Question: How far in advance can my landlord request that I renew my lease agreement?
Answer: It is that time of the year in many college towns when landlords are requesting that tenants renew their leases for the Fall, even though the existing lease does not expire for another six to seven months. Many tenants are confused and frustrated by this process and want to know their legal rights.
Unfortunately for tenants in this situation, California law does not place any restrictions on when a landlord can request a lease renewal. This means landlords can ask tenants to renew their leases as far in advance as they would like unless there is a lease provision that addresses the issue. Most leases contain a lease renewal provision that states the time frame for renewing the lease and the manner in which the tenant must renew should they choose to do so. Your landlord must comply with a lease renewal provision, if it exists, and you should be firm in its enforcement.
Moreover, you still have the right of quiet enjoyment in the property even if you choose not to renew your lease agreement throughout the remainder of your lease term, which means your landlord will have to comply with certain requirements when showing the property to prospective renters. You can read more about this right and the laws governing a landlord’s entry into your rental in our posts below.
Please contact our office if you have any questions about your rights or if you think special rules, such as living in a rental control district, apply.
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 is the Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment?
Answer: The Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is an implied covenant (promise) that is adopted into every residential and commercial lease contract. The covenant was adopted in California to ensure that tenants are not deprived of the full use and enjoyment of their rental property.
In many ways, the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment is similar to the Implied Warranty of Habitability found in residential leases. Both are implied into lease agreements (meaning they are contained in the lease even if they are not expressly stated) and both are designed to protect tenants from substantial interferences with their use of the leased premises. Moreover, both may apply to the same situation if the problem results from a physical defect in the property such as a leaky roof, faulty plumbing, or failed electricity.
In order for a tenant to be able to seek relief from his or her landlord under the Implied Covenant of Quiet Enjoyment, the interference must substantial affect a material part of the property. Mild annoyances are not sufficient. The interference must also be caused by the landlord or someone under the landlord’s control, including other tenants. Disturbances resulting from neighboring properties, such as a neighboring business not owned by the landlord, are not qualifying disturbances under the covenant.
Tenants suffering from disturbances may have a variety of options, including collecting damages, forcing the behavior to stop, or moving out if the interference is extreme and the landlord fails to take appropriate action.
If you are suffering from a disturbance, you should discuss the matter with your landlord to see if the problem can be remedied. Landlords are often not aware of problems and are generally willing to take corrective steps. If not, you may consider consulting an attorney or other legal services organization for help.
Emil Dixon is the founder of the Davis Legal Center, a private law office located in Davis, California.