What Happens if a Tenant Wins an Eviction Case Due to the Warranty of Habitability?

If the tenant has defaulted on his or her rent obligations and the landlord sues the tenant for non-payment of rent, the tenant can raise as a defense the “warranty of habitability.”

If a tenant wins the case based on the landlord’s breach of the warranty of habitability, the following is the likely outcome:

  • The court will determine the reasonable rental value of the premises in its untenantable condition
  • The court will allow the tenant to remain in possession and the tenant will be determined to be the prevailing party, so long as the tenant pays the adjusted rental amount within 5 days
  • The court will order that the monthly rent be limited to the reasonable rental value of the property until the landlord makes the needed repairs
  • The court will award the tenant attorney fees and costs if allowed by contract or statute

Need help with an eviction in Los Angeles or San Francisco?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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Unlawful Detainer Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings in California Under CCP 438

California Code of Civil Procedure section 438 allows a party to make a motion for judgment on the pleadings in an eviction case before the actual trial. CCP 438 also allows the court to make the motion on its own.

The plaintiff (landlord) can make a motion for judgment on the pleadings if:

  • The complaint states a cause of action and the answer does not state facts sufficient to constitute a defense.

The defendant (tenant) can make a motion for judgment on the pleadings if:

  • The court does not have subject matter jurisdiction, or
  • The complaint does not state a cause of action

Landlords can sometimes obtain a judgment by this method instead of proceeding to a trial. This may reduce added cost, especially if the tenant has demanded a jury trial.

Need help with an eviction in Los Angeles or San Francisco?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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Attorney Fee Provision in California Rental Agreement – Take It Out!

The “prevailing party” in an eviction case in California might be entitled to attorney fees. Landlords might think it is a good idea to include a provision in a rental agreement that allows the prevailing party to recover attorney fees. The thinking goes that if the landlord wins, he will also be able to collect attorney fees. This is a bad idea. Landlords should REMOVE, or greatly REDUCE, any attorney fee provision in the rental agreement.

The reason is this: There are never any guarantees whenever you go to court. Even if the landlord has the strongest case ever, there is never the guarantee of winning. If, for any reason, you lose, the tenant might demand that you pay their attorney fees. You probably have the money to pay it. On the other hand, if you win the case, then sure, you can request the tenant to pay your attorney fees. But, in a good percentage of cases, the tenant doesn’t have money anyway. They weren’t paying their rent, or they were trying to get extra time in the property before they had to move. Even if you get awarded attorney fees against them, chances are you will never collect it. This is why the risk to you is great, while the benefit to you is small.

For these reasons, we recommend removing the attorney fees provision from your rental agreement, or at least minimizing the attorney fee provision to $500. My firm has created a 30 day notice that you can send your tenants for existing leases. Contact us today to receive a copy of the template to minimize any attorney fee provision in your rental agreements.

Need help with an eviction in Los Angeles or San Francisco?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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Eviction Waiver of Court Fees for Tenants in California

Tenants who meet certain financial requirements are able to waive court fees and costs. This may not seem fair. Landlords still have to pay, so why should the tenant be able to waive the court fees AND file so many items for the landlord to respond to, thereby creating a lot more work and expense for the landlord? Unfortunately, the law is unfair for landlords and until the law changes, landlords must deal with it.

Even more unfair, is that the court clerk, rather than a judge, has the authority to grant a request to waive court fees. However, the clerk does not have authority to deny the request. If the clerk has the authority to grant a fee waiver, shouldn’t the clerk also have the authority to deny a fee waiver? That would seem to make sense, but that’s not the way it works in court. Furthermore, if the court does NOTHING within 5 days after the tenant files the fee waiver application, the application will be automatically granted by operation of law.

The above just goes to show landlords an additional reason why the laws are biased against them. When the tenant is paying so little or nothing in an eviction case, this explains why they file paperwork with the court that creates much more expense and headache for the landlord, will little to no expense to the tenant.

Need help with an eviction in Los Angeles or San Francisco?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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Landlord’s Withdrawal of 30 / 60 Day Termination Notice in California

Landlord’s wishing to terminate a month-to-month tenancy may do so in most circumstances by serving a 30 or 60 day notice of termination on the tenant. The landlord can use a 30 day notice if the tenant has lived in the property for less than a year, or a 60 day notice if the tenant has lived in the property for a year or more.

Once the landlord serves a 30 or 60 day notice of termination on the tenant, normally the landlord cannot withdraw this notice. However, the notice may be withdrawn by implication if the landlord decides to accept rent that covers a period AFTER the 30/60 day notice expires. This is a trap for landlords.

A landlord may have no intention or desire to withdraw the 30/60 day notice of termination. But say, for example, the notice expires on the 15th day of the month, and the rent is due on the 1st of ever month. If the tenant tenders full payment for 1 month on the 1st, and the landlord accepts this payment (when in fact the landlord should only be accepting 15 days of rent), then the tenant can make an argument that the landlord withdrew his termination notice. In this example, the landlord would have needed to make clear that the acceptance of rent is NOT a waiver of the landlord’s termination notice.

Need help with an eviction in Los Angeles or San Francisco?  Contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski today.  Start the process of removing your bad tenant.

Read Attorney Piotrowski’s landlord book: “California Landlord Best Practices and Eviction Overview: An Easy-to-Read Guide Outlining Best Practices for California Landlords Plus a Summary of the Eviction Process.

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