I'm a tenant in San Diego, California and my rental unit is an older, stand alone raised foundation apartment.
My questions are:
2. Are there any actions I can take to get the owner to provide proper 24-hour notice?
1. I am in a 1 year lease, if I choose to give 30 days notice, will I be able to break the lease and get my deposit and not be charged additional months rent?
The privacy issue:
The owner listed the property for sale in Feb 2019 and did not notify the residents. I suspected something was going on when contractors began showing up daily on the property, inspecting my roof, looking through my windows, entering my crawl space and knocking on my door asking to look at the unit. All of this with absolutely no notice. On one occasion a few weeks ago, two men came to my door and said they needed to inspect my heater due to the ventilation being installed incorrectly. I didn't know who they were and was given no notice, so I told them they could not enter. They kept asking and told me it would be quick and they wouldn't tell anyone. They continued to pressure me until I closed the door.
I have a raised foundation apartment and the original floor heater has been removed, so essentially I have a big hole in my floor with a grate and some black paper under it. I can have a clear conservation with anyone in the crawl space from inside my apartment since there is no real separation between the two. The owner is conducting maintenance to my foundation, which I found out by contacting the realtor since the management company will not let me know what's going on. I constantly have contractors entering my crawl space with no notice and not as much as a knock on my door. For example, yesterday I was eating lunch in my kitchen and out of nowhere I heard drilling and talking under my floor. It was so loud it sounded like someone was inside my apartment. I had to confront the men and ask who they were and what were they doing. They said I should have been given notice and I told them I wasn't. I have documented each privacy violation through email with the property management. They apologize and admit it is an invasion of privacy and say it won't happen again. They claim it is the property owner doing this without their knowing.
The privacy issue began before the property was for sale. When I moved in 4 months ago, the unit had no working heater. After I placed a request, a lock box was put on my door and contractors began coming by to quote the installation of a new heater. This is totally understandable as I was the one who put in the maintenance request. However, I soon realized that each of these contractors were given the keycode to the lock box and I was never given any notice of the appointments. On one particular day, a few weeks after I placed the request, I was in my living room doing yoga and a man unlocked my door and opened it. He apologized profusely and said he assumed the unit was vacant as he had never been given full access to a home just to quote a job. The lock box stayed on my unit for a few months.
The property management company is out of San Francisco and handles everything remotely (hence the lock box). I like my place and I'm hoping the sale happens fast and the new owner/management company are not as unethical (I have heard many stories from the other tenants of illegal behavior from the property management company).
1. read your lease very carefully. typically, you have signed on for 12 months, and are bound to pay for 12 months whether you live there or not. breaking a lease typically results in a "fine" which will be spelled out in the lease; it can be your security deposit + 1 month's rent, or more. and if you leave you could be legally evicted for failure to pay the rest of the lease, making it fairly impossible to apply for another rental for several years.
2. that's awful that your privacy is being violating over and over again. i would definitely send a firmly worded letter to the Property Manager, via USPS with return receipt. outline all the violations, and include copies of your emails. you may have to seek legal advice if the PM cannot control the Owner. there are typically local Landlord-Tenant Legal Services that are usually free or discounted to ask a few questions - Google or contact the local Bar association.
3. if you haven't had heating all this time, you may want to ask for a discount on your rent, and have it attached to the Lease in writing. heating is typically required by law, but check your local Landlord/Tenant rules. never withhold part of the rent or you could be evicted.
Have a lawyer send a written notice to owner and PM. Make it clear that another infraction will result in charges. Do not make idle threaes. Be preared to follow through.
Hi @Heather Mcguffin .I'm a multi-family real estate agent in San Diego. I'm pretty sure I know exactly who your PM is. Those lockbox companies are the worst and I'm mind boggled any owner would choose that type of company. That said, two local companies sold out to one of those within the last year so some owners got stuck. Regardless, notice to enter the unit is a must, notice of work being done on the building is more of a courtesy and it's not required to notice the tenant if the building goes up for sale. Have you contacted the current owner directly to let them know what's going on? Also, when the formal inspection happens on the property, which they will need to give notice on, I would make sure you are there. This will give you an opportunity to convey these concerns to the current owner and also ask what the intentions are of the new owner. If they will be using new PM, they will generally be part of the inspection as well. Feel free to DM if you have some other questions. I'm sorry you are dealing with all of this!