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Can I evict my tenant?

If you are a landlord in California, chances are that you have had a situation where the tenant residing at your property has been less than ideal. Fortunately, eviction proceedings are a possibility under certain circumstances.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, if the tenancy is month-to-month, you can give a 30 or 60 days’ notice that the property is to be vacated. This can usually be done without any explanation necessary. However, there are a few localities where an explanation for termination must be given to the tenant. These might include rent control cities or subsidized housing programs. Evictions cannot be served in cases of retaliation or discrimination.

What Should I Know About Eviction in California?

If you rent a home or apartment in California, being fully aware of your rights and responsibilities is extremely important. This is especially true when it comes to eviction. Landlords do have the right to evict tenants under certain circumstances, as explained by the California Department of Consumer Affairs.

No matter the situation, landlords must give tenants notice before evicting tenants. However, the amount of notice can vary depending on the exact situation at hand. In general cases, landlords must provide 30 or 60 days’ notice to tenants they wish to evict. Additionally, landlords are not obligated to provide a reason when giving this much notice. All that’s required is that the notice is provided in written form, unless a special situation applies (such as residence in a rent-controlled dwelling).

Rent control and California's Costa Hawkins law

As rents in Santa Clara County continue to surge, some tenants are facing harsh economic realities. With the median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in San Jose hovering at $2,550--nearly $1,000 more than the national average--lower- and middle-class residents are feeling the squeeze of Silicon Valley's housing demands.

Northern California is not alone in this--cities all over the state are experiencing skyrocketing rents, and some are advocating for a reformation on consumer protections. Specifically, California's Costa Hawkins law, which restricts how some cities can implement rent control policies, has come under fire with calls for repeal. But what is it about this law that has landed it square in the middle of the public debate on housing?

Claiming tax deductions on co-owned properties

Owning a property offers several benefits to Santa Cruz residents, including certain tax advantages. Chief among these advantages is the opportunity to claim deductions related to the expenses of ownership. Deductions do tend to get slightly more complicated, however, when a property is co-owned. Thus, prior to purchasing a property with another party (that is someone other than one's spouse), one should sit down with all of those who will have a stake in it to research the tax considerations related to ownership. 

One of most common ownership deductions is that of interest paid on a mortgage. Federal regulations do allow one to deduct mortgage interest paid on real estate for which he or she is the legal or equitable owner. According to The Tax Advisor, establishing equitable ownership requires that one show that he or she: 

  • Can legally possess the property and enjoy the benefits of any rents or profits it produces
  • Is obliged to maintain the property 
  • Is obliged to insure the property 
  • Is obliged to pay taxes and assessments for the property 
  • Shares the risk of losses incurred from the property 

When a leaky roof turns into a legal landlord battle

Renting a home in California can come with endless perks: no expensive monthly mortgages and coverage of maintenance repairs are only a few to start. By the same token, those renting a home under an inattentive or inaccessible landlord can face a mountain of issues. With the pros and cons that can come with renting any property, there are some common red flags tenants can watch out for. 

Perhaps one of the most frustrating problems tenants can have with landlords involves failure to address issues on the property. As Money Magazine relates, timeliness can be crucial when it comes to, for example, repairing a leaky faucet or addressing a heating malfunction; inaccessible landlords can only prolong that wait. Money suggests that tenants dealing with this issue should place all requests and complaints in writing -- doing so can ensure that a landlord is held accountable and remains proactive. Tenants may also want to check the fine print of leases to ensure the proper way of submitting written requests, as texts or emails may not constitute as official forms of communication. Should a landlord fail to respond to a written request, tenants may choose to alert state or local health and building inspectors, ending the lease on terms of a breach of lease or even suing the landlord in a small claims court. 

The pesky problem of real estate fraud

For most California house hunters, buying or selling a home typically creates joy, not headaches. Unfortunately, however, some consumers find themselves in situations where realtors, contractors and other professionals have not carried out honest practices. What constitutes as real estate fraud, and can consumers in the housing market take proactive steps to avoid it?

Whether the problem lies in the hands of the mortgage broker, realtor, loan officer or other real estate professional, addressing problems and finding adequate solutions can become quite the hassle. The website for The Counselors of Real Estate offers industry professionals and consumers a list of common real estate issues, first blaming the often oscillating nature of the global economy. Housing affordability is another common culprit, as tight credit requirements keep many from buying permanent homes. High rent in many cities places some households in a financial bind, unable to take the big step of paying monthly mortgages.

Evicting tenants the legal way

Most landlords have heard the typical horror stories about tenants: loud noises late at night, unruly animals and failure to pay rent on time are just a few of the hassles that can occur during a lease. These are never lighthearted matters to deal with, but exactly what constitutes as legal grounds to evict a tenant in California? 

Some tenants may put up a good fight to remain in a home, but there are valid and legal reasons for eviction. According to rental resource Landlordology, the following are grounds for eviction: lease violation, failure to pay rent, property damage, expiration of lease and illegal activity. When it comes to the greyer areas, Landlordology stresses that landlords must have a valid reason that will uphold in court. For example, one would need to outline the area of the lease that the tenant did not follow; unauthorized pets and unapproved subletting are some common violations. If a tenant is guilty of drug activity, landlords in California are not required to give notice of an eviction. Of course, there are those who refuse to leave after a lease has ended, and Landlordology confirms that this is another legal reason to take matters to court.

Eviction may take court action

Tenant eviction seems like a simple matter of contract law. The lease is up or the terms of the lease were violated and eviction proceeds naturally. But it is not that simple for a number of reasons.

Tenants have rights under California law, and cannot be evicted without a legal proceeding. It’s called an “unlawful detainer” and it is a specific kind of action required in order to remove a tenant. The process can be complicated and it does have to be followed precisely in order to have an eviction take place. If the tenant chooses to fight, it may end up in court.

Can I break my lease due to an assault?

Imagine the terror of a woman, man or elder who is being stalked or who has been assaulted in California and fears for her life because the perpetrator knows where she lives. If it were you, you would likely be on edge all the time, anxious and worrying about it happening again. It is just these circumstances that a state housing law addresses in an effort to make it easier for victims to relocate to a place where they feel safe.

According to the Legal Aid Association of California, victims of stalking, sexual abuse or domestic violence and their families can legally break a lease before it expires. Also covered in the housing law are victims of elder abuse and human trafficking. This applies to all tenants of the same household where a victim lives. It does not guarantee that your landlord may not evict you for other reasons, however.

Excessive heat, restrictive policies prompt tenant lawsuit

When considering the landlord/tenant relationship, many in Santa Cruz may only associate it with residential dwellings. Yet it should be remembered that many of the businesses that people frequent every day are in fact tenants renting commercial space. Just as residential landlords are responsible for ensuring that their units remain habitable, so too must a commercial landlord do all that is needed to provide a good working environment for its tenants. A failure in this regard affects its tenants' bottom line, as clients, patrons and even employees may find frequenting such establishments unbearable. 

The proprietor of a recently reopened cocktail bar in New York's famed Grand Central Station is claiming in a lawsuit that a failure to act by the local transit authority (which owns the space) has created such conditions in his establishment. He is claiming the malfunctioning air conditioning system has allowed temperatures to become so high as to be harmful to his business. Also mentioned in his lawsuit are the struggles he's had in getting the transit authority to approve new signage, as well as the difficulty he has had in affording the fire marshals that the transit authority requires be present for private events. His issues are not news to the space's previous tenant (also a cocktail bar owner), who claims he also had problems with the transit authority's policies. 


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