I provide residential real estate legal services surrounding landlord/tenant law. Whether faced with a habitability issue or a failure to pay rent, California law in this field is extremely detailed and complex. I have handled hundreds of evictions many of which resulted in court trials successfully resolved. Real estate law is constantly evolving which is why it is important to retain knowledgeable experienced counsel.
I continue to assist several property management companies with their ongoing residential real estate needs including but not limited to: serving proper notices; unlawful detainers; security deposit issues; collection of money judgments. I also provide assistance collecting on money judgments such as wage garnishments and abstracts of judgment. Please note that a majority of leases contain a provision providing for attorney fees.
An example of an area where I can be especially helpful is in handling unlawful detainers, which are "summary" court procedures where court action moves forward very quickly. For this reason it is critical to retain an attorney who will be able to respond knowledgeably and efficiently, given the time-sensitive nature of landlord/tenant cases. Whether you have a tenant who is refusing to pay rent without justification or destroying the premises contact Darlene immediately to start the process.
What are the landlord's options if a tenant refuses to allow entry even when a landlord has given adequate notice and has a valid reason to enter?
A landlord should not force entry except when there is a true emergency, such as a fire or gas leak. However, if a tenant is repeatedly unreasonable in denying the landlord access, the landlord can legally enter anyway, during reasonable times, provided he does so in a peaceful manner. However, in no case should the landlord enter if the tenant is present and saying "stay out." If the lease agreement contains a provision regaridng right of entry, then the landlord can start the eviction process based on the tenant violating the lease or rental agreement. Contact Darlene if you need to start the eviction.
If the tenant has failed to pay rent, can the landlord change the locks or turn off the utilities in the premises?
Absolutely NO! The landlord cannot ever use self-help measures to force the tenant to move. For example, the landlord cannot physically remove or lock out the tenant, cut off utilities such as water or electricity, remove outside windows or doors, or seize (take) the tenant's belongings in order to carry out the eviction. The landlord must use the court procedures. If the landlord uses unlawful methods to evict a tenant, the landlord may be subject to liability for the tenant's damages, as well as penalties of up to $100 per day for the time that the landlord used the unlawful methods. Your only option is to move forward with the unlawful detainer process.
In addition to receiving back my rental property, can I request that the court order the tenant to pay money damages as well?
Yes. The court can order that unpaid rent be paid as well as the landlord damages, court costs, and attorney's fees. If the court finds that the tenant acted maliciously in not giving up the rental unit, the court also may award the landlord up to $600 as a penalty.
Contact Darlene today to help you with various tools that can be used to collect on a money judgment.
The Law Office of Darlene R. Kemp is centrally located at 8070 Soquel Drive, Suite 120 in Aptos and is only minutes away from the courthouse located in Watsonville where all family law matters are heard in Santa Cruz County. We also serve clients in the Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara, San Jose and greater Bay Area. (831) 688-0700