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socallegalwork, Attorney
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 104
Experience:  Attorney and licensed real estate broker with over twelve years of experience, specializing in landlord/tenant matters.
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I am a tenant in Hawthorne California. I started renting a

Customer Question

Hello. I am a tenant in Hawthorne California. I started renting a apartment that included a car spot in a gated garage, as well as a storage spot above the car port around 2 and a half years ago, and had an issue with my car being totaled due to an accident around 2 years ago, about 6 months after I moved in. The manager at the time, about 6 months after the accident, asked if it was cool if I allowed another tenant to use the car spot while I kept my storage because they had 2 cars and since I wasn't using the spot and it was going to be temporary, I agreed. That manager has since been replaced, and I asked for my spot back as it is difficult to get to my storage above the car port, with someone elses car in the way. The new manager after 4 months finally agreed, and told that tenant that they had to move their car. NOW literally ONE WEEK LATER my new manager raised my rent by 10% and is telling me that if I don't have a car, I can't have the space despite it being included on my lease and has proceeded to have someone else begin parking there, without my permission effectively blocking my access to my own storage unit which, is included on my lease. My storage is FULL of my stuff, and I cannot fill up my small studio apartment with everything I keep in there. I REFUSE to throw it all away and give up my spot, when I signed a lease that includes that car port. What are my options? Am I in the right? I've never been late with my rent, and have been an upstanding tenant. I don't know what to do.
Submitted: 7 months ago.
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Expert:  socallegalwork replied 7 months ago.

Hello. I believe I can assist you.

First, if your lease is for a fixed term and that fixed term has not yet expired, then your landlord cannot unilaterally change the terms of your lease.

However,I am assuming your written lease was originally for a set term but that original term expired, and since then you have stayed on in the apartment. At which point your lease became "month-to-month." If this is the case, your landlord can change the terms of your lease (e.g. increase rent) provided sufficient notice is given. In California, landlords must given 30 days advance written notice.

As for removing your access to this parking spot, the same rule would apply. If the landlord wants to unilaterally change your lease to take away the designated parking spot, they have to give you 30 days written notice. There are exceptions to this rule in rent control areas, but I don't believe Hawthorne is rent controlled.

As far as options, you can assert your rights as a tenant under the lease as it exists, i.e. you have an exclusive right to use the spot. you can advise the landlord that you will sue the landlord for breach of lease if he does not return sole use of that spot. However, this is a short terms solution. As I said before, once he gives you 30 days written notice of these changes (the increased rent and parking spot) your choice will effectively be to either agree, try to negotiate further with the manager or find another apartment.

Assuming the owner and manager are not the same, you can perhaps appeal to the landlord directly on the issue. Landlords generally like paying tenants who aren't troublemakers and don't like to risk losing those tenants to new tenants who could possibly be a lot worse. The landlord may overrule the manager. The manager may prefer to try and placate the other tenant with 2 cars at your expense, but the landlord may prefer to keep you content and paying regular rent.

You are not without some bargain power, if you try to negotiate with the landlord. If you were to leave, the next tenant would almost certainly demand exclusive use of the parking spot as a condition in the lease anyway.

Good luck to you!

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