Is it illegal?

11 Replies

So I have a tenant who hasn't payed rent for two months. I could evict her but, it's a long process. Do I have the right to take away the appliances I own in that apartment,from her? To make her life more complicated. And I wanted to know if it's Illegal to take your couch, chairs, light bulbs etc. to make her life miserable. Cause I bought all that stuff. when she first moved in, she only had bags of clothes, that's it. I just want her to leave, because I don't wanna take it to court.

Ok, so what happens after 6(and counting) months goes by and you've taken everything but the kitchen sink and the tenant still hasn't paid one red cent? Then you take the kitchen sink....and then....at what point do you start the eviction process or do you just write it off as a squatter house and move-on after 9 to 12 months? I'm not trying to be funny just wondering. It seems that California is the hardest place in the country to evict tenants and its a squatters paradise, imo, from the numerous related BP posts.

Kudos,

Mary   

Um no! sorry! no legal advice but from a fellow california landlord start the process. if she is a professional tenant she will quickly figure out all the things you have done wrong and cause more problem for you than if you just did it right.

When my tenants are late or problem children  I sedt a strong professional letter telling her she has X time to pay or I will start the evection process under the fullest extent of the law.

@Pedro Leal Hopefully you documented well all of the furnishings you provided and are watching to make sure she does not take them with her when she eventually does leave. Do you have a strong, well written rental agreement? Do you do periodic inspections? Do you enforce your rental agreement? Since rent is late, you better check if she is current with the utilities. You need to use proper legal notices and follow the landlord-tenant laws for your jurisdiction. You better know those laws better than the tenant and be prepared at all times to evict if necessary. Seek the services of a qualified attorney, especially if you are new to landlording. Also, find yourself a local mentor. Good luck!

That's going to fall under the umbrella of self help eviction and that is a no no.

You are in California that is a very tenant friendly state. You are going to have to bite the bullet and take her to court. New landlords have a fear of the court system. You must get over this fear immediately. This will not be the last time you need to take a tenant to court. Just part of the biz.

@Pedro Leal - Oh no, please don't....you are headed for trouble. There are professional tenants out there who will take you to school and court.

Please seek legal help in closing out this issue as it's clearly above your head in dealing with this unwieldy tenant.

Good luck and keep us posted regarding the outcome.

If it "takes a long time" to evict someone, that should inspire you to stop wasting time by waiting to file for eviction. Every day you wait is a day wasted. Doing illegal things to try and take this into your own hands will cause you to lose even more money than you already are losing in lost rent.

Red alert here... 

Look up "constructive eviction." You are right in line with the definition.

I am going to suggest professional advice on two counts: (1) a good landlord tenant lawyer (or a general small business practitioner that maybe works for small landlords, has rentals, or has experience in the area)....(2) maybe try professional property management for now as you learn more about the rules and get some more ideas and tools to screen tenants.

I've worked in a law office where we have dealt with evictions. In California. Start the process - in the end it'll be shorter than anything else you're trying to do. Have the eviction notices served by a law office, though you can of course draft them yourself. it'll make a stronger impact that way. If the tenant has not moved out within the 30 or 60 days, the process is actually not that long anymore. You file for an unlawful detainer in court, serve her and she has 5 days to answer. If she doesn't - default for you, have the Sheriff go over and move her out. If she does answer, ask for a court date which is usually set within a week and - I am assuming you are in the right here - same thing, take your judgment and have the Sheriff move her out.

And yes, it is illegal for you to go in and start taking her appliances ... even if you own them. If you are really unlucky she will end up suing YOU as a slumlord and she may win!

As others have said, yes, it's illegal to take things out of her house like that.

For one thing, they are part and parcel of what you rented to her.  You own the house or apartment itself, too, and you can't just show up and move her out entirely, either.  You also can't change the locks.

For another, CA has very, very strict rules for how landlords must handle entry to the tenant's property - I don't remember the exact numbers, but I think it's at least 48 hours notice you've got to give, unless it's an emergency.  Give her 48 hours notice that you've coming to take her appliances and other goods, and you will likely be met at the door by the cops.  Or her cousin Bubba.

And I do mean the *tenant's* property. The state views a rented residence as essentially belonging to the tenant once you lease it to them.  They acquire the right to "quiet enjoyment" of it, free of landlord interference, more or less the same as if they owned it - and *you* would be trespassing.

It is also required that you provide a "habitable" environment.  If you remove major appliances without replacing them *while* she is a tenant, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the "uninhabitable" argument could be used against you.  You don't have to supply appliances at the outset, but once you do, they are part of the contract.

I think that Kadidia's assessment that she "might" sue you is extremely optimistic.  I'd just about take the likelihood of that outcome to the bank, especially if she is aware of how tenant-friendly the state is.  If you've been in CA for any length of time, too, I'm sure that you are well aware of how lawsuit-happy a lot of people are to start with.

The state is *so* tenant-friendly that that was one of the big reasons I chose to sell my house there when I left rather than rent it out.

I'm not a lawyer but a person who once faced some real issues with a landlord making frequent unauthorized entry, among other things, so I had to learn the law very quickly.

No rent for two months and the eviction process isn't in the works, yet? 

If the process had started when she missed the first rent payment, it would almost be over by now.  You might want to start the eviction process with the notice to pay rent or quit and see how she responds...she might just move out..and if not, follow-up and get her out of the property.

I don't think you can start removing items from the property...you'll likely get it hot waters!!

When we had rental properties, we would IMMEDIATELY post the notice to pay rent or quit when the tenant missed the due date and the grace period for the monthly rental..that usually kept tenants on their toes...pay or get evicted!!!