Question: My tenant who moved in 3 months ago with a one year lease, has just informed me that she is moving out. What type of notice needs to be served?
Answer: There is nothing that you are legally required to send her at this time, but it is a good idea to send her a letter reminding her that she is responsible for the rent until the lease expires or the premises are relet, whichever occurs first.
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 30-day notice of change of terms of tenancy on the tenant.
Question: We have a vacancy because the tenant committed suicide. Do we have to inform new tenants of this fact?
Answer: You have to inform all prospective tenants interested in that unit that there was a death within the last three years. You also need to state the cause of death.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Question: What happens if we rent to someone who is under 18 and is not an emancipated minor?
Answer: The lease is void because the tenant did not have legal capacity to legally enter into the agreement.
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.
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.
Question: Could we be held liable if a child drowns in our pool? We have it fenced in but parents do not always watch their kids.
Answer: Yes, but only if you were found to be negligent in the design, construction or operation of the swimming pool. Your standard of care is what a reasonably prudent apartment owner or operator would have done in similar circumstances.
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.
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 of terms of tenancy. It may be served personally, by post and mail, or substituted service and mail.
Question: If we are going to spray for ants around and in the building, do we have to give the tenants any kind of notice?
Answer: If the service is ongoing pursuant to a pest control contract, you must give each new resident a copy of the initial notice the contractor provided to all the tenants. This notice warns the tenants about the chemicals contained in the pest control. If any modifications are made, the pest control company must provide new notices.
© 2011 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP