they fail to comply, start the unlawful detainer action. Just make sure you do not ask for rent that goes beyond the sixty-day notice period.

4. Question: My tenant has verbally notified me that he will be terminating the lease in two weeks and said to use the deposit for the two weeks rent. The contract is a month-to-month and requires thirty days notice. What can I do? Answer: You may consider giving the tenant a three-day notice to pay rent or quit for the rent owed, since a verbal notice has no legal effect.

5. Question: I would be interested in knowing what to do when a resident is demanding a repair be made inside of their apartment, but at the same time is demanding that none of the on- site maintenance staff complete the repair. Do we hire an outside vendor or must the resident allow the staff that is available to complete the repair? Answer: You should find out the reason the resident does not want on-site staff to do the repair. You have the right to choose who should do the repairs for your apartment units.

6. Question: One of my tenant’s sons just turned 18 years old. Should I obtain an application from the son, and add him to the rental agreement? Answer: You should have everyone 18 years of age or older fill out an application and sign the rental agreement.

7. Question: Upon reading a “Three-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit”, I noted the statement, “...plus Owner/Agent may seek to recover an additional punitive award of $600.00 (six hundred dollars) in accordance with California law.” I would like to know the Civil Code Section allowing for this punitive damage. Answer: The code section is California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1174(b). The section allows for up to $600.00 if you can prove malice.

8. Question: I had a tenant move out several months ago. I returned about $600.00 of his $1000.00 deposit. He disputes all but $50.00 of the deductions and has threatened to sue me. He also has not cashed the refund check. How long does he have to sue me? Answer: In California, the statute of limitations determines the time that you must bring suit to legally enforce a claim. For written agreements, it is four years from the time of the breach. For oral agreements, the statute of limitations is two years from the time of the breach.

9. Question: I rented to a married couple two years ago and now the wife has moved out and filed for divorce. The husband is still living in the unit. The wife is demanding her portion of the security deposit back since she no longer lives there. What should I do? Answer: California law does not require that the owner or manager account for the use of the security deposit until the rental unit is vacant and the manager retakes possession. At that time, the manager has 21 days to account for the use of the deposit to any named tenants.

10. Question: I have returned the balance of the security deposit to a former tenant after deducting cleaning charges and insufficient check bank charges. The former tenant claims that I cannot legally deduct the bank charges from the security deposit because that deduction was not specifically stated in the lease. What are my rights? Answer: California law allows for the use of the security deposit to include other charges than just cleaning, damage and unpaid rent. There is no legal requirement that they must be specified in the rental agreement in order to be enforced by a court.

11. Question: Our tenant gave us a thirty-day written notice to terminate her tenancy. She moved out 10 days after serving the notice and claims she only owes rent up to the day she left. Answer: She is liable up the date the thirty-day notice expires or you relet the premises, whichever occurs first. You are required to attempt to find a new resident to hold the tenant liable.


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