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.“