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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.  

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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… Read More

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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… Read More

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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.

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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. 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 three-day notice… Read More

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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. Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP 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.

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Question: I had a tenant move out several months ago. I returned $600 of his $1,000 deposit. He disputes all but $50 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? Ted Kimball Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP 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… Read More

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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.

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Question: One of our residents brought in a roommate without my permission or consent. We have a clause in our lease prohibiting assignments or sublets of the lease. How do I prove the tenant is in violation of the lease? Answer: In many cases it is difficult to prove because many times the claim is that they are just overnight guests. However, if there is enough circumstantial evidence, such as receiving mail at the premises, traveling to and from work, using the laundry and other facilities regularly, you will have enough proof to satisfy most judges. Question: If we serve… Read More

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Question: Can I refuse to show the premises to a prospective resident because he or she is obviously intoxicated? Answer: Yes, if you are concerned about your safety or just wasting your time, you can refuse to show the premises to an intoxicated applicant. However, make sure the person is really intoxicated and not just under a physical or mental disability. In order to enter in a binding agreement, the parties must not be temporarily incapacitated by intoxication.

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