Civil Code 1941.2 – Tenant’s Affirmative Responsibilities

 

Civil Code 1941.2 talks a lot about what a tenant’s responsibilities are with respect to rental property in California. This is a follow up to an earlier post I wrote about Civil Code 1941.2, which can be read here. While a lot of people like to discuss the landlord’s warranty of habitability, not enough discussion is made about the duty of the tenant to maintain a safe, clean, and sanitary environment outlined in Civil Code 1941.2.

Civil Code 1941.2, also known as CC 1941.2, says that the landlord has no duty to repair a dilapidation if the tenant is in substantial violation of maintaining the property of if the tenant contributed substantially to the bad condition of the property. For example, the tenant is obligation under Civil Code 1941.2 to keep the rental property clean and sanitary. The tenant is obligation to dispose of trash and properly use all electrical, gas, and plumbing fixtures. The tenant cannot allow any other person to destroy or damage any part of the rental unit. If the tenant is found to violate any of the above, then the landlord, per Civil Code 1941.2, has no duty to repair, and the tenant’s violation of CC 1941.2 can be used by the landlord to defend against warranty of habitability claims made by the tenant.

I also want to briefly point out Civil Code 1929, which sometimes goes hand-in-hand with Civil Code 1941.2. CC 1929 states, “the hirer of a thing must repair all deteriorations or injuries thereto occasioned by his want of ordinary care.” Put another way, this means the tenant must repair any items that are damaged due to the tenant’s wrongdoing.

Is your tenant in violation of Civil Code 1941.2? You may need to evict.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski can assist landlords with unlawful detainer eviction cases. We work hard to make your case proceed as quickly as possible.

Be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to serving you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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3 Day Eviction Notice for California Landlords

 

Landlords in California should use the 3 day eviction notice for non-payment of rent when their tenant owes past-due rent.  If the tenant has not paid the rent when due, the landlord should immediately serve a 3 day eviction notice. Do not wait more than one or two days to serve the 3 day eviction notice. Each day that goes by without serving the 3 day eviction notice is lost income to the landlord, and the chances of recovering that money in an unlawful detainer judgment is not high.

Here is what a 3 day eviction notice based on non-payment of rent looks like:

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

3 Day Eviction Notice Free

Landlords and property managers can download a fillable 3 day eviction notice template along with instructions on how to properly fill it out here. We offer this 3 day eviction notice template for free for a limited time.

For more information on the 3 day eviction notice for non-payment of rent, read California Civil Code of Procedure 1161(2).

If you prefer an attorney to create the notice and a process server to serve it (this is recommended), contact us.

Note: This form may not be applicable in rent-controlled jurisdictions.

Landlords will often wait too long before serving the eviction notice. This is a common mistake. Keep in mind that the eviction notice for non-payment of rent is only step 1 of the eviction case. Once the 3 days’ expire, the landlord must then follow-up with an unlawful detainer court case. The “UD” case can take a minimum of 4 weeks, but oftentimes takes 5-7 weeks, even on a non-disputed eviction case where the tenant doesn’t fight the case. Serve the 3 day eviction notice immediately when the rent is past-due to minimize delays.

In addition to the 3 day notice discussed above, this law office offers many more forms as well.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski can assist landlords with unlawful detainer eviction cases. We work hard to make your case proceed as quickly as possible.

Be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to serving you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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Civil Code 1942.4 – A Follow Up Regarding Landlord Liability

 

Civil Code 1942.4 is an important code section that discusses the liability of a landlord who demands rent (such as by serving the tenant with a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit) under certain circumstances. This is a follow-up to my earlier blog post on Civil Code 1942.4.

A landlord found to be in violation of Civil Code 1942.4 requires landlords to repair the conditions and pay the tenant actual damages, statutory damages, and attorney fees.

Civil Code 1942.4 states, in part, that a landlord “may not demand rent, collect rent, issue a notice of a rent increase, or issue a three-day notice to pay rent or quit” if certain conditions exist prior to the landlord’s demand or notice.

Landlords should take Civil Code 1942.4 seriously and make sure to always maintain their property in a safe and sanitary condition. Landlords should conduct periodic inspections of their property to make sure the property is being maintained by the tenant and does not require any repairs. Taking these proactive steps can help a landlord when a tenant claims a breach of Civil Code 1942.4.

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Civil Code 1942.4 (CC 1942.4) Liability of Landlord in Certain Circumstances

 

Civil Code 1942.4 (also referred to simply as CC 1942.4) is a law in California’s Civil Code that discusses a landlord’s liability in demanding rent in certain circumstances, such as when the landlord is breaching the warranty of habitability or after a government agency has notified the landlord of substandard conditions.

The full text of Civil Code 1942.4 is long and difficult to read. I will quote the text, and then I will explain in lay terms, some of the more relevant portions.

Civil Code 1942.4.  

(a) A landlord of a dwelling may not demand rent, collect rent, issue a notice of a rent increase, or issue a three-day notice to pay rent or quit pursuant to subdivision (2) of Section 1161 of the Code of Civil Procedure, if all of the following conditions exist prior to the landlord’s demand or notice:

(1) The dwelling substantially lacks any of the affirmative standard characteristics listed in Section 1941.1 or violates Section 17920.10 of the Health and Safety Code, or is deemed and declared substandard as set forth in Section 17920.3 of the Health and Safety Code because conditions listed in that section exist to an extent that endangers the life, limb, health, property, safety, or welfare of the public or the occupants of the dwelling.

(2) A public officer or employee who is responsible for the enforcement of any housing law, after inspecting the premises, has notified the landlord or the landlord’s agent in writing of his or her obligations to abate the nuisance or repair the substandard conditions.

(3) The conditions have existed and have not been abated 35 days beyond the date of service of the notice specified in paragraph (2) and the delay is without good cause. For purposes of this subdivision, service shall be complete at the time of deposit in the United States mail.

(4) The conditions were not caused by an act or omission of the tenant or lessee in violation of Section 1929 or 1941.2.

(b) (1) A landlord who violates this section is liable to the tenant or lessee for the actual damages sustained by the tenant or lessee and special damages of not less than one hundred dollars ($100) and not more than five thousand dollars ($5,000).

(2) The prevailing party shall be entitled to recovery of reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the suit in an amount fixed by the court.

(c) Any court that awards damages under this section may also order the landlord to abate any nuisance at the rental dwelling and to repair any substandard conditions of the rental dwelling, as defined in Section 1941.1, which significantly or materially affect the health or safety of the occupants of the rental dwelling and are uncorrected. If the court orders repairs or corrections, or both, the court’s jurisdiction continues over the matter for the purpose of ensuring compliance.

(d) The tenant or lessee shall be under no obligation to undertake any other remedy prior to exercising his or her rights under this section.

(e) Any action under this section may be maintained in small claims court if the claim does not exceed the jurisdictional limit of that court.

(f) The remedy provided by this section may be utilized in addition to any other remedy provided by this chapter, the rental agreement, lease, or other applicable statutory or common law. Nothing in this section shall require any landlord to comply with this section if he or she pursues his or her rights pursuant to Chapter 12.75 (commencing with Section 7060) of Division 7 of Title 1 of the Government Code.

For purposes of this article, I will focus on a few key portions of Civil Code 1942.4. Basically, a landlord cannot collect rent from a tenant, or give a tenant a 3 day notice to pay or quit, or increase a tenant’s rent, under certain circumstances. For example, if the landlord is in violation of Civil Code 1941.1, then CC 1942.4 prohibits a landlord from demanding rent, collecting rent, or increasing rent. A similar prohibition applies if a government agency has notified the landlord of substandard conditions and the conditions have existed and not been corrected within 35 days, so long as the condition(s) was not caused by the tenant (see Civil Code 1941.2).

Many tenant law firms in the Los Angeles area, particularly BASTA, will raise this defense, claiming the landlord has breached Civil Code 1942.4, in an Answer to the landlord’s unlawful detainer (eviction) action. A tenant may also file a case in court against the landlord for breach of Civil Code 1942.4, even if the landlord hasn’t filed an eviction case against the tenant for non-payment of rent. There are several ways to combat and refute this tenant allegation. Keep good records and pictures! Have the tenant sign a pre move-in inspection before the tenant moves in. The tenant may very well be the cause of the damage or problem, and the tenant may be in violation of Civil Code 1941.2. The landlord can do periodic inspections and take pictures to make sure the tenant is maintaining the property and to inspect the overall condition of the property and proactively make any needed repairs. The landlord doesn’t have to wait for the tenant to notify the landlord of repairs, but can take proactive steps to inspect the property every 6 months after providing the tenant with a valid 24 hour written notice of entry.

Civil Code 1942.4 provides for liability to a landlord who violates the law. To be sure, the landlord could by liable to the tenant monetarily, and the tenant can also recover reasonable attorney fees and costs. The landlord can also be ordered to fix the problem.

As such, it is the landlord’s duty to maintain the property in a habitable condition and if the landlord knows that the property is not habitable, under Civil Code 1942.4, the landlord may not increase rent, collect rent, or serve the tenant with a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski assists landlords with unlawful detainer eviction cases. Be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to serving you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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Civil Code 827 – Rent Increase in California Tenancy

 

Civil Code 827 (“CC 827”)is the underlying California law used by landlords who wish to raise the rent on their month-to-month tenant. The full text of Civil Code 827 reads:

827.  

(a) Except as provided in subdivision (b), in all leases of lands or tenements, or of any interest therein, from week to week, month to month, or other period less than a month, the landlord may, upon giving notice in writing to the tenant, in the manner prescribed by Section 1162 of the Code of Civil Procedure, change the terms of the lease to take effect, as to tenancies for less than one month, upon the expiration of a period at least as long as the term of the hiring itself, and, as to tenancies from month to month, to take effect at the expiration of not less than 30 days, but if that change takes effect within a rental term, the rent accruing from the first day of the term to the date of that change shall be computed at the rental rate obtained immediately prior to that change; provided, however, that it shall be competent for the parties to provide by an agreement in writing that a notice changing the terms thereof may be given at any time not less than seven days before the expiration of a term, to be effective upon the expiration of the term.

The notice, when served upon the tenant, shall in and of itself operate and be effectual to create and establish, as a part of the lease, the terms, rents, and conditions specified in the notice, if the tenant shall continue to hold the premises after the notice takes effect.

(b) (1) In all leases of a residential dwelling, or of any interest therein, from week to week, month to month, or other period less than a month, the landlord may increase the rent provided in the lease or rental agreement, upon giving written notice to the tenant, as follows, by either of the following procedures:

(A) By delivering a copy to the tenant personally.

(B) By serving a copy by mail under the procedures prescribed in Section 1013 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

(2) If the proposed rent increase for that tenant is 10 percent or less of the rental amount charged to that tenant at any time during the 12 months prior to the effective date of the increase, either in and of itself or when combined with any other rent increases for the 12 months prior to the effective date of the increase, the notice shall be delivered at least 30 days prior to the effective date of the increase, and subject to Section 1013 of the Code of Civil Procedure if served by mail.

(3) For an increase in rent greater than the amount described in paragraph (2), the minimum notice period required pursuant to that paragraph shall be increased by an additional 30 days, and subject to Section 1013 of the Code of Civil Procedure if served by mail. This paragraph does not apply to an increase in rent caused by a change in a tenant’s income or family composition as determined by a recertification required by statute or regulation.

(c) If a state or federal statute, state or federal regulation, recorded regulatory agreement, or contract provides for a longer period of notice regarding a rent increase than that provided in subdivision (a) or (b), the personal service or mailing of the notice shall be in accordance with the longer period.

For purposes of this article, we will focus on rent increases only. Let me narrow it down and make it easier to understand:

If a landlord wishes to increase the rent on a tenant and the tenant is on a month-to-month agreement, the landlord needs to first determine how much of a rent increase to give the tenant. Will the rent increases during the past 12 months total 10% of less, or more than 10%? If the increase in rent is going to equal 10% or less, then 30 days’ advance written notice is required. If the rent increase is going to be more than 10%, then 60 days’ advance written notice is required.

Civil Code 827 says that all rent increase notices must be in writing. The landlord can give the notice to the tenant in person, or by mail.

If mailing the notice to the tenant, the landlord must add five (5) calendar days from the date of mailing. A Civil Code 827 rent increase notice that is mailed to the tenant must be placed in a sealed envelope, postage prepaid, addressed to the person on whom it is to be served, at the premises address.  Service is complete at the time of mailing, but you must add 5 calendar days to the 30/60 day notice period.

Landlords may only raise the rent under CC 827 if the tenant is not on a fixed-term lease. If the tenant was originally on a fixed-term lease but is currently on a month-to-month, then the landlord can use Civil Code 827 to increase the rent. I must also mention that rent increases are severally limited in many rent control areas.

You can read additional information on this topic here: Notice of Rent Increase for California Residential Lease. We also offer landlords with a Civil Code 827 Rent Increase Template.

The Law Office of David Piotrowski can assist landlords with unlawful detainer eviction cases. Be sure to check out our reviews! We look forward to serving you. We offer a free consultation on most cases.

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