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Tenant Rights
updated: Jun 27, 2012, 11:09 AM

By Edhat Subscriber

I am seeking information about my rights as a tenant. I am moving from a house I have rented for approx. 12 years. It's an old house on the West side. The landlord is a private individual and sorry to say has not been a very nice person over all these years. Now that I have given my 30 day notice she has been even nastier. She said this is a really bad time for her that I am moving. Then insulted me asking if I was moving to some really cheap dump in the area. I kindly said no. I told her it was a nice place on the Mesa. Then then insulted me again and asked rudely if it was the place where there are always wild parties and the police have to come break things up all the time. She has never given me her address, so I can't mails her the written 30 day notice. She also does not have an answering machine and is very hard to contact (I try to avoid contact anyway). So I am just waiting for her to come by and pick up the last rent check and the 30 day notice. I just feel really uncomfortable about the whole situation and an concerned about my rights here. I also would certainly like to get back my security deposit as my husband and I have done a lot to maintain and improve the cute little house. I would greatly appreciate anyone's thoughts on this situation and how I can try and protect myself here. Thanks!

Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)

 COMMENT 291928 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:26 AM

I hope the landlord knows how to protect herself in this situation too. There is no contract clause for her to be nice; just to let you live on her property in exchange for rent. Nor to reimburse you for improvements you made without her written authorization.

You can use a process server if you want proof she was given proper notice. And you can open an escrow account if you want to ensure your payment of has been made, that you claim she is now refusing to take.

Yes, you have security deposit rights. Learn what they are - you can get all this information online. They are quite specific. Those are the only rights you have right now. And she has rights under them as well. Know this before you get to blows over this.

Check your signed lease/rental agreement. There should be a legal notice and payment address among the terms where you can send both these items - get P.O. proof to back this up.


 COMMENT 291931 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:30 AM

Time to lawyer up?


 COMMENT 291941 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:42 AM

Take pictures or videos of the house before you leave, cleaned and tidy.
Have friends willing to sign notarized statements saying that they say your 30-day notice was ready on the appropriate date but that you had no address to deliver it to. Have a friend witness that you gave the notice to the landlord.
If you have to go to small claims court the notarized statements will make sure you win your case.
The property parcel database maintained by the County gives the mailing address of your landlord or the owner of the property if you want to send something certified mail.
You've been there for 12 years so if your landlord tries to get you on anything else than fixing major damage that you caused to walls floors windows etc, you will get your money back if you sue. After 12 yrs she would be expected to pay for painting, carpet cleaning and/or replacement, or any other items considered to be routine maintenance. Small claims really helped me out last time I moved.


 COMMENT 291942 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:46 AM

Sounds like your landlord isn't a happy person. Take her comments with a grain of salt. You don't need to hang on to her karma.


 COMMENT 291943 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:47 AM

"People -- they're the worst kind."
--Jerry Seinfeld


 COMMENT 291949P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:50 AM

Granted it is a tough time for some people but being nasty to people is not the proper way to deal with the stress. Future renter beware!


 COMMENT 291951 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:51 AM

Take pics of the place. After 12 years the before and after is immaterial as it is expected that carpeting and paint would have suffered a requisite amount of wear and tear. But if you can document the state you are leaving the house in you could have a leg to stand on should you have to litigate/mediate for return of your cleaning deposi. Include any receipts for professional cleaning services you might wish to employ. Showing your willingness to go the extra mile to leave the place in as good a condition you rented it in always sits well in your favour with any third parties.

Having said that I would also be leery of putting in a lot of effort to appease someone whom you might feel is going to take you to the cleaners no matter what.


 COMMENT 291955 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 11:57 AM

Run away - give your notice and move - attorneys take time and emotional time -

forget about the deposit - 12 yrs -

this woman sounds like a nut job - no address?


 COMMENT 291959P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 12:03 PM

As 941 mentioned you can get the property owner's name and mailing address from the Co. Tax Collector's Office - 568-2920. If it's a PO Box, send a copy of the 30-day notice you've been trying to give her certified/registered with return receipt requested. Include a letter explaining the difficulties you've had getting written notice to her and indicating the date on which you gave her verbal notice. If it's a physical address have her personally served by a process server or by the Sheriff Civil Bureau - it's on SB Street near the DA's Office.
Also, call SB Rental Housing Mediation Task Force - 564-5420. They are very knowledgeable, helpful and free.
Good luck.


 COMMENT 291968 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 12:21 PM

After 12 years, you cannot be charged for carpet or paint, unless there is damage to walls. As a former apartment manager, I agree with take photos and videos before you leave. If you leave it in good condition you should get your deposit back.....it doesn't matter that you have been their 12 years, you still have the right to your deposit back if you leave the place in good condition. When (if) you do get your deposit back and you were charged for anything, there must be receipts showing exactly what you where charged for and why. Don't let this mean landlord screw you over, it sounds like you have been an excellent tenant. If you have further problems, call the SB Rental Mediation Task Force for advice. Good luck!


 COMMENT 291985 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 12:43 PM

Rental Housing Mediation Taskforce. (805) 564-5420


 COMMENT 291989 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 12:52 PM

google search CA Tenat Rights and there is a very helpful pdf that comes up


 MESARATS agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 01:00 PM

If everyone has lived there for a year or more it should have been a 60 day. That is a fairly recent change, but at this point moot since you have somewhere else to live. Basic info in the link below:



 COMMENT 292001 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 01:16 PM

I have lived here for 30 years. I have lived in 5 places. I had a bad experience at my last place and decided I would never rent from an individual owner again. I found my current rental through a good property manager. They have a mailing address, a website and they generally fix anything that is wrong with 24 hours. There are so many shady owners and this lady sounds like one of the worst. Chances are you will not be able to get your deposit back-I lost mine too but I did the math - I had lived there for 9 years and quite frankly, I was just glad to be on to the next thing. You live, you learn. It sounds like you have found a better place. Wasting anymore time on this lady, in my respectful opinion, is not worth it. Enjoy your new place and be glad that you don't have to deal with her anymore.


 SHOREBIRD agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 01:44 PM

Thanks everyone for the good information. I have a friend who was given a no-reason-given 60 days notice (by the wicked witch of the la Cumbra area) to vacate her place after 10+ years and this will all come in handy.

I hope that the next tenant sets up a meth lab in this decrepit, rat infested over priced mobile home. I don't believe in karma but sometimes the universe gets back in balance.


 COMMENT 292030 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 01:59 PM

Call the Rental Housing Mediation Task Force. It's a free service provided by the City of Santa Barbara. They are very knowledgeable.

(805) 564-5420


 COMMENT 292033P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 02:00 PM

SB Mediation Task Force is awesome - very knowedgeable, great helpful attitude - they're a resource we can't afford to lose in SB, particularly since SBPD refuses to acknowledge or enforce some CA landlord-tenant law (law that refers to lodgers). Nolo has great books on landlord-tenant law, http://www.nolo.com/info/tenant-law. CA law says communications such as a 30-day notice need to be in writing, so since you didn't have that option, verify your phone notice with your phone call history, and it wouldn't hurt to send a certified letter stating you had no mailing address at the time you gave notice. It's always a good idea for both parties to have a move-in checklist that includes the condition of everything in the rental, and video is a really good idea too. These are great to reduce or eliminate move-out disputes. A rental is business property for a landlord, and the IRS webite has depreciation schedules (standard lifetimes for appliances, drapes, carpet, etc) if there's a dispute about normal wear-and-tear versus negligence or abuse of furnishings. Your landlord doesn;t have to be a nice person, but harassment because you're moving out isn't OK. In CA, maybe everywhere, the bias of law is in favor of tenants, and your landlord probably knows this. The NOLO books have sample contracts and checklists. I can imagine that after having you as a tenant for 12 years, your landlord sees advertising for a new tenant, interviews and background checks on a new tenant, etc, as a real hassle. That's not your problem., but it may account for your landlord's hostile attitude - you spoiled her! Also - the law says that a landlord has to return a security deposit within 21 days, so you can't ask for it when you move out.


 COMMENT 292080 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 03:34 PM

I had to forfeit my 300 dollar deposit, the owner is crazy. Pulled a gun on a bouncer and now is serving time in prison. Sometimes it's better to let your son defend his own honor. sheesh what a freak.


 COMMENT 292094 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 03:56 PM

Along with the County Recorders office for finding the landlord address, you can try www . zabasearch . com Or reverse phone search on that site also. And, I give a big thumbs up for the Mediation Task force. Take lots of pictures. Know your rights. And, good luck.


 COMMENT 292095 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 03:57 PM

Nothing worse than a landlord that doesn't know the laws. But, you must do your 30day notice in writing... Let us know what happens


 COMMENT 292101P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 04:03 PM

OP here. Thanks everyone for all the tips! I wish I would have posted before I told her I was giving 30 day notice. I would have had a much better knowledge base thanks to you all. I have her address now and she will get the notice in writing. BTW, the deposit was $1,200. I consider that a significant amount - not just a few hundred dollars.


 COMMENT 292126 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 04:46 PM

Yada, yada, yada.

Landlord = 100% bad
Tenant = 100% pure as driven snow


 COMMENT 292223 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 08:51 PM

Be sure to film the cover page of a current newspaper in your video -- to prove that the video was made recently, and not when you moved in. I can see some sneaky landlord saying "that video is 12 years old!!!"


 COMMENT 292232P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-27 10:23 PM

Good luck getting that deposit back - that's worth fighting for!


 COMMENT 292269 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 07:37 AM

As someone else said, take pictures.

Also, mail the 30 day notice to the same place you mailed your rent checks and make sure you get a return receipt/confirmation so that you have proof someone received and signed for it.

Other than that, you probably need to at least consult with a lawyer. I don't think you NEED a lawyer, but people on edhat aren't going to be able to protect you by arming you with all the actual, legit information you will need to know about your rights in this kind of situation. So pony up the $250 or whatever for an hour with a good atty. At least you won't end up owing HER money in the long run, and you'll have gained some knowledge for next time you're renting. Good luck!!


 COMMENT 292288 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 08:12 AM

Definitely call the City of Santa Barbara's Rental Housing Mediation Taskforce at 805-564-5420.


 COMMENT 292298 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 08:28 AM

I am a property manager and normally I would never recommend this, but since she has never given you an address, I would just give her a 30-day notice and tell her to take the last month's rent out of your deposit or if the deposit is less than a month's rent, pay the amount that would equal a month's rent. By law, she must give you a notice that you have the right to an inspection before you move out and if she doesn't give that to you, she CANNOT deduct anything from your deposit, but since you have no way to contact her if she doesn't fulfil her legal obligations, I would not give her any extra $$.


 COMMENT 292326 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 09:17 AM

I like 292298's suggestion. When the playing field is not even, you have to get creative. And in my opinion, the person holding the money is the one with the advantage. Currently your landlord is holding the money. Take your deposit out of the rent (which for a house in SB the rent MUST be more than $1200), give her the rest, and then you will be holding the money. Since your landlord is clearly upset at the potential reduction in income, she will most assuredly contact you wondering why the rent payment was low. There you can ask for a mailing address, and if she gives it to you then go ahead and pay the rest of the $1200. If she doesn't then don't pay her.


 COMMENT 292345 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 10:18 AM

I grew up in SB and my last landlord/lady has all but driven me out of my hometown for the financial destruction due to incompetent maintenance that ruined my health. The older generation of "mom and pop" landlords here generally (I know there are some gems out there) cannot be relied upon except for their greed and fear about "other people" ripping them off a few hundred or thousand dollars when they've made hundreds of thousands off investment income properties over decades. These people are demented and they're everywhere. Really? I have more education and professional experience than you and you're afraid of me because I'm "a renter" (who would be rich in any other city)? And I'm a white person. I can't imagine the racism experienced by people of color in SB trying to rent.


 COMMENT 292431 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 03:00 PM

They have to give you your deposit back within 30 days of vacating, and if they take anything out of it, they need to provide you with an itemized list. There are only certain things they can charge for, as others have mentioned. Good Luck!! Enjoy your new home!


 COMMENT 292488 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 04:33 PM

OP first states they gave notice, then a few sentences later says they can't give no notice without landlord's address. BTW how has this tenant paid rent all these years without an address to take the check to??? I call BS.


 COMMENT 292524P agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-28 08:43 PM

Now that you posted your concern,you pretty much showed proof about her character as a landlord. Start moving and seriously have her investigated by the law.Suggest you continue to take photos, take notation of everything and just do what you need to do, "move forward" without fear. but keep things balanced without any anger. Be You need to be solid and hold ground to your rights.. Also make sure you are provided with a "checklist" when you do your walk-through after you get things done.
Bottom line, "have her investigated." Seriously, she really needs to be investigated.. its easy to do this, be strong. You can do this.


 COMMENT 293003 agree helpful negative off topic

2012-06-30 05:56 PM

Landlords all seem to be nice and friendly till the moment any matience or deposit is mentioned


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