Tenants rights, renters rights, and other occupant's rights are powerful but may be
easily lost by improper action. Merely because a law
is on the books, does not mean that a tenant gets the automatic
benefit of that law without any effort or action taken.
Rights unprotected may be easily lost.
PROTECT YOUR RENTERS RIGHTS!
How do tenants find ways to get protection? Research, information, education and obtaining specific legal advice and assistance. There are many information resources and research sites on the Internet providing a wealth of free information. (e.g. Useful links
Legal Research). Government agencies publish helpful materials for the public use at little or no cost.
PAY THE RENT
One obvious way to avoid eviction is to timely pay the rent. While this seems too obvious, the reality is that simple miscommunication about paying the rent results in many avoidable eviction cases. If you must pay late, let the landlord know in advance and obtain permission for the late payment. Many landlords will assume the lack of a timely payment means that the tenant will not pay at all. While this may be over reacting in some cases, it is accurate in others. Many landlords will, however, work with the tenant on late payments if advance notice is given and permission or arrangements are sought. (Of course, it is best to confirm such late payment agreements in writing.) Remember, unless there is some legal defense to the Notice to Pay Rent or unless the home is substantially defective, non-payment of rent is a pretty good ground to evict a tenant.
When complaining or requesting landlord action (i.e. repairs), the wisest method is to document the communication. This means, write it down! Write a polite letter noting the points to cover. If the police were involved and the situation was in your favor, get a copy of the police report. Such documentation goes a long way in making a landlord think twice before attempting an eviction.
RESOLVE NEIGHBOR DISPUTES
Landlords do not want to get in the middle of neighbor disputes. If possible, resolve these among yourselves peacefully and quietly before getting the landlord involved. Many times landlords resolve them by evicting all the tenants involved in the dispute.
GET PERMISSION FOR NEW ROOMMATES
Many times tenants need to rent out a room to help pay the rent. Most landlords understand and will work with you on this. They get rather unhappy when they discover a new roommate who moved in without checking with the landlord. Some landlords react harshly to this and will commence an eviction because of the unauthorized new resident.
GET PERMISSION FOR INTERNET SUBLEASING
Many tenants would like to take
advantage of extra income opportunities by subleasing to other
tenants using online rental sharing sites like
airbnb. Be aware that
most leases and some local laws prohibit this activity.
Subleasing in violation of the lease or local laws provide
grounds for an eviction.
GET PERMISSION FOR ALTERATIONS
Tenants often wish to improve their living condition by making changes in the dwelling such as painting custom colors or adding cabinets etc.. This may be a real problem if the landlord discovers the alteration and does not approve of it. You may not only face an eviction, but you could be held responsible for any costs to change the unit back to the way it was.
OFFER TO PAY FOR REPAIRS
If you broke something by use beyond ordinary wear and tear, offer to fix it or pay for the repair.
KEEP THE UNIT CLEAN AND PRESENTABLE
Landlords do not like to see their property abused or in a dirty condition. Avoid allowing the yard, balcony or patio area to look messy and neglected.
DO NOT THREATEN THE LANDLORD WITH COURTS AND LAWYERS
Be careful before you start trying to intimidate the landlord with such things as "I will see you in court" or "You will hear from my lawyer." These tactics rarely work and many times just serve to make things worse. If you need to go to court, let your attorney handle the matter including any communications with the landlord
Despite your efforts to avoid an
eviction, if one is filed against you...
If an eviction is filed against you, respond and defend your rights!! The failure to effectively act to protect your rights in an eviction case will mean an automatic judgment
may be entered against you (i.e. you are guilty of unlawful conduct and you lose the case).
Defending a court eviction case on your own without experienced attorney representation is definitely NOT recommended. Statistically, in San Diego, almost all of the tenants who represent themselves in attempting to fight these cases will lose or agree to a bad settlement regardless of their rights. With good Attorney assistance, tenants will usually come out of the case without a lasting judgment against them or bad credit (even if they feel "guilty" in the case).
Good settlements may actually be better than winning in court! As strange as it may sound, sometimes "winning" at court can actually work against you and is not winning at all. At The Tenants Legal Center, we know when it is better to go to trial or to settle the case in the best interests of our clients.
Good settlements are very valuable. Many times a good "win win" resolution will give you much more than a court can. We are proud to state that we either negotiate a favorable settlement or win most all of our eviction cases.
Military Service Members have special protections afforded by the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act which includes protections regarding Leases and Evictions
USE ONLY THE OFFICIAL LEGAL AID OFFICE IN YOUR AREA
Tenants who qualify for free assistance may call LEGAL AID. If their case is accepted, they should receive competent legal representation at little or no cost. HOWEVER, TENANTS BEWARE that there are people who list themselves in the phone book as "Legal Aid" when they are not affiliated at all with the non-profit public Legal Aid Society office you are looking for. They are not attorneys and they charge high prices (which they want you to blindly deposit in their bank) for untrained unlicensed persons to fill out important forms via facsimile without regard to protecting your rights. They do not even meet with you to review anything about your case If you qualify, be sure to only seek help from the appropriate official non-profit public Legal Aid office.
It is a violation of California Law (Business and Profession Code 6159.52) to advertise in a deceptive manner using the term "Legal Aid"
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California law for San Diego is applied in these pages. 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. For legal advice in a particular situation, promptly consult with an appropriate attorney.