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San Jose California Real Estate Law Blog

Back rent and eviction

When it comes to back rent, there are all sorts of different issues to take into consideration. For example, tenants may find themselves in an uncertain position when they are being evicted over failing to pay rent, while landlords may be unsure of whether or not they should move forward with an eviction because their tenant is not fulfilling their obligations. Tenants might be unable to pay their rent for many different reasons, from irresponsibility to unfortunate challenges that have arisen unexpectedly. However, when a tenant fails to pay the rent they owe, a landlord may have no choice but to move forward with an eviction.

As a landlord, it is important to clearly understand what your rights and responsibilities are. Eviction can be an incredibly stressful process for some landlords, but a sense of peace may be within reach when one gains confidence knowing that they are abiding by the law. Likewise, a tenant who is unable to pay rent may wonder if they are being evicted unlawfully, in which case it may be very helpful to review the ins and outs of the law.

Is co-signing and co-owning the same thing?

It is common for people to get a co-signer on a loan when making a large purchase. Whether you are buying a home in California or getting something less expensive, such as a car, if your credit is not where the lender wants it to be, you will probably need a co-signer. On the other hand, sometimes, especially with property, you may choose to have a co-owner. There are some differences between a co-signer and a co-owner that are important to understand.

A co-signer, according to Zacks, is someone who signs on your loan to take some of the burden. If you fail to pay your payments, this person says that he or she will pay the payments and ensure the loan is paid back to the lender. This person does not own the property that is securing the loan and has no interest in it. He or she is simply signing on the loan. This is done often when you do not have good enough credit or you have some credit issue that would not allow you to qualify for the loan by yourself.

Evicting a tenant over drug activity

We have covered some of the common reasons for eviction on our blog, but in this post we will take a closer look at evicting a tenant due to drug-related activity. There are many different examples of unlawful drug activity that tenants may carry out and some landlords have no choice but to move forward with an eviction. If you have proof that your tenant is violating the law and want to have them removed from the premises, it is pivotal to approach the eviction carefully and in a timely manner.

There are all sorts of examples of illegal drug activity involving tenants, from drug possession to distribution and even manufacturing. As a landlord, these violations can be very problematic for a number of reasons. Not only can this activity attract further problems such as violence but it may also result in property damage and other concerns. When someone is selling drugs from a rental home, for example, they may be attracting potentially dangerous people to the premises on a daily basis.

Warning signs: Protect yourself from real estate fraud

When looking for a California dream house, it pays seekers to be careful about whom they do business with. Scammers love to take advantage of homeowners, and real estate fraud is just one way they like to do that. 

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, in 2018, law enforcement authorities picked up five alleged scammers on indictments that say they "defrauded distressed homeowners, many of whom were elderly victims." The incidents happened in San Fernando Valley, where authorities claim the defendants convinced homeowners to sign bogus titles to their property, and in doing so, put over $17 million in the alleged scammers' pockets. 

Understanding the lease process

Whether a client is looking over a lease in an effort to rent a space from a tenant, or the owner of a space is drafting a lease for a new renter, it is important that the lease accurately portrays all of the information needed for the business transaction. In some cases, renters may not understand exactly what is in the lease agreement and/or the owner may not know what to include in the documentation. If a crucial piece of the lease is left out, it could lead to major legal problems later down the road.

First, the letter of intent should be made available with an accurate description of the rent, description of the space, terms, operating expenses, exclusivity clauses, security deposit, construction, maintenance and repair, parking, signage, repair, subletting and any other special requirements. The renter should then be given time to review the terms of the lease and communicate with their attorney if needed. It is advantageous for both the owner and the renter if both parties fully understand the terms and negotiate any changes if needed. Both parties should go in with realistic expectations of the lease and the negotiations process.

Who is responsible for water damage: tenants or landlords?

When you rent an apartment or property, it might feel like your landlord has all the power. Any time a scuff appears on the floor or a mark on the wall, you see your security deposit slowly slipping away, but you have renters’ rights covered by California laws

If you notice a leak from the roof or a damp spot on the wall, California law might protect you from making repairs or covering costs for water damage yourself.

Does a seller have to disclose lead paint?

You know that lead paint is a safety issue, but you may also be aware that in California and across the country, paint has been lead-free for decades. However, in older homes, the lead-based paint may still be present. Because you just bought an older house, learning about the possibility has you worried. But wouldn't the seller have to disclose such a major safety issue?

According to the California Department of Public Health, the answer is yes, the seller must tell you if he or she knows that there is a lead-based paint hazard in the home. There is a federal law, the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Act of 1992, that requires disclosure.

Understanding partition lawsuits

It is very common for siblings to have very different plans when it comes to their inheritance, but when the asset they receive is California real estate, it may be impossible for the each to get their own way. According to SFGate.com, ideally, both owners would agree to sell the property and divide the proceeds equally. However, one owner who is determined to sell may be able to force the other to sell, as well.

The courts will only get involved if one party files a partition lawsuit. This solution typically takes a considerable amount of time, and some people may prefer to simply find a buyer for their own interests in the property rather than force the other out. The new owner is likely to then file the partition lawsuit, so the remaining sibling may still be forced to give up the property. In this type of scenario, both siblings will probably get more from the property if they sell together. 

Documenting deductions from a security deposit

Landlords in Santa Cruz may approach the dates that tenants vacate their properties with a certain amount of trepidation. They could discover that the properties were poorly maintained, and that extensive repairs (or at the very least, a thorough cleaning) are needed before they can be rented again. Of course, they may expect the tenants to cover those costs through their security deposits. It may come as little surprise to learn, then, that Findlaw lists security deposit disputes as being the common problems between landlords and tenants. 

Even in cases where tenants accept that they should be liable for some of the costs to restore a property, they will likely scrutinize their landlords' use of security deposit money very carefully. Landlords should know, then, exactly what proof of deductions they are required to provide from a security deposit. Per California's Civil Code, a landlord must provide a tenant with an itemized statement detailing deductions from the tenant's security deposit within either 60 calendar days prior to the expiration of a fixed-term lease or 21 days after the property was vacated. That statement should detail the services performed to repair and/or clean the unit, or a bill, invoice or receipt for services done by a third party. A bill for any materials used in the cleaning or repair must also be included. 

Keep your rental: your rights as a tenant

Being served an eviction notice is a terrifying experience. In an instant you realize that you are losing your home, you could miss work due to suddenly being forced to move, you may not be able to afford moving costs and you simply might not have anywhere to go.

California law affords you several rights as a tenant, though, including stipulations on when you can and cannot be evicted and the amount of notice you must be given. 

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