Question: When can my landlord enter my apartment?
Answer: Tenants are granted exclusive possession of their apartment (or other rental property) when they sign a lease and comply with their lease obligations. This means tenants generally have control over who may enter the property and when they may do so.
Landlords, however, still have the right to enter the property as long as their entry is reasonable. California law lists the reasons why a landlord may enter your rental unit. These reasons include:
When a landlord is allowed to enter your rental property, the entrance should occur during normal, business hours. Landlords are also generally required to provide you with reasonable notice before seeking entry, and the notice must comply with California statutory guidelines.
California landlords may be liable to you for any entry that does not comply with California law. In extreme situations, the unauthorized entry may be considered a constructive eviction and entitle you to terminate your lease.
If you are having a problem with your landlord, the best course of action is often to discuss the matter in a noncontroversial manner. Your landlord may not understand your rights and may be willing to comply with your reasonable requests. If not, please consider consulting a licensed attorney.
Question: What does it mean that the F2A category is now current?
Answer: The Immigration and Nationality Act sets numerical limits on the number of visas that will be issued each year to categories of prospective immigrants. The F2A category is a family-based visa category that applies to spouses of lawful permanent residents and their unmarried children under 21 years of age.
Every month, the U.S. Department of State issues a bulleting that informs the public about how many visas are currently available since there are generally more potential immigrants than there are available visas. In recent memory, the F2A category has always had a long wait (often two to three years). The August 2013 visa bulleting, however, indicated that the F2A category is now current. The category is also current for September.
This means spouses of lawful permanent residents who are currently lawfully in the United States may immediately file the I-130 petition and I-485 Adjustment of Status application to get a green card. Both forms may be filed concurrently as long as the category stays current.
If a spouse or unmarried child under the age of 21 is currently residing outside of the United States, the individual is eligible to apply for Consular Processing if they have an approved I-130. Individuals without an approved I-130 petition may wish to file as soon as possible to take advantage of this recent change as it is unknown how long the F2A category will remain current. It is likely the category will experience some retrogression in the coming months.
Please consult an immigration attorney if you think you may be able to take advantage of this exciting opportunity.
Question: When will my security deposit be refunded?
Answer: In California, landlords have 21 days from the time the lease terminates to either refund a tenant's security deposit or provide the tenant with an itemized list of cleaning and repair deductions that reduce the amount refunded. If the landlord withholds any portion of the security deposit, he or she must also prove that the amount withheld was reasonable based on the landlord's costs.
Unlike rent, which is owed to the landlord and becomes the landlord's property, security deposits remain the tenant's property unless the tenant fails to pay his or her rent or damages the property. Landlords are not allowed to require a nonrefundable security deposit and must hold the deposit for the tenant throughout the lease term.
In addition, California law does not give landlords complete discretion over how the security deposit may be used. Landlords may only keep funds from the security deposit to:
Before a tenant moves out, he or she has the right to request an initial move-out inspection. This inspection gives the tenant the opportunity to fix any deficiencies in the property (clean, repair, etc) before having the amount deducted from his or her security deposit.
California law includes many other provisions that clarify and limit these general security deposit rights, so please consult an attorney if you have further questions on this issue.
Emil Dixon is the founder of the Davis Legal Center, a private law office located in Davis, California.