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David Siegel
  • San Diego, CA
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Need help understanding my rights as a landlord in California

David Siegel
  • San Diego, CA
Posted Jan 29 2024, 14:44

I have a tenant and they have been great for 2 years. Their lease is up on February 29. We decided it would be best to sell the property about 2 weeks ago and notified the tenant we do not plan on extending the lease. Their response was a little off the rails. They mentioned the wife has medical issues and this is causing stress and if she ends up in the hospital due to stress we will be hearing from their lawyers. 

We were working with our Real Estate Agent to do all the  little things that need to be done to sell a home and trying to coordinate those activities with the tenant. Our messaging was along the lines of 'we want to be flexible and offer you an additional month or 2 if you need it. But we need a firm move out date from you within a week'. They responded with the email saying their wife is sick and we will hear from their lawyers. We have since spoken to our tenant and they said they need time to figure things out. We responded to say that's fine try to let us know by Feb 1 with that firm move out date.

In reality this is a quid pro quo. I want them to allow us to conduct selling activities and in return we will be flexible on the move out date. If they don't offer us a reliable move out date in a timely manner and as a result our selling activities come to a standstill, I would like to plan on having them vacate the property by February 29 when their lease is up.

Has anyone dealt with a similar issue? Anyone in California? Does anyone have a good referral for legal representation for landlords? TIA for replies!

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Sean O'Keefe
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Sean O'Keefe
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Replied Jan 29 2024, 17:52

This this interesting. Thanks for sharing.

Following - I'm based in California.

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Steve Meyers
  • Real Estate Agent
  • San Diego, CA
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Steve Meyers
  • Real Estate Agent
  • San Diego, CA
Replied Jan 29 2024, 20:36

@David Siegel I would definitely recommend reaching out to an eviction attorney in case it needs to go that route, I have a few recommendations I can send over if you would like just shoot me a direct message.

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Replied Jan 30 2024, 11:10

Hi David, 

I'm sorry you're in this situation. Having a tenant relationship go south is never fun. I'm wondering if you've already served proper notice to vacate. It sounds like you "let them know" you want to sell but maybe have not formally served a 60-day notice to vacate. If you have not, I would recommend doing so. 

There is a good chance your tenant is simply panicking because they can't afford to move out.  I recommend asking your agent to do their job and chat with the tenant to find out (Something we do all the time). Maybe they can't afford to move, maybe they can't qualify, maybe they need to stay in the school district. Let's find out the real reason behind their stonewalling so that we can see how we can help. Even if the wife is sick, that doesn't negate a move if needed. 

You don't want to list the home and attempt showings with a noncooperative tenant. It will greatly affect your sales price. My goal would be to get you the most money for the sale of your home, so deal with getting the tenant out first. It will make your sale so much smoother. 

You can try cash for keys if money is an issue offer them a buyout. I know it's not ideal but a few thousand upfront could save tens of thousands on the backend. 

If you have to evict that process can be up to 45-90 days and they have the right to appeal. California is a tenant-friendly state, not landlord so it can get sticky with a difficult tenant. Especially one that knows their rights. 

Work with your realtor, and their resources to get it taken care of as smoothly as possible, and try to stay out of court and away from attorneys. 

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David Siegel
  • San Diego, CA
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David Siegel
  • San Diego, CA
Replied Jan 30 2024, 13:57
Quote from @Amara Berg:

Hi David, 

I'm sorry you're in this situation. Having a tenant relationship go south is never fun. I'm wondering if you've already served proper notice to vacate. It sounds like you "let them know" you want to sell but maybe have not formally served a 60-day notice to vacate. If you have not, I would recommend doing so. 

There is a good chance your tenant is simply panicking because they can't afford to move out.  I recommend asking your agent to do their job and chat with the tenant to find out (Something we do all the time). Maybe they can't afford to move, maybe they can't qualify, maybe they need to stay in the school district. Let's find out the real reason behind their stonewalling so that we can see how we can help. Even if the wife is sick, that doesn't negate a move if needed. 

You don't want to list the home and attempt showings with a noncooperative tenant. It will greatly affect your sales price. My goal would be to get you the most money for the sale of your home, so deal with getting the tenant out first. It will make your sale so much smoother. 

You can try cash for keys if money is an issue offer them a buyout. I know it's not ideal but a few thousand upfront could save tens of thousands on the backend. 

If you have to evict that process can be up to 45-90 days and they have the right to appeal. California is a tenant-friendly state, not landlord so it can get sticky with a difficult tenant. Especially one that knows their rights. 

Work with your realtor, and their resources to get it taken care of as smoothly as possible, and try to stay out of court and away from attorneys. 


 Thank you Amara! This has been the most valuable response to my question received so far and that's after having a couple of consultation calls with lawyers. 

What I'm wondering now, as my conversations with my tenant have become increasingly cordial with every passing day, is should I present him with the 60 day notice to vacate on February 1? They're not currently on month to month tenancy as they're still covered by their year lease until Feb 29 so does this need to be presented once month to month starts? Or can I present it now? Do people usually get these 60 day notices signed as a formality or are they reserved for difficult situations like the one I described?

During a consultation a law firm said they would review the lease and all communications between myself and tenant and draft the 60 days notice to vacate for a flat fee of $850. Is that good value? From the layman's perspective, I feel I can just go to https://eforms.com/rental/ca/california-lease-termination-le... and get this done without spending $850 but I don't know what I don't know... 

We've DIY'ed our way through plenty of dicey situations in the past. I think this may be another one we want to handle in-house.