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Rent Watch

Sublet Situation Didn't Work Out--But Friend Won't Budge

February 25, 2001|From Project Sentinel

Question: I rent a two-bedroom apartment. A few months ago, I began renting out a bedroom to a friend. We do not have a formal rental agreement and, since the arrangement has not worked out, I have asked her to move. She said that she has no place to go and is not going to move. What do I need to do to remove her since I am not the landlord of the apartment complex?

Answer: By renting out a room, you have assumed the role of a landlord and your friend, by paying rent, has become a tenant and established a tenancy. Even though you did not exchange a rental agreement, your tenant must be given proper notification if you want her to move. Your verbal request to move is not proper notification. You must give her with a written 30-day Notice of Termination of Tenancy.

You may also want to talk with her about the consequences of not vacating the unit on time. For instance, if she doesn't move and you decide to pursue legal action, her credit record and tenancy history could be affected. If she does not vacate by the end of the termination period, you can start the eviction process just as your landlord would do in a similar situation.

Additionally, if you sublet the room without your landlord's permission and your rental agreement states "no subletting," you may have jeopardized your own tenancy. If this is the case, it is in everyone's best interest to work out this problem outside of the court system.

For more information, contact your local housing agency.

Waiting for Return of Security Deposit

Q: I vacated my apartment one month ago and have not received my $1,000 security deposit back. The landlord has agreed to send me a full refund, but says I must wait two months. Do I have to wait this long?

A: Since you and the landlord have already agreed to a full refund, California Civil Code 1950.5 states: "Within three weeks after the tenant has vacated the premises, the landlord shall furnish the tenant, by personal delivery or by first-class mail, postage prepaid, a copy of an itemized statement indicating the basis for, and the amount of, any security received and the disposition of the security and shall return any remaining portion of the security to the tenant."

Two months exceeds state civil code. If your rental agreement states a lesser amount of time than 21 days, the landlord must honor the shorter time. If a landlord does not return either a full or partial refund or a request for money owed, the landlord may be subject to a penalty not to exceed $600 in a court of law such as small claims court.

Ready to Move Out, But Not This Quickly

Q: I just gave my landlord a 45-day notice to move. She said that 45 days was too long and that I had to vacate within 30 days of the date of my notice. Doesn't my landlord have to allow my 45-day notice or at least give me a written 30-day notice if she wants me to move sooner?

A: The notice time required to end a tenancy is based on the length of time between rent payments. If you pay your rent every 30 days, then your landlord is within her rights to deny your 45-day notice. However when doing so, if she wants you to move in less time, she must give you a written 30-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. Verbal 30-day notices are not enforceable.

If you need further assistance, please contact your local landlord-tenant agency.

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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.

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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

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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