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For tenant's peace of mind, an extra deadbolt may be worth it

September 23, 2007|From Project Sentinel

Question: I own a single-family rental house. The tenant wants me to install a deadbolt lock on the door between the garage and the kitchen for additional safety. I have already put deadbolts on all the entrance doors. Must I put one here too?

Answer: According to California Civil Code Section 1941.3(1), landlords are required to provide deadbolt locks on main swinging entry doors, except for sliding doors. In your case, the operative word is "entry."

If the garage is not enclosed, the door between the garage and the kitchen would be considered an entry door and would require a deadbolt.

If the garage is enclosed and has its own outside swinging entry door and deadbolt lock, there is no requirement for the garage/kitchen door to be equipped with a deadbolt.

However, looking at the bigger picture, you may want to install the additional deadbolt yourself or give your tenant permission to install it.

He wants out; landlady says no

Question: I rent a room in a private home and need to move in two weeks. The landlady says I can't leave until she has received my 30-day notice. I've paid rent for this month and don't want any of it returned. Can she keep me from moving?

Answer: No, you can move any time you wish, but there may be financial consequences if the owner wants, but doesn't get, advance notice from you. Such a notice (by either party) is required unless the receiving party agrees to waive this requirement.

For month-to-month tenants, California Civil Code Section 1946 states that the time required for advance notice is governed by the amount of time between rent payments. For example, if you pay rent weekly, you must give (or get) at least seven days' notice to move; if you pay rent monthly, you must give (or get) at least 30 days' notice.

Since your landlady wants advance notice, she could charge you for rent beyond your early move-out date. To minimize charges, give the owner a written move-out notice immediately. Once this is done, you are not responsible for rent beyond the notice's 30 days -- or fewer, if the unit is re-rented before 30 days.

Manager makes film, charges fee

Question: When I got my security deposit back, I was surprised to find I had been charged $200 for not attending the final move-out inspection with the manager. According to the statement, the charge was for the landlord taking still pictures and a video of the unit since I was not present. Is this valid?

Answer: Security deposits fall under California Civil Code Section 1950.5. This includes the right of a tenant to participate in a pre-departure inspection with the landlord. It also allows the tenant to decline to participate. There is no legal requirement for a follow-up inspection after the tenant vacates, although it is good practice to do so.

Since there is no requirement for you to participate in a move-out inspection, and since Section 1950.5 does not authorize the landlord to charge a fee for an inspection, the $200 charge is improper and unenforceable.

Mediation or a Small Claims Court action are possibilities to dispute the charge, unless you can convince the landlord that this fee was improper.

Renters should participate in joint walk-through inspections at the beginning and end of a tenancy, as a method to document the condition of the unit and to avoid later disagreements about the condition. For the same reason, both sides should take photographs at the time of the joint inspection to help avoid disputes later.


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, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Southern California Housing Rights Center at (800) 477-5977.

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