Question: The resident manager handed my 16-year-old daughter a notice for me to move. I plan on moving but want to know if it is OK for a minor to receive notices?
Answer: Unless the courts have legally emancipated your daughter, any notice served to her by the manager is not considered properly served. Non-emancipated minors cannot be served legal documents or landlord-tenant notices or forms.
Contact your manager and request proper service to you or any other adult on the rental agreement.
Remember, if you have resided in the property for more than a year and have a month-to-month tenancy, you are entitled to a 60-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. Any month-to-month tenancy under a year requires a 30-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. If you are on a lease, your tenancy cannot be terminated until the lease expires, unless you violate the lease or some applicable law.
If you reside in a rent-controlled city or county or in subsidized housing such as Section 8, 90 days notice are required, as specified in Civil Code Section 1954.535.
Manager refused partial payment
Question: I was $100 short with last month's rent and the resident manager refused to accept the amount I offered. Fortunately I was able to pay the full rent, but I thought a manager could only refuse a partial amount based on a three-day notice. What do you think?
Answer: A landlord or his agent can refuse to accept a partial rent payment, whether for the current month's payment or a payment requested through a 3-Day Pay Rent or Quit Notice. But, if a tenant has a good payment history and is only experiencing a temporary shortage, it seems that accepting a partial payment for the current month's rent should not be a problem.
Accepting any partial payment voids a three-day notice and requires that a new three-day notice be served for the remaining balance. Because of this rule, many landlords will refuse a partial payment. In general, managers or agents take direction from their employers or property owners, who may have very lax or very strict rules or policies regarding accepting full or partial rent payments.
The last word on final month's rent
Question: For years, it has been my policy to collect a last month's deposit from new tenants. When I get a notice that a tenant is moving, I require that current month's rent to be paid and then I refund the original "last-month's-rent" deposit after the tenant moves and the security deposit is settled. A prospective tenant says requiring the last month's rent to be paid twice is not allowed. Who is right?
Answer: The prospective tenant is correct if the original "last month's rent" paid is specifically designated as "last month's rent" either in the rental or lease agreement or on the receipt provided at the beginning of the tenancy. In this case, you can't collect rent again for the last month of the tenancy.
However, if the amount of the last month's rent originally collected is not specified as such to the tenant, then it doesn't have to be considered as last month's rent and the tenant should pay rent for the last month he or she occupies the property.
To avoid misunderstandings of how funds paid at the beginning of a tenancy are defined, you should state specifically in writing as to how they are designated -- security deposit, last month's rent, keys etc.
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, Calif. 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 or the Southern California Housing Rights Center at (800) 477-5977.