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mylandlordisajerk

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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #1 
I am in California, I rented a 2 bedroom 2 bath home  on October 8,2011-it is a rear house , and the water meter is connected to the front house, that he also rents out.
I am on a month to month lease with 3 others (a couple and my son). Our lease was the front & back page of the whole lease, with whited out names and ours written in. The landlord stated he would go type up a new lease and bring it by for all of us to initial-he never did. our rent on the lease shows 1195 a month plus the 800 security we gave him.

He told us that any problems we have just call him & he will get them fixed. We didn't move in until about 5 days later once the electricity was turned on. We notified him right away that none of the overhead lights in the home worked and only a few of the outlets worked. He sent an electrician over about 5 days later after we made numerous calls to him, and the electrician said the breaker is broken and he can't find the problem. Never heard from the electrician again & to this day has never been fixed! We have hot water running from the bathtub-he will not send a plumber over to fix it-my gas bill is probably triple because of this, and the water bill I am sure is astronomical!

He has a renter in the garage on the property, a lady with 3 kids-there is no bathroom for them so they use ours(it is an old house with the 2nd bath actually enters from the outside of the house) I of course pay for the gas that heats the water they use, there is also someone living in the garage on the front house that I just found out comes to that restroom & uses the shower also.

The windows and doors have huge gaps & there is no working heater in the home. He has sent someone to fix it back in october-they said it was too old & needs to be replaced.
There is such a clog in the bathroom sink we can't use it, and the toilet is broken on the floor and leaks. Of course we didn't see any of this while just walking through the home & didn't know until we were moved in. We have asked him many times to fix these things & he said he didn't have the time or money to do all that. Well I have held the rent in November & told him when he sends someone to start fixing the problems I will happliy hand him what I owe him, or I told him I was calling code enforcment to come inspect the house.
The following day, he told us he wanted to just give back our rent & deposit because he wasn't fixing anything. I told him I had just moved from Nevada to there & have a son in school and I work close to the home & I can't just move out because he won't fix things like he is supposed to. He wouldn't accept my rent anymore, and said I have to get out.
He kept emailing me and telling me to hurry up & find somewhere to move etc. Then December 16th, he said I have until the 21st of December to get out or he would start eviction. I said I just wanted to pay him his money & have him fix things.
I did eventually have code enforcment come out here the 14th of december and they have given him 30 days to fix things, he stil as of today has not fixed one thing and the water continues to flow out of the bathtub.
We were served eviction notice on dec 23rd. There also shows that he gave me a 30 day termination on nov 12th, which to this day I have never received, and I was actually for a while trying to just move out & get my money back but could not find anything in my price range for the area.
He has also changed the date in his emails over & over for when I need to get out. If I really had gotten the 30 day it would have been December 12th. But on the 4th of december he emailed me & said I needed to be out the 8th then on the 16th he gave me a date of the 21st.
He has done so many things to make my move hell & I am going to court to fight him on thursday.
Will his changing the dates all the time & telling me in emails he can't fix anything help me out? I have emails stating that he has sent electricians and heating guys out to fix stuff & says it just can't be fixed so you need to leave. Isn't there a retaliation law in CA? I would think that my situation would fall under that law?

Help!

Thank you!



Marytmary1978

Registered:
Posts: 445
Reply with quote  #2 

You need to contact your local housing enforcement.  Many city's have their own, but some do not.  You might also look under attorneys -- some will take a case such as yours for a percentage of the fines.  I do not know all of the California laws, but know enough that if what you have presented is true, you landlord is in violation of many.

OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #3 
You have so many problems.  Where to start...

Make all repair requests to the LL in writing.  Not verbally!  You need to be able to prove later in court that you have requested repairs and that you gave the LL an appropriate amount of time to make repairs.  (And you have to do this BEFORE you withhold rent.)  If you just tell or phone in requests for repairs, it becomes a "he said, she said" issue in court.  You may or may not be believed.  So always make requests in writing, dated, and keep a copy. 

As for the listed issues, many of these just are the LL's responsibility.  The LL can correct forms by whiting out an error and writing over it.  You should initial all changes so it shows you approved these.  (ie:  Maybe a name was misspelled, a date was wrong, etc.)  The LL is responsible to provide adequate hot water, heat, and sanitary sewer for the approved number of tenants.  He has to keep fixtures and equipment in good working order.  You are probably responsible for stoppages after you move in (so check drains immediately).  He should be paying for any shared utilities or amenities.  So if everyone shares a water heater, he should be paying for that water and electric.  Fixing many of these issues isn't difficult.  Any electrician should be able to replace a broken breaker (even I can do that!), any plumber or handyman can replace a faucet - so these things don't seem out of the ordinary to an experienced LL.

Legal & other issues: 
  • It probably isn't legal in CA (or most other states) to rent out a converted garage with no bath.  But the penalties for this vary widely by state.  In some states, this could mean a tenant is entitled to a complete refund of all monies paid.  In others, it is a code or zoning violation and would merit a $50 fine (and the LL keeps all rent received).  Only your local code enforcement officer can tell you how severe this is in your area. 
  • A LL is responsible for any shared utilities, or at least for notifying the tenants of the shared utilities before lease signing and having tenants agree on a shared payments plan. 
  • Gaps in windows and doors may be legal - you should have been able to see those when you viewed the unit.  You may not have been able to know about shared utilities, other tenants who share a bath, etc.  But you could easily see these gaps so it may be ruled that you accepted these.  Weatherstrip them or put plastic over windows. 
  • Dates cannot be changed on notices.  But mupltiple notices can be given.  Nothing says a LL cannot give you a notice to move, then issue you a second (or 3rd) if you fail to move out.  Nothing says he has to immediately file to evict.  The new notice replaces the previous ones.  But all notices should be in writing, not verbal.  And the LL can take action on the latest notice.  So if you failed to move after the last one, he can then file to evict. 
  • The LL's failure to properly maintain the premises must be documented by written repair requests and code enforecements reports.  No documentation may mean no negligence for the undocumented problems.  Again, it becomes your word vs. the LLs in court.
  • Finally, rent withholding must be done through a court.  Failing to pay the court is akin to simply not paying at all (see below).

Rent withholding:  You can't just rent withhold by simply not paying him the rent.  In order to do rent withholding properly, you need to be able to prove that needed repairs are not being made (see the 1st paragraph!)  You need to be able to show that you gave the LL a proper amount of time to make repairs.  You should call code enforcement or the housing inspector to get this documented.  Then, MOST IMPORTANTLY, you continue to pay the rent on time, but to the clerk of court.  If you fail to pay the rent to the court, you can be evicted.  Rent withholding does not mean you hold the rent - it means the court does!  If you kept the rent yourself, it is the same as just not paying at all.  You can be evicted for non-payment of rent.  For rent withholding, you must pay rent to the clerk of court or into their appointed account at a specified location.

So, to sum up:  We all know this LL is doing things wrong.  But I can't fix that and I'm not worried about protecting that guy.  We are focused on advising and protecting you.  You have made a few mistakes.  You didn't put repair requests in writing, didn't rent withhold correctly, didn't move out when given notice to do so.  You stoped paying rent in November - 6 weeks before you got code enforcement involved and documented any problems.  Get yourself legal representation now!  Call legal aide or a pro bono attorney for tenants to help protect you in court.

mylandlordisajerk

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #4 
I appreciate the replies, he has emailed me that he just simply can't fix the problems after sending a heating specialist and electician and he would just like us to move. He would not accept rent from me. He just said we need to get out. I just don't see how he can just decide not to fix anything & kick us out instead, when there is a retailiation law in CA. Stating that if we have been asked to move because we exercised our right to have him fix things such as heat & electricity.
mylandlordisajerk

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #5 
oops sorry didn't mean to hit enter yet..
but that he can't just kick us out because of things not working & he doesn't want to fix them. I have in writing asked him to fix things, and I have had code enforcement come in already & they have sent him a 30 day notice to fix everything.
I go to court tomorrow so we will see..I really just want away from this problem!
OHlandlord

Registered:
Posts: 3,809
Reply with quote  #6 
He's giving you an out.  Simply take your deposit and move.  You won't get him to fix anything, even if the court orders him to.  He doesn't have the money.  What can you gain here?  Staying in the place with the problems it has?  The court isn't going to fix it.  All it will do is to eventually rule that the place is uninhabitable and then you'll still be forced to move.  I can't see another outcome.  He just isn't going to fix it, the court will mark the place with a red tag, and you'll still end up moving.  Even if you won an award for the retaliation, he doesn't have money to pay it.  The city will just stop him from renting it again until it goes into foreclosure.
Marytmary1978

Registered:
Posts: 445
Reply with quote  #7 

I agree with OHlandord.  Cut your losses and move on.  Sometimes as landlords we have to do that ( actually way too often) with tenants.  We get bad tenants that just can not pay, destroy the property, disturb other tenants etc. and we need to just get them out and move on.  Unfortunately, it sounds like you have a crummy landlord-- just move on to a better place.

 

Keep your documentation to make sure that you get your deposit back etc.

 

Good luck to you

mylandlordisajerk

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #8 
Thank you for all your replies-
He sent a plumber over to fix all the plumbing the day before court-that was all we asked him to fix in the first place & then we told him we would work with him on the next things to fix! What an idiot!

I won in court by the way-he was the one suing me not me him.
He now has a court order to give me 2600 dollars for rent paid, deposit & moving expenses. He has until the 9th to get me the money or I dont have to move out.
He has the money-his IRA owns the house not him. He lives in a beautiful house on the ocean in Dana Point-I am not too worried about the old bastard. he just bought this place with 2 dwellings on it from someone else in forclosure.
But thank you all for your replies-I of course am now looking for something better & feel vindicated for him just deciding not to fix anything until the last minute!

PatseChi

Registered:
Posts: 79
Reply with quote  #9 

good luck on attempting to find another rental


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Patse
mylandlordisajerk

Registered:
Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #10 
thank you I already have found a new place to live & he actually gave me the check very fast!
Amador

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #11 
I've been dealing with bed bugs for over a year now, it took the owner 7 months of me and two complaint thru the city until they send a pest control to do a treatment. It's been 3 months and I'm still dealing with bed bugs. I talked to the owner several times and won't fix the problem. I have been living here for 8years and out of those years they haven't fixed other of my problems in the apartment.I have toddlers and a baby in the apartment a nf it's sad to wake up and see my kids bitself and myself . What can I do? 
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Nadia amador
jadethorn

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Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #12 
I'm glad all is well with you now!

 

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domestic plumber sydney
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