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CalAttorney2
CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 10238
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing both landlords and tenants in residential and commercial property disputes.
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I've been living in my rental .5 years. I had a 1-year

Customer Question

I've been living in my rental for 2.5 years. I had a 1-year lease at move-in. The landlord did not renew the lease but at the end of the 2nd year, wanted me to sign a new lease (I later found out) to show the bank to refinance his mortgage. I told him I may not be there a whole year so he said he would back date it. Throughout the time I've been here, they did not do needed repairs & replacements, making the place unlivable (no working oven since Day 1; garage door opener on original lease, but refused to give me one; gaps around all doors & window screens, causing critter infestations & preventing cooling & ventilation, etc etc). So when they asked me to sign the new lease, I asked them to give me a signed itemized statement of repairs to be done by a licensed professional. They said they would do all repairs & give me a working stove/oven & garage door opener after I signed the lease. When I asked them to include garage door opener on new lease & give me the signed statement before I signed the lease, they threatened me w/ eviction if I didn't sign the lease, & have sent me a 60 day notice to vacate through an attorney. (1) Does this fall under the category of retaliatory eviction? (2) Can I get an extension to be able to stay 2.5 more months? (3) Can I get any monetary compensation for harassment, & for not having use of garage & oven & uninhabitable conditions throughout my tenancy? (4) How should I proceed?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.
Dear Customer, thank you for using our service. I would like to assist you today. Responses may have a short delay for review and research.
One key point - a 60 day notice is not an "eviction," it is a "termination of the lease" an eviction is a very different process in which the tenant has done something to violate the lease terms and is being terminated "for cause." This is going to be important when you are looking for a new place to live, as you currently have a "clean" rental history. If you fail to vacate within 60 days, or get an extension, then the landlord will file an unlawful detainer, and you will be evicted.
(1) Does this fall under the category of retaliatory eviction?
"Sort of" - you have a couple of "habitability" issues, but you haven't made any complaint to the public health department, or filed any action against the landlord. Also the landlord is not evicting you (see above). So while I think you have a claim that you could raise ("retaliatory eviction" is a defense to an unlawful detainer) I don't think you want to go that route.
(2) Can I get an extension to be able to stay 2.5 more months?
Yes, call the landlord's attorney and see if you can stay 90 days instead of 60, it is a reasonable request. But please see my note on "confirmation letters" below.
(3) Can I get any monetary compensation for harassment, & for not having use of garage & oven & uninhabitable conditions throughout my tenancy?
No, habitability damages are dealt with on a prospective basis - so the law deals with these matters in an effort to get landlords to fix problems rather than compensating tenants for past issues (now if you find yourself in court, judges typically will find a way to take this into consideration, but it isn't something you can claim money damages for). See this link for habitability laws in California: http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/legal_guides/lt-8.shtml
(4) How should I proceed?
Keep in mind, this forum is limited to "general legal information only" we cannot give you legal instruction or formal advice. But start with direct negotiations. If that fails, you can try mediation - contact your local bar association and request referrals to mediators, a third party neutral can often help you reach a mutually agreeable resolution. Use the bar association's referrals to contact a mediator or two, the mediator will then contact the other party to set up a mediation session, and you can go from there - hopefully resulting in a formal or written settlement agreement, and save yourself the time and expense of litigation.
Confirmation letters: Keep written records of all communications - so if you speak to someone by phone, promptly send a follow up "confirmation letter" summarizing your conversation, who you spoke to, when, and any agreements you reached. Keep copies of your outgoing correspondence, as well as anything that you receive.
Here are two links to helpful resources for California Landlord Tenant law:
http://www.dca.ca.gov/publications/landlordbook/index.shtml
and
http://www.courts.ca.gov/selfhelp-housing.htm

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