Nearly 45% or 6 million California households are renting their homes. Because so many households rely on rental housing, tenant rights are essential to keeping families in their homes. California law requires rented units to be habitable, and the process of renting must be free from discriminatory practices. At the same time, landlords also have rights when managing their property, collecting rent, and maintaining a damage-free unit. In short, the landlord-tenant laws in California require both parties to follow strict deadlines and legal requirements. Pakpour Banks LLP has the knowledge and expertise to defend your rights as your Woodland, California, landlord-tenant lawyer.
Tenant’s Rights in California
Finding suitable housing for your family is one of the most significant decisions you can make. As a renter, you have certain rights and responsibilities with regard to your home. When you sign a rental agreement, you must abide by its terms. In addition, California law grants tenants important rights that you and your landlord should be aware of.
Right to a Habitable Unit
When you agree to rent a unit, you expect it to be livable or “habitable.” A unit is habitable if it is suitable for humans to occupy and substantially complies with health and safety regulations. It is the landlord’s responsibility to make the unit habitable. Examples of uninhabitable units are homes that lack a working toilet, electricity, waterproofing, or homes that are located on unclean or unsanitary buildings or grounds. If your unit needs repairs, you should notify your landlord of the needed repairs in writing. If the landlord fails to take action, you have several options, including deducting the repair costs from your rent, abandoning the unit, or withholding rent. The landlord-tenant law attorneys at Pakpour Banks LLP can help you find the right option for your situation.
Right to Housing Free of Discrimination
A landlord cannot treat you differently or evict you for a discriminatory reason. California law protects particular classes of tenants, and a housing provider cannot justify an eviction on the characteristics of that class. For example, a landlord must offer consistent terms to men and women, married and unmarried families, and people of different races. Similarly, a landlord cannot refuse to rent to a family because they have children. If you experience discriminatory housing practices, our landlord-tenant attorneys can help you understand your rights.
Freedom from Unfair Evictions and Retaliation
Before a landlord can evict your household, they must give you written notice and an opportunity to comply. The notice must explain why they want to terminate your lease and how much time you have to take action. Additionally, your landlord must have a lawful reason for terminating your lease. As explained above, your landlord cannot evict you for a discriminatory reason or as retaliation for reporting uninhabitable conditions. Legal reasons for sending an eviction notice include the following:
- Not paying rent in full or on time;
- Breaking the lease terms and refusing to comply, like keeping a pet when the lease does not allow one;
- Damaging the property (committing “waste”);
- Disturbing other tenants and neighbors despite being asked to stop; or
- Using the property to do something illegal.
If you disagree with the reasons given in the notice, talk to your landlord and try to work something out. If you don’t reach an agreement by the deadline, your landlord can initiate eviction proceedings, known as an unlawful detainer. If you’ve been served with an eviction notice, don’t wait before getting in touch with an attorney—do so immediately. If you wait, you could miss crucial deadlines that you must meet to preserve your rights.
What Is an Unlawful Detainer?
If a landlord has a lawful reason to evict a tenant, they must provide notice and wait for the deadline to pass. If the tenant refuses to comply within the deadline, the landlord can file an eviction case—this is called an unlawful detainer. Once filed, the landlord must serve a copy of the court papers (the Summons and Complaint) on the tenant. The tenant then must decide if they want to participate in the lawsuit and fight the eviction. If so, they have five days to respond with an Answer.
If the tenant does not file an Answer, the landlord can request a default judgment. In a default judgment, the judge orders the tenant to move out without input from the tenant.
If the tenant files an Answer, the landlord can request a trial date by filing a Request to Set Case for Trial-Unlawful Detainer (form UD-150). The court will set the trial within 20 days of filing the request. At trial, both sides will present evidence and testimony to prove their side of the issue. The judge or jury will determine whether the eviction is lawful and if the tenant must move out. The judge could also order the tenant to pay back rent, damages, penalties, and costs, like filing fees and attorney fees (if this is in the rental agreement). Our Woodland eviction lawyers have experience representing both sides during unlawful detainer proceedings and will help you navigate the process.
Woodland, California Landlord-Tenant Lawyer: Pakpour Banks LLP
Managing California’s many rules and regulations on rental properties can be challenging. As a tenant, you have a right to a habitable unit free of discrimination and arbitrary eviction. However, landlords have the right to collect rent and be free of any damage done to the rented property. Our Woodland eviction attorneys help landlords and tenants negotiate reasonable agreements or fight for their rights in court.
If you’re dealing with eviction notices and procedures, our attorneys can help. Whether you need to know if you have a lawful reason to file for eviction or are wondering what your rights are to stay in your home, you need an eviction lawyer on your side. Attempting to navigate the unlawful detainer process without representation risks losing your chance to defend your rights.
Our firm offers each client personal attention and communication that is rarely available from big firms. As a tight-knit group of professionals, we are dedicated to helping California residents achieve their goals in Woodland and beyond. We provide forthright advocacy and careful but deliberate action to help you manage this difficult situation.