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Rent Watch

Landlord Can Prorate Rent After a Mid-Month Move-In

June 16, 2002|From Project Sentinel

Question: I moved into my apartment in the middle of last month. At that time, I paid a full month's rent. The manager just handed me a three-day notice to pay the "prorated" rent for this month. I don't understand why I owe rent when I've paid until the middle of this month.

Answer: When a tenant moves into a rental other than on the first day of a month, there are several ways payment of rent can be handled.

One way is for a tenant to pay a daily rate for the number of days remaining in the move-in month and then have the full rent due on the first of the next month. To determine the daily rate, divide the monthly rent by 30, and multiple this amount by the number of days left in the month.

Another way is the method your manager used. That is, you pay 30 days of rent at move-in time and then pay the prorated rent for the number of days remaining in the second month. If your rental agreement says the rent is due on the first of each month, then the balance of rent due for the second month is due on the first day of the second month. After this time, full rent will be due on the first of each subsequent month.

In your case, the three-day notice is valid. You need to pay the past-due rent within these three days to avoid placing yourself at risk of a court eviction.

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Negotiate Moving Date When Escrow Is Involved

Q: My husband and I are excited about moving to the house we bought. Because we are not sure when escrow will close, we don't know when to give the landlord our 30-day notice. Any suggestions on how to end our month-to-month tenancy?

A: We suggest you discuss the matter with the rental property owner. You might offer a 30-day notice with an option to extend if your escrow is delayed. Or, you may offer a 40- or 45-day notice, again with an understanding that if you can move earlier, or need to stay longer, there could be a refund of unused rent or an agreement to continue paying rent on a daily basis.

If the property owner doesn't agree, you can wait until you have a better idea of when escrow will close, and then submit your 30-day notice. In this case, even if you move before the 30 days expire, your obligation for rent will end when your 30-day notice expires or when the unit is re-rented.

If the unit is not re-rented before your 30-day notice ends, you may have to plan on paying rent for the days you don't occupy the rental as well as your first mortgage payment.

To avoid any misunderstanding later, be sure to put all agreements with your landlord in writing.

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Owner Isn't Obligated to Have Joint Inspection

Q: My former tenant received his deposit settlement, but says I can't deduct money from his deposit because I didn't do a formal inspection when he moved out. He says the law requires me to perform a joint inspection with tenants on their move-out day. Is this true?

A: There is no California law that requires a property owner or their agent to complete a formal move-out inspection when a tenant vacates a property.

Having said this, it is strongly recommended that an owner or agent perform move-out inspections with the departing tenants. These inspections help avoid disagreements about the condition of the property and what charges, if any, will be deducted from the deposit.

These inspections also give tenants a chance to do any cleaning or repairs to help reduce the amount that might be deducted from their deposit. Before making repairs, a tenant should get permission, preferably in writing, from the property owner or agent.

An additional benefit of a joint inspection is the avoidance of legal action. The time and aggravation of court is certainly greater than meeting for a short time with your tenant to complete an inspection.

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

San Diego County: (619) 699-5888

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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