Sunday, January 25, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Without a lease, how do I remove these non-paying tenants in my Suisun house?

By
From page HSR2 | April 19, 2014 |

Q:  My grandmother passed away last year and I inherited a little house in Suisun City. It was the house my grandmother lived in until she had to go to a care facility. At that time we turned it into a rental. The problem is we sort of lost track of managing the house and the tenants haven’t paid rent for almost a year. I tried to talk to them this week about it but they now say the deal was that they would take care of the house and don’t have to pay rent. I want to get them out of the house so I can put some paying tenants in there but I don’t know how to go about doing it. I should tell you we don’t have any written lease agreement with the tenants but I can’t imagine they can stay there legally without paying rent.

A:  Well, they can stay there legally without paying rent as long as you let them.

There are two different, although related, issues here.

The first is figuring out if you can prove what the agreement between you and the tenants was in the first place. That’s a decision you have to make before you can go to step two, the eviction.

There’s nothing wrong, albeit not particularly wise, about renting a house to someone with an oral agreement. If the deal is they’ll pay $1,500 per month and they can live there on a month-to-month basis, then you’ve formed a contract that is enforceable in court. You don’t even have to shake hands on it.

The problem occurs when you do go to court and try to prove what the deal was.

I’m not clear from your email if the tenants had been paying rent and then stopped at some point, or whether they never started paying.

With oral leases, the way the parties prove what the rent was supposed to be is through the history of the tenant paying a certain amount. We call it “course of conduct” and it is admissible to show the existence of, and the terms of, the contract.

Complicating the issue from your perspective is that mere fact that we’re in California, the king of the consumer protection states. Here, the tenant is the consumer and the laws are designed to protect the consumer from you the landlord.

That means it would be up to you to prove what the contract really was. Absent any proof from you, the tenants could win their argument.

If the tenants had been paying over a long course of time and then stopped, you’d have a much better case.

Now you have to move to the next step to actually get them out.

The beginning of most eviction processes is to give the required written notices to the tenant. That starts the countdown towards eviction.

If a tenant doesn’t pay their rent, the landlord gives them a three-day notice to pay rent or quit. In other words, they have three days to bring their rent current or leave. After three days they lose the chance to stay there and an eviction lawsuit, called an “unlawful detainer,” can be filed.

However, if you can’t prove they were supposed to pay rent in the first place you need to give them a notice to vacate. In other words, you’re terminating their lease.

The length of the notice is either 30 or 60 days.

If the tenants have lived there for less than one year you can give them a 30-day notice. But it sounds like they’ve been there a year or longer, which requires a 60-day notice.

If they are still there at the end of the notice period you’re free to file the unlawful detainer action.

Unlawful detainers are a type of expedited proceeding in which you can get a trial in about three weeks and a Sheriff out to the property to remove the tenants a couple of weeks after that, assuming you win in court.

So, the bottom line is, if you think you can prove the non-payment of rent in court, give them the three-day notice since you’ll save four to eight weeks in the process. Additionally, you may be able to get a money judgment against them for the unpaid rent.

But if you’re not sure, you are probably safer just giving the 60 day notice and waiting.

A last word of caution here, there are numerous books on how to do your own eviction. If I could recommend the do-it-yourself approach I would, but unlawful detainers are very technical types of lawsuits owing to the speed with which they can be brought. All courts hold the landlord strictly liable for doing everything correctly. The penalty for checking the wrong box can mean going back, giving notices again, waiting through the time frames again, and then filing a whole new lawsuit.

This is one place where you want to seriously consider hiring a lawyer who does evictions.

Tim Jones is a real estate attorney in Fairfield. If you have any real estate questions you would like to have answered in this column you can contact him at SolanoScene@TJones-Law.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 5 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • JazzAzzApril 19, 2014 - 6:32 am

    Keep Us posted on this one Mr. Jones, if the letter writer keeps you posted. This one sounds really interesting :-). Those losers need to be ejected A.S.A.P., IMO.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • GemmaApril 19, 2014 - 7:48 am

    True, BUT, who "loses track of a house and the rent"? They're both wrong.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JazzAzzApril 19, 2014 - 7:51 am

    Obviously a big mix up in inheriting the home, etc.. I'd send one of them Bent nose type of guys over there (Gino Giovanni) If you know what I mean>>LOL LOL :-). They get things done QUICKER :-)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich GiddensApril 19, 2014 - 9:58 am

    This sounds so typically Suisun. Those renters tear up homes, neighborhoods, engage in nuisance and illegal activities and the overpaid cop thugs do nothing to help! California sucks!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JazzAzzApril 19, 2014 - 3:58 pm

    Rich>>I hate to day, but this would be a civil not criminal affair. The inherited owner appears to have lost track and mismanaged the entire affair. Like I said, hiring a Gino Giovanni type>>LOL>>could fix things FAST :-)

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Solano GOP welcomes address from King niece

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Nursing students take next step in higher education

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

Friend seeks justice for 1982 Vacaville homicide victim

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1, 8 Comments | Gallery

 
Scientists think Earth doomed: I disagree

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2, 1 Comment

 
Wine, chocolate pairing comes to downtown Benicia

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Local gas prices dip below $2 a gallon

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Biggest Little Car Show returns for 31st year

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Solano Safety Net Summit set in Fairfield downtown

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Be heart smart all year long

By Gerald Bourne, MD | From Page: C4

Kindergarten Readiness Roundup enlightens parents

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Weather for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B4

Crews respond to residential fire

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
CHP seeks witnesses to I-80 crash

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

Saudi monarchy transition a real economic concern

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
City seeks input on downtown plan

By Brian Miller and Karl Dumas | From Page: B7, 2 Comments

Privatized housing tenants to feel BAH pinch

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

 
Fairfield police log: Jan. 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Airman with Fairfield tie completes training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Suisun City police log: Jan. 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

Suisun City police log: Jan. 22, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A10

 
.

US / World

Abe ‘speechless’ after video claims IS hostage dead

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
It’s a hoot hanging out with owls at this Tokyo cafe

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2 | Gallery

Abortion opponents express renewed hope at SF rally

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
School: Sea otter conceived in wild is 1st born in captivity

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Man searching by plane finds body of missing son off Mexico

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Kia recalling nearly 87,000 Fortes because of fire risk

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Elon Musk’s SpaceX drops lawsuit against Air Force

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California’s public-worker payroll increased post-recession

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Avian flu confirmed in commercial turkey flock in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Boy, 13, arrested in fatal stabbing near Los Angeles school

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Company seeks rights to names of iconic Grand Canyon lodges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

GOP presses state bills limiting gay rights before ruling

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
1st attempt to lift fuselage of crashed AirAsia plane fails

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Tens of thousands protest after president resigns in Yemen

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Thousands march against socialist president in Venezuela

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Expert says King Tut mask can be restored after epoxy used

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Obama to cut short India trip to pay call on Saudi Arabia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

Rockets kill 30 in Ukrainian city as rebels launch offensive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
.

Opinion

 
Plea for return of stolen statue

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
Not all police are bad

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 6 Comments

Editorial Cartoon: Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Jan. 25, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: Jan. 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Jan. 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

The gift of a new beginning

By Dalia Adams | From Page: C3

 
Mennonite group to build houses in tornado-damaged town

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Yearbooks bring Jewish, Catholic groups together

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Horoscope Jan. 25, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

My dad can’t get over the bad first impression of my boyfriend

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Mariel Hemingway working on memoir and young adult novel

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Jonathan Franzen to appear at BookExpo America

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

25 years of trying to get it right

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Sharapova, Bouchard into quarterfinals at Australian Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

2 Williams sisters, 2 Madisons into 4th round at Aussie Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Hall of Famer Ernie Banks mourned in sports world and beyond

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Thompson’s record 3rd quarter leads Warriors past Kings

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Belichick on deflated balls: ‘We try to do everything right’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

Carroll, Belichick excelled after failing the first time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Luck-led Team Carter vs. Romo-lead Team Irvin in Pro Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

AP Explains: The Pro Bowl, unlike any other All-Star game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Abdullah leads North to 34-13 win over South in Senior Bowl

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

As Brady, Gronk know, pre-Super Bowl injury talk always big

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
AP Interview: Selig says MLB could expand internationally

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Could Super Bowl be Lynch’s finale in Seattle?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Sherman, Seahawks take the trash-talk lead over Patriots

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki’s surgically repaired hip on mend

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Buckeyes celebrate their title at Ohio Stadium

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Jimenez, Mediate share lead in Champions Tour opener

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Grace wins Qatar Masters by 1 stroke

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Matt Kuchar stumbles in, gives away Humana Challenge lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
For streaking Atlanta Hawks, it’s all about the balance

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Upstart wins $400,000 Holy Bull at Gulfstream

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Mischief Clem wins California Cup Derby in photo finish

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

World Cup of Hockey tournament set for 2016

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Hometown report: Bowling

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B3

Ashley Wagner wins 3rd US title with record-setting scores

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
Weber’s 108.5-mph blast gives him hardest shot at NHL skills

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Sports on TV for Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B5

 
This date in sports history for Jan. 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

.

Business

Anheuser-Busch to buy craft beer company

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Higher standard deduction, other breaks for older taxpayers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Booking a trip to the ER on your smartphone? It’s a breeze

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Tiny Cokes: Less guilt means more money for makers

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Recalls this week: cleaners, fitness machines

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
First Look: Apple’s HomeKit could help smarten up your home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

.

Obituaries

Thomas Clark

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sheila Margery (Smith) Luxenberg

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Don Johnson

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics