KTS Q & A

Kimball,Tirey & St.John LLP

Questions & Answers

Ted Kimball, Esq.
March, 2012

1. Question:
What is the procedure when a death occurs in an apartment?

Answer:

When the tenant dies, the lease is terminated if month-to-month, otherwise the estate of the
deceased is liable for rent up to the date the lease expires or the premises are relet.

2. Question:
We have a rental property that has a house and a studio in the back, separate from the house.
The phone works in the house; however, the phone is not working in the studio. Both the house
and the studio are rented by the same family. As I understand it, the owner must provide one
working phone jack. Is that per house or per property?

Answer:

Residential landlords are required to install at least one usable telephone jack and inside wiring
for any building intended for the residential occupation of human beings.

3. Question:
I recently purchased a triplex, and the escrow will be closing in a couple of days. The tenants
are currently on a month-to-month rental agreement. Do I have to wait until the end of the
month or can I serve a 30-day notice as soon as I take possession of the property?

Answer:

You can serve a 30-day notice at any time in a month-to-month tenancy. You do not need to
wait until the end of the month. You are also entitled to rent for the 30-day time period. If all of
the tenants in the unit have been a resident for more than one year, a 60-day notice is required
to be served.

4. Question:
I rented to a couple who were constantly late in their rent payments. I went over to collect the
rent and it looks like they have moved out. There are still some personal items here and there.
What should I do?

Answer:

If you are sure they have vacated the premises, you can take over possession and store the
personal items in a reasonably safe place for 18 days after you send a notice of abandonment
of personal property to their last known address. If they do not claim the property in that time
period, and it is less than $300.00 in value, you can dispose of it any way you see fit. If it is
more than $300.00 in value, you must sell it through a public sale and give the profits to the
county.

5. Question:
I have heard five different answers from five different people. Please, tell me what I can legally
deduct from my tenant’s security deposit.

Answer:

Rights and obligations regarding a residential tenants’ security deposit are governed by

California Civil Code Section 1950.5. It is clear that you can use the deposit for cleaning,
delinquent rent and damages above ordinary wear and tear. What is considered ordinary “wear
and tear” is subject to a variety of opinions by judges. In order to convince a court that the
damages were extraordinary, check-in and check-out records of the condition of the apartment,
pictures, receipts and opinions from those who did the work make the job of determining
ordinary wear and tear easier for the court to decide.

6. Question:
I have filed an eviction against one of my residents for failing to pay rent for the last two months.
I served the notice on a Saturday and someone said I had to serve it on a business day. Are
they right?

Answer:

No. A 3-day notice for breach of the lease can be served on any day. The tenant has three full
days to comply, but the last day of the notice must end on a business day.

7. Question:
I am a manager of a 56-unit complex. One of the tenants informed me that his girlfriend moved
in. I gave him an application and told him to have her fill it out and then return it to me. It has
been ten days and I have not gotten it back.

Answer:

If the lease prohibits the assigning or subletting of the premises without your permission, you
can serve a 3-day notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit, detailing the violation.
The notice should require that they either turn in the application or she must vacate the property
within the 3-day period. If they do not comply with the notice, you could commence eviction
procedures.

8. Question:
I served one of my tenants with a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. He did not comply so I served
a 30-day notice to quit. If the tenant does not move out by the 30th day, should I call the sheriff
to evict him?

Answer:

The sheriff will not evict your resident unless you have gone through the unlawful detainer
lawsuit and produced a judgment for possession. You could have filed the unlawful detainer
action after the 3-day notice expired; you did not need to give the tenant an additional 30 days.

9. Question:
I recently received an application from a young married couple. He is twenty but she is only
seventeen. I told her she was too young to sign the rental agreement and he had to qualify on
his own even though she was working. She said because she was married, she was qualified
to sign. I never heard of this law. Is she right?

Answer:

California recognizes an individual’s right to enter into binding contracts if they are eighteen
years of age or older, in active duty in the military, married, or are emancipated by order of the
court. You therefore should treat her the same way as you would any other adult applicant.

10. Question:
A young couple recently applied for one of our vacant units. They have jobs but do not quite
qualify for the unit (they need to make three times the amount of the rent). They said that his

Ted Kimball is a partner with Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP. The law firm specializes in landlord/tenant,
collections, fair housing and business and real estate, with offices throughout California. Property
owner’s and manager’s with questions regarding the contents of this article, please call 800.338.6039.

© 2012 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP

father would be willing to co-sign as a guarantor in order to qualify. How should I work this
arrangement on the lease?

Answer:

Guarantor agreements are separate and distinct from the lease and may be rendered void if the
lease is modified without the knowledge or consent of the co-signor or guarantor. Carefully
drafted guarantee agreements can eliminate this risk.

Ted Kimball is a partner with Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP. The law firm specializes in landlord/tenant,
collections, fair housing and business and real estate, with offices throughout California. Property
owner’s and manager’s with questions regarding the contents of this article, please call 800.338.6039.

© 2012 Kimball, Tirey and St. John LLP

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