Long-term tenants entitled to 60-day notice

From Project Sentinel

Question: I received a 30-day notice terminating my tenancy. I thought I was entitled to a 60-day notice because I lived in two apartments within this complex for more than three years. The resident manager says the 30-day notice is valid. Who is correct?

Answer: California Civil Code 1946.1 regulates time-period requirements to terminate a tenancy. This law states that a tenant who lives in a dwelling for less than a year is entitled to a 30-day notice to move; a tenant who lives in a dwelling for a year or more is entitled to a 60-day notice.

Even though the combined tenancy within the complex exceeds a year, the answer to the question is determined by how long you have lived in the current apartment. If it is less than a year, the 30-day notice is valid; if it is a year or more, then a 60-day notice is required.

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Ending tenancy after senior moves

Question: I manage a large apartment complex for seniors. One of the tenants has moved into a care home and is not returning. What rules must I follow to end this tenancy?

Answer: In general, the tenant should submit a 30-day notice to move. Then follow the established policies and procedures to end tenancies. If the tenant is not able to handle this move or if the tenant is unable to provide a notice to move or authorize an agent, confer with a family member or the tenant's attorney to establish who is legally responsible for the tenant's affairs.

Once you obtain the information, proceed with the management policies. If no one contacts you or there is no one who takes legal responsibility, consider using the Notice of Belief of Abandonment procedure (Civil Code 1951.3). This notice is appropriate when the rent is at least two weeks late.

Send this notice to the tenant by first-class mail. This procedure gives the tenant 18 days to either notify the landlord of his or her intention to pay the rent and reoccupy the property or else consider the tenancy ended.

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Front-door lock must meet code

Question: I live in a very old apartment complex. To get out through my front door, I need to unlock the deadbolt lock with a key. This doesn't seem very safe. The manager says the lock meets the city housing code.

Answer: Based on California Building Code 1003.3.1.8, the deadbolt lock on the front door is not permissible. This code states that all rental housing "exit doors shall be openable from the inside without the use of a key, tool, or any special knowledge or effort." Therefore, the deadbolt lock should be replaced.

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Get shared-room decision in writing

Question: I live on a fixed income and need extra money to pay medical bills. A friend suggested that I rent out rooms in my home. I want to put in single beds and rent each room to more than one person. Can I?

Answer: This is fine as long as the parties agree to share the room. Renting a single room to more than one person is called "double letting." If they don't agree, double letting is prohibited by California Civil Code 1950.

If more than one person will share the room, their agreement to do so should be documented in writing, dated and signed by the tenants and by the landlord. Be sure to document how the security deposits are to be handled as each party vacates the room.

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This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually. For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212.

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