Landlord needs advice...

6 Replies

I recently cut down a large Black Walnut tree in a patio area located in the backyard of my rental property. The tree was infested with ivy high and low and though it provided privacy, I felt sooner or later it would cause bigger problems. The tree damaged another tree on the way down but the brush has been hauled off and things cleaned up.
Now as I see it, this is turning into a project.
No, it doesn’t look great but like any other project, you have to find the bottom.
I would like to and have started to renovate this patio area by doing some brick work. A lamp post and planters have been started and thoughts of a man made barrier for privacy are being given consideration.

The tenant is being very difficult…
All I would like to do is gain access and complete this project!
Below, please find comments by the tenant and please give me some advice!

email 1:
See attached pages 32 and 33 from the CALIFORNIA TENANTS publication by the CALIFORNIA DEPARTMENT OF CONSUMER AFFAIRS.
Specifically WHEN CAN THE LANDLORD ENTER THE RENTAL UNIT.
I got clarification on key words that apply to our situation from an attorney.
1. RENTAL UNIT means PREMISES as defined by your rental agreement.
2. To make NECESSARY means EMERGENCY repairs, ORDINANCE or BUILDING CODE compliance.
3. AGREED-UPON means that we APPROVE repairs, decorations, alterations or other improvements.
All other language is very clear about agreements, proper notification, landlord abuses and violations.
Without agreement you do not have the right to enter.

email 2:
At this time we will not agree to beginning new construction or brick work on the patio.
We will agree at a more appropriate time in the future after discussion amongst ourselves.
You can store only materials already purchased for this project under the awning on the left side of the shed.
At this time we will not agree to trimming, pruning or cutting of any more landscaping.
We will agree to cleanup of what has already been cut.
We expect discussion on securing the breach in the landscaping from unauthorized cutting.
This place looks like hell between unnecessary construction and unauthorized devastation to the landscaping.
You are clearly demonstrating that you only make it worse.
Enough is enough we must have our privacy back and no more mess.

WOW!!!
One more reason to hate California. This boggles my mind that they would be so difficult.

First, and most importantly, get YOURSELF a lawyer. They are going to say whatever they want to in order to prevent you from coming on to the property for whatever reason. My guess is you aren't going to be too happy with how your place looks when you finally DO gain access.

Second, who are they to redefine words like "necessary"? It is necessary that you finish a project that is visible to other homeowners so as to not be an eyesore; it is necessary to ensure they aren't doing drugs, harboring terrorists, keeping children sex-slaves, etc. Obviously i'm going to great extremes, but from what i gather, they wouldn't let you know if there WAS an emergency in the first place. Get yourself a good lawyer, and don't take "there's nothing we can do" for an answer.

Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

get an Attorney to send them a letter. They're full of B.S....

They'll probably tell you to take a hike, so I would ask what needs to be done to remove them. You must be able to access the property. It belongs to you. They have a possessory interest but should not be able to prevent you from entering or improving the property...

I have no idea what CA tenant-landlord law says, but here in OH I would tell the tenant I will be in the property in 3 days to make repairs. If the repairs were all outside then I wouldn't even bother telling them I was going to do the work, I would just do it.

Why are they giving you such a hassle? What have they done inside the property that they don't want you to know about?

Normally I would say play nice and explain the BENEFITS that your repairs would make, but if your tenant is reciting CA code (accurate or not) then they are way beyond this. You've got to stand firm, call a lawyer TODAY and get some advice TODAY on what you should do. Most likely you will get an answer in 15 minutes as I am sure this is well defined case law.

I hate to spoil your day, but do you realize the value of a walnut tree to specialty wood suppliers?

The tree could have been sold for about $9,000 a slab (retail, not to you...) if slab-cut with a mobile sawmill. If the tree had any crotch or burl it would be VERY valuable. So, a 24" diameter tree could have a value of about $54,000. That would be retail, and no sawyer would ever offer YOU that, but consider you could have gotten $500-4000 depending on who cut (harvested) the tree, and how much they know about the industry. Did you pay to have the ttree removed?

This info is for slab-cut. Other $$ possibilities are available for quartersawn (but more waste).

Now go kick yourself.

PS put your calculator away, I'm not telling how thick a slab is.

Im sorry for the Walnut post above...

Ok a new thought. In my state, you can give notice that the landlord is going to inspect the property. After making an appointment, you walk through. I only do this when I suspect the worst, and want to get to the bottom of it. I have never discovered anything by doing so. But I think it may cause these people to be very careful with whatever their "current problem" is. Especially since they now know that you are a very serious landlord.

Another thought.
If they so strongly oppose improvements, just wait until they move out. Why bother fighting this crap? The patio will still be there, and you have evidence that they preferred for you not to do it.

After all, in rentals, you are looking to spend the least that the tenants can ruin (and they will ruin the most they can).

I've never rented to people, though I have rented from them. I live in Texas, so I'm a little familiar with some civil law from these parts. What I've always gone with is that the renter has essentially the same right to privacy as if he owned it. If the owner provided for random inspections in the contract, that's one thing. But just because you own it doesn't give you free access -no matter how BS that may seem. Of course, necessary repairs must be done. There's a big differece between necessary and preferable. Personally, if they pay their bills on time, and it doesn't look like they're selling crack, who cares if they don't want you to improve it. Fix it when they leave, and then maybe you can rent it for more.

-Dean