3 Day Notice, Neighbors, Criteria

Q: I heard that the time periods for calculation of a Three-Day Notice to Pay or Quit is about to change, is that true?

A: Correct, not only the Notice to Pay or Quit but the Notice to Perform or Quit as well. Effective September 1, 2019, calculation of the days to perform now exclude Saturday, Sunday and other judicial holidays. After September 1, 2019, a Three-Day Notice served on Monday, will expire on Thursday, same as it was before; every day is counted. However, a Three-Day Notice served on a Friday, will now expire on the following Wednesday; Saturday and Sunday are not counted.

This new law, AB 2343, applies to both residential and commercial tenancies. Additionally, the time period for responding to an unlawful detainer civil court action is extended so that Saturday, Sunday and other judicial holidays are not counted when calculating the due date for a responsive pleading. The result of this change is a delay in the eviction process.

Q: My neighbor is driving me nuts. We have a fence that straddles our shared property line. There’s been time to repair it for years now (it looks pretty bad); however, I can’t get him to agree on sharing the cost to repair it. What do I do?

A: California enacted the Good Neighbor Fence Act back in 2013 to address issues like this. It creates a rebuttable presumption that adjoining landowners share equally in the cost of maintenance of boundaries and monuments between them. It also provides a procedure to follow to guide the parties toward resolution of the dispute.

You must provide your neighbor 30 days’ notice of your intent to incur costs to maintain the fence, and that there is a presumption of equal responsibility for the costs of construction. The notice should describe (i) the nature of the problem; (ii) the proposed solution; (iii) the estimated costs; (iv) the proposed costs-sharing approach; and (v) the proposed timeline.

The neighbor may agree or disagree. If he disagrees, he must bring an action to determine if any adjustments are warranted. The court will consider: (i) whether or not the financial burden is disproportionate; (ii) whether the cost of the fence exceeds the value realized; and (iii) whether the financial burden causes an undue financial hardship to the party. The court can adjust the financial responsibilities accordingly.

Q: I’ve always heard that I should post my rental criteria in a conspicuous place so that applicants can plainly see whether or not they are qualified before they submit their application. I typically require that the applicants’ combined income exceed three times the rent; however, I might make exceptions. Also, in years past, a foreclosure on an applicant’s credit report was an automatic disqualifier; but after attending your tenant screening class, I have reconsidered. With so many exceptions to my rental criteria, my sign would be huge! How do I handle this?

A: Yes, it’s a good practice to post your rental criteria in a conspicuous place. The details and specifics of your rental criteria, however, do not need to be included, as these details and specifics are not necessarily static; that is, they may change or evolve over time depending on your situation.

For example, your three times income requirement may work fine if you have a single vacancy and a dozen applicants; however, it may be a bit too restrictive in the present economy, or in the event you have three vacancies, your phone hasn’t rung in days, and you’ve only received a single application in the past two weeks.

Every owner should establish the following as their general rental criteria. A qualified applicant should: (i) have a verifiable and positive credit history; (ii) have a verifiable and positive past tenancy history, (iii) have sufficient and verifiable income to meet his or her present and future financial obligations; and (iv) should not pose a risk of harm to the rental property or to others. These general rental criteria can and should be applied equally and fairly to all applicants, and be in compliance with all fair housing rules. Once applied, the best applicant should be accepted, not necessarily the first to apply.

Q: I am a very conscientious landlord. I want to ensure that my rentals are well maintained and that any maintenance issues are addressed immediately. Every year, I send a notice to my residents informing them that I will inspect each unit. I have been doing this for years without any problems. This month I received a letter from one of my tenants telling me that I had no right to enter his apartment to look around, that he would not let me in. What do I do? Can I force my way in to do the inspection?

A: Your policy of doing annual inspections is admirable and is practiced by responsible landlords throughout California. Most tenants welcome a responsible landlord’s actions in ensuring that all is well, and voluntarily cooperate in providing access upon the landlord’s reasonable request. It is clearly in the best interest of all to ensure that any maintenance issues are promptly addressed, and that a spirit of communication and cooperation exists between a landlord and his residents.

Trouble is, your resident is right. There is no specific provision in California law requiring a resident to allow the landlord access to merely “inspect” the premises. California law states that a landlord can enter a rental unit only for certain reasons. Those reasons are in an emergency; when the tenant has moved out or abandoned the premises; to make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations, or other improvements; to show the unit to prospective purchasers, tenants, or lenders; to provide entry to contractors or workers who are to perform work on the unit; to conduct a pre-move out inspection at the end of the tenancy; pursuant to court order; or to inspect the smoke detector or inspect the installation of a waterbed. Conspicuously absent from this body of law is the unfettered right of a landlord to just inspect for the pure sake of just making sure everything is all right. You cannot force your tenant to allow access for the purpose of inspection.

 

This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a particular situation should be addressed to your attorney. Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm has successfully handled over 285,000 landlord tenant matters throughout California and has collected over $200,000,000 in debt since 1988. The firm may be reached at 714-279-1100 or 800-829-6994. Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information.