help!!! bad landlord/house (Brea: apartments, rentals, eviction)
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Have been renting single family house in SD for 1 year. Electrical system is very poor, as in if you use the dryer and microwave at the same time, 1/2 of the house's power goes out, if you touch the sink and fridge at the same time you get a shock, etc. Other issues include hot water heater needs pilot light lit every day, stove is loose, garbage disposal must be unplugged under sink to use dishwasher, dishwasher hose not installed (must place hose into sink to drain dishwasher), garage improperly converted to living room (no insulation or windows other than two 6-inch skylights and side door to outside - they literally left the garage door there and just drywalled over it.) Also, this house has no heat, but we are told many houses in this neighborhood don't have heat due to temperate climate. Not sure about this one...
Landlord insists on all payments in cash, she gives us a receipt out of a little receipt book. She refuses to do any repairs. Correction: she SAYS she is going to do them, but never gets around to it. I have been wanting to report her to the city/county, but my fiancee has been too worried we will have to move out, i.e. if the city finds it uninhabitable, they won't allow her to continue to rent it, so I haven't called. Now we are getting ready to move out anyway, so it won't much matter. SDGE bills have been inordinately high (500-700$ per month) since move-in. I'm no electrician, but I've lived in a lot of houses in this area, and I've never experienced that, especially in a house that doesn't even have air conditioning. Common sense would dictate this could have something to do with the improper wiring. We had SDGE come out and check the meter and it's functioning correctly according to them.
In essence, my landlord is CHEAP!!! Now that we've given her 30 days' notice, she's panicking and keeps talking about working shady deals about our security deposit, or how everything needs to be perfect or we aren't getting it back. (it's $1800). She frequently talks about how she doesn't have any money for repairs or how she won't be able to make the mortgage payment if our rent is even one day late. (She makes us drive 20 miles to drop it off). With that in mind, my guess is she long ago spent my $1800 deposit, instead of holding it in an account as a "real" landlord usually does, and now she's panicking because she won't have it to give back. There's nothing wrong with the house except a recently broken pane of glass in a French door which we are planning on fixing ourselves and will cost us less than $100. I don't want to get involved in taking her to court over this, I am in the process of buying a house in another city, which means I will be out of the area. I need this money in a timely manner to put towards the closing costs on my new house, I don't have time to take her to court over it. Also, I don't want a lawsuit, even one where I'm the plaintiff, going on while I'm trying to finalize a mortgage. My idea is this: to just not pay the rent ($1700) for the last month and let her keep the deposit. I know this is a little shady on my part as well, but I've spent a year trying to do things the right way with her and gotten nowhere. Now my future hangs in the balance, as I won't be able to close on my new house without that $1800. I'm counting on it, and at the same time I'm counting on her to not give it back and gamble that I won't bother to take her to court. My fiancee says this is a bad idea as she could put it on our credit report or sue us. I don't think she can put it on our credit because she's not a company or a "real" landlord, she's just some cheap old lady with a house. I wouldn't think she could or would take us to court due to the fact that there's no possible way she's renting legally in the first place so the court won't uphold an illegal contract.
Does anyone have any advice or know how to go about determining if she's renting legally (is there a city or county office that tracks rental houses, for example)?
I am already moving. But I'm trying to keep her from scamming me out of another 1800 after she's already done all of this. Or NOT done, might be the better word.
Not paying your rent is breaking your lease. Breaking your lease is breaking the law. The correct way to deal with this is in court. You know what you are doing is "shady", what else do you want to know?
To answer your question, check with your city or county to see if they require a business license or rental unit inspection in order to rent... it is easy to verify if they do.
The items you listed indicate multiple code issues that I'm not so sure I would want to bring up until after you out and have deposit in hand... I'm just being practical and I'm not sure how raising these issues will help you get your deposit back unless there is a dispute after you've left.
California law on Residential Security Deposits is very specific.
I can't advise you to apply your deposit to rent, but it happens a lot and how it turns out all depends on the parties involved.
Realistically, it takes more than a couple of weeks to go through the court system before you can be evicted and it can take a couple of months to show up on your credit report.
I've had several Tenant's become Homeowners and the Lenders have always sent me a form to verify occupancy and payment history.
The only way to handle this is the correct way, go to court. Going to court will be easy, and will be an easy win for you provided you have good documentation of the condition of the property when you moved in and when you moved out. The other way is to contact her and express your concern about the deposit, and your friendly desire to avoid a trip to small claims, and hope she doesn't call your bluff. But realistically this shouldn't be a bluff.
The other issue is using your deposit to cover your rent. The time involved for her to sue you wouldn't effect your prospective home purchase, but you would be a homeowner in time for her to sue you and put a lien on your recently acquired home.
And these SDGE bills are totally unrealistic. How big is this place? Are you located more than 10-15 miles from the coast? Most people with a 3/2 house in the coastal zone wouldn't have a power bill over $150/month in even the worst month. Are their two houses on this property? Maybe you are paying the bill for both houses. This definitely can happen, especially in funky rundown situations.
hey sd1976 i to can't tell you what to do , but i can say that if the house is as bad as you say, i dought that she would try any legal action in court . that would cost her money too! , also it would taked some time , and like you said you need the money to move into your new house ,there is no garentee that she has your deposit ready so most likely you will need to take her to court and wait for your money any way. so play it safe , bird in hand is better than the many in the bush . hold on to what you have . also she would have to go to court and win before she could put any kind of a lein on your new home and to tell the truth as a former mgr. of rental property i can truthfully say that many times tennants have the same and the courts have ruled in the tennants favor simply because they were owed the money any way with in 3 weeks of moving out of the property.alsoif this were to happen you only need to demand to see the bank statement showing her balance, if there is as she states no money for repairs you win . good luck with your move.
but if I knew I already had a house in the wings, I probably would not pay her the final month's rent, since she has $1800 of your money.
California landlords are notorious for screwing people out of their deposits.
And your landlord sounds like exactly the kind of person who would do this.
With all the problems in your house, it sounds like she doesn't care about you the least bit. All she wants is her rent.
Since you already gave her 30 days notice, you could just act as if you plan to be late paying your rent for the final month because you don't have the money, since you just bought a house. What can she do? People do occasionally pay rent late. It happens.
Yes, it may go on your credit report. But so what? You already own a house.
She could legally serve you with an eviction notice, but I believe you would still have 30 days to live there even with the notice. Since you would be moving out anyway within 30 days, it doesn't affect your plans.
Then, after 21 days of your vacating the house, she is obligated to return your security deposit. You still owe her the final months rent, but at that time, you could potentially work out the final amount with the landlord in person, and not involve a court.
Once again ... I am not a legal advisor ... but I also have been screwed out of my security deposit in the past, so I know how it feels. Taking people to court is a hassle, and then there is still no guarantee they will pay you after you win your lawsuit.
Use your best judgement. If you have any friends who are attorneys, maybe you could get some free legal advice?
One other thing ... if you do pay her the final months rent, and she fails to return your security deposit after 21 days, I believe you can sue her for 3 times the amount of the deposit. Check into CA laws regarding rent and deposits.
If she does not give you your deposit back, request some documentation as to why you are not getting it back. Also, take pictures of the rooms before you leave. That way, if she says something was damaged, you have proof that it was not.
Also, select your state and you can read about tenant rights from HUD here:
[url=http://www.hud.gov/renting/tenantrights.cfm]Tenant Rights - HUD[/url]
[url=http://www.rentalads.com]Rental Properties Houses for Rent Home Rentals Apartments Homes for Rent House[/url]
I'm in the same boat. My landlord holds the deposit over my head light some trophy. This is a true slumlord. Chipping peeling paint exposed electric wires. Cracking walls holes in walkways and driveway. The place hasn't had any TLC in 20 years.
Too my story I had the upstairs bathtub leaking (no flowing) into the ceiling in to our bathtub and yes the next word's MOLD everywhere. The family is sick. We have run to a hotel. The cheap Buthead sent he's maintance guy and he walked in the bathroom climbed a ladder and began ripping the ceiling out no plastic no nothing with us standing there. MOLD everywhere!!! So he drags the MOLD through the place doesn't replace the MOLDED wood no bleach puts up new drywall paints and were done. I paid for a home inspection, went to a doctor, took mega pic's and talked to an attorney.
PAY THE RENT THEN TAKE EM' TO COURT. You can't lose if you do it the legal way. Call the city housing inspector! GET PROOF IN WRITING!!!!!!
Last edited by getting screwed; 02-01-2011 at 08:14 PM..
Reason: Adding commit
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