TENANTS LEGAL CENTER
OF SAN DIEGO

NEW LAWS FOR 2003

  
 

 

 

 

 


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SOME HIGHLIGHTS OF THE FOLLOWING NEW LAWS FOR 2003
(This page will be updated from time to time with new information or analysis.) 

60 DAY NOTICE TO TERMINATE TENANCY

-Civil Code section1946.1  provides that in residential periodic tenancies (usually month to month) of at least one year,  landlords must serve a 60 day notice to terminate the tenancy.
-Tenants still need only give a notice to terminate their tenancy as long as the period of the tenancy (i.e. 30 days in a month to month,  7 days in a week to week tenancy etc.).  
EXCEPTIONS
1.  When the landlord is selling the unit to a person (i.e. not an entity), the notice is given within 120 days of opening an escrow, there have been no prior notices to quit (as per Civil Code 1946) and the buyer intends to live in the home for at least one year.  
2.  Tenants remaining in a dwelling after a foreclosure sale  
3.  Certain "Tenants at will"  may not be included within this law.
-This law is set to expire on December 31, 2005.

SECURITY DEPOSIT

Civil Code section 1950.5 now contains the following:
-Clarifies what charges are to be included as a deposit
-Redefines "ordinary wear and tear"
-Provides for an "initial inspection" prior to the move out to give the tenants a chance to clean or make appropriate repairs.
-Makes landlords responsible to notify tenants about their right to have that pre move-out inspection.
-The initial inspection must be conducted within two weeks of moving.
-The tenant must request that inspection or the landlord is not obligated to conduct one.
-The tenant need only return the unit to the same level of cleanliness it was in at the inception of the tenancy. (This new cleaning rule only applies to new tenancies beginning 1/1/03)
-The amount of the security deposit may be proved by any credible evidence.
-The new law changes the penalty for bad faith deposit handling from a maximum of $600 to a maximum of two times the deposit.

ENTRY BY LANDLORD

Civil Code section 1954 covers the right of entry by the landlord/agent 
-A landlord or agent must give reasonable notice of an intended entry.  They must actually deliver a written notice of entry to the tenant personally.  If that cannot be accomplished, the landlord may leave the notice with a responsible person at the unit or at the door to the unit itself where it may be easily seen.
-If notice by mail, 6 days notice must be given.
-Verbal notice may be given in the case of a sale as long as a special written notice of the sale was given within 120 days of the verbal notice.
-At the time of the entry, the landlord or agent entering must leave written evidence in the unit that an entry has occurred.

NEW HABITABILITY STANDARDS
WHICH NOW INCLUDE LEAD HAZARDS

As to habitability, Civil Code section 1941.1  now includes, by specific reference, a comprehensive list of defects which could render a building "substandard" and thus, uninhabitable   This list is found in Health and Safety Code  section 17920.3.
-Habitability defects will now specifically include a unit that "contains lead hazards."

RELIEF FROM FORFEITURE

Code of Civil Procedure section 1179 provides that a petition to be relieved from a judgment of forfeiture (as per C.C.P. 1174) may be made based on legal hardship.   All rent owed must be immediately paid and all proven lease violations must be cured.  Under certain conditions, a tenant  may make an oral petition for relief.   [Caution!! A tenant should not make any petition to a court without first getting legal advice.]   This procedure has not been available for month to month tenancies or for evictions based on the expiration of a lease.  The law now, however, specifically includes a "rental agreement, whether written or oral and whether or not the tenancy has terminated". 
IMPORTANT:
  Simply claiming hardship is not enough.  Also, purely economic hardship is not the kind of hardship covered by this law.  The landlord may defeat this petition by proving their own hardship caused by the tenant remaining there.  Losing this petition could cost the tenant additional attorneys fees and costs.  The time frame to make this petition has been significantly shortened. creating a real problem for many tenants.  It must now be made before the lockout which could occur in as little as 6 days after court!!  Therefore, this procedure remains a complex one requiring prompt and special preparation and a careful presentation.
 

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California law for San Diego is applied in these pages. This is not represented to be a full and complete list of all laws that may or may not affect tenants or occupants in properties  Such laws may or may not be applicable in other jurisdictions. The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice. Legal summaries are only the opinion of the Tenants Legal Center and are not intended nor should they be relied upon as any specific representation of any law.  For legal advice in a particular situation, promptly consult with an appropriate attorney.