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RENT WATCH

A Landlord Gets Nervous About Extending Tenant's Stay

May 14, 2000|From Project Sentinel

Question: The 30-day notice I gave to my landlord expires on the 6th of next month, but I'm not able to move until the 28th. My landlord is willing to let me stay the extra 22 days but will not allow me to pay him the additional 22 days of rent. He says the extra rent will be deducted from my security deposit because if he accepts rent beyond the 28th, my 30-day notice will be invalid and that I would be able, if I wished, to stay longer or not move at all. Is he correct?

Answer: Possibly. By accepting rent beyond the expiration date of a 30-day notice to move given by either an owner or tenant, a property owner does run the risk of a tenant not moving and thereby affecting not only maintenance and repair personnel, but also incoming tenants. That is because it is inconsistent to terminate a tenancy at a specific date but then accept rent for a period beyond that termination date. Perhaps in your case, your plans are definitely to vacate the property, but this may not be the case for others.

However, if possible, it is common for a landlord to accommodate tenants by allowing them to stay beyond the period of a notice as well as pay for that additional time. If this is to occur, it is a good idea that both parties put the agreement in writing so there is no misunderstanding (for example, "The notice is extended only, not canceled."). If you need assistance, contact your local housing program.

Civil Code Outlines Security Deposit Return

Q: When I moved, I didn't want to give my landlord my new address. I asked her to send my refund to the old address I was vacating. It's now been two months since I moved, and when I contacted her about the refund, she said she had taped the itemized statement and my refund to the door. Since I had already moved away and never returned after turning in the keys, I didn't receive the refund. She was willing to reissue the refund check, but I think she didn't follow the rule about how to return a deposit. Am I correct?

A: Yes, taping an itemized statement and the refund check to the door was not proper. California Civil Code Section 1950.5(e) states that "the landlord shall furnish the tenant, by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of an itemized statement."

Since you have received your refund now, this does settle the issue for you personally. However, if you want to be helpful to her and future tenants, you may want to inform her of how to correctly deliver an itemized statement and deposit refund.

Be Specific About Repair Arrangements

Q: This is a very simple question, but it comes up a lot for me and my tenant. I own a rental that is old and needs quite a bit of maintenance. I would like to arrange the repair schedule myself, but my tenant says she wants to make the appointments so she knows who is entering her home. She wants me to give her a list of the repair companies I use.

Do you have any suggestions about making this arrangement with my tenant?

A: If you agree that this arrangement will work, it is important for you to sit down with your tenant to create a set of guidelines on how repairs are to be handled. These guidelines should contain a list of which repairs she can arrange herself. This list should be very specific. For example, a leaky faucet is OK, replacing the garbage disposal is not, or hiring a gardener is not, but having the property sprayed for ants is OK.

These guidelines should also contain a maximum dollar amount for each repair she is authorized to schedule. Any repair over that amount should require your involvement and approval. Since this will require her to get estimates before scheduling the service call, she may change her mind about wanting to be so involved with repairs. Contact your local housing program. They have a lot of experience in helping landlords and tenants create agreements concerning housing matters.

Monthly Rental Bill May Not Be Necessary

Q: For years I have been giving my tenants a monthly statement that details their monthly rent. I am getting tired of doing this extra paperwork and want to know if I can stop sending monthly statements.

A: Good news. If there is no requirement for the monthly statement in your rental agreement, you can stop the practice of sending them. If it makes you more comfortable, or if your rental agreements require a monthly statement, you can send each tenant a 30-Day Notice of Change of Terms of Tenancy that states that the monthly rent statement will be eliminated.

A Change of Terms notice is always used when there is a change, such as due date for rent, to the terms of a tenancy. If you have questions, contact your local housing program for assistance.

This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually.

For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Institute or Fair Housing Foundation office in your area:

Bellflower: (562) 901-0808.

Carson: (888) 777-4087.

El Monte: (626) 579-6868.

Hawthorne: (310) 474-1667.

Lancaster: (888) 777-4087

Long Beach: (562) 901-0808

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211.

Redondo Beach: (888) 777-4087

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185.

South-Central Los Angeles: (213) 295-3302.

Westside Los Angeles: (310) 474-1667.

Orange County: (714) 569-0828.

San Bernardino County: (909) 884-8056.

San Diego County: (619) 699-5888.

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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