Legal Questions November 2012 Part 2

8. Question: I served a three-day notice to pay rent or quit to one of our tenants. I received a
partial payment within the three-day period. Do I have to serve another notice for the remainder
of the rent or is the notice still good?

Answer: Under California law, a residential landlord who accepts partial payment of rent
demanded on a three-day notice is required to serve a new notice for the balance owed.

9. Question: How do we get rid of tenants who have filthy units? They always pay on time.

Answer: If the condition of a residential tenant’s apartment unit is creating a health or fire
hazard, the landlord should take steps to require the hazard be removed, or if necessary,
terminate the tenancy and evict. If the condition does not amount to a health or fire hazard, you
may elect to serve a thirty-day notice to terminate a month-to-month tenancy, or if the lease is a
fixed term, do not renew. If the tenant could have a disability called “hoarding,” you should seek
legal advice before proceeding.

10. Question: One of our tenants informed me that residential landlords have to replace
carpeting every five years. Is this true?

Answer: No. California does not have specific requirements for replacing carpets or any
condition of the unit so long as it remains in a habitable condition, which means free from
substantial health or safety hazards.

11. Question: How long should we retain old leases at our apartment complex? I have heard
two years, is this correct?

Answer: The statute of limitations (the time one has to bring a lawsuit) for written leases is four
years. Therefore, leases should be retained a minimum of four years from the date of the
vacancy.

12. Question: One of our tenants is buying a home and gave us a thirty-day notice. Now they
want to extend escrow fifteen more days beyond the thirty-day period. They are willing to pay
for the additional rent. Should we require a new thirty-day notice from the tenants?

Answer: If you are in agreement to the additional fifteen days, agree in writing to extend the
thirty-day notice period to expire on midnight on the agreed extension. Otherwise, the court
may believe that you waived your right under the thirty-day notice by allowing the tenant to
remain in possession and paying rent beyond the thirty-day notice period.

13. Question: We just recently purchased a property with below market rents and intend on
raising rents. Which is preferable: to send out a thirty-day notice to raise the rent first, or to
have the residents sign a month-to-month agreement, then sent out a thirty-day notice?

Answer: Legally, when you purchase rental property, you “step into the shoes” of the previous
owner and you are bound by whatever lease agreement is in place. If it is month-to-month, you
can serve a thirty-day notice to change the terms, including rent increase. If the rent is
increased more than 10% from what it was one year ago, a sixty-day notice must be served.

14. Question: I have rented an apartment to an unmarried couple. The boyfriend’s mom is the
co-signor. The boyfriend is moving out and wants his and his mom’s name taken off the lease.
I don’t care if the boyfriend leaves, but I think his mom is still responsible. Am I right?

Answer: Most co-signor agreements, also known as guarantee contracts, provide that the
guarantee of performance is through the term of the lease. If so, the mom would most likely
remain responsible, even if her son moves out.

This article is for general information purposes only. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice.
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.

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