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I have a lease in California that expires in a month. I want…

I have a lease in...
I have a lease in California that expires in a month. I want to move out but my roommate won't also sign the 30-day notice form. I tried to give my notice to the management but they said that they can't accept it unless we both sign it. After the lease expires, it will automatically go to a much much higher month-to-month rate and I don't want to be liable for paying it. Is the landlord allowed to not accept my notice and continue making me pay if I want to end my lease after it expires? If not, what legal code can I point to to prove that to them?
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Answered in 20 minutes by:
2/18/2018
QuickEasyLegalHelp
Category: Landlord-Tenant
Satisfied Customers: 200
Experience: I am a former District Attorney. I can help resolve your issue compassionately and quickly.
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I am a Landlord-Tenant Law attorney expert and a former District Attorney, and I will be helping you. Nice to meet you.

Please keep in mind that our conversation does not create an attorney-client relationship and this is for general information purposes only.

I will be answering your question with the expectation that if you are satisfied with my answer, you will give a positive rating.

I can see that you just joined Just Answer, Welcome!

You may not be familiar with how the site works. The Attorneys do not receive credit from the site for their time or with customers unless the customer provides a positive rating. We answer your questions in good faith, hoping for a good faith response regardless of whether the law is in your favor or not. If that works for you, let me know and we can proceed : )

I want to make sure I understand what you are asking:

Can your Landlord REFUSE to allow you to move out upon expiration of your lease?

Let me know which parts I got right and fill me in on the other parts and we'll go from there. Thanks!

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Hi there, that sounds good. The real question is more about payment, since I know I could leave but might still have to pay. So the question is if I give my 30-day notice, can the landlord say it's not valid without my roommate and oblige me to continue paying rent after the lease expiration date even though the lease will be expired?

Is there any way you can take a photo of your lease so I can see exactly what it says?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I'm attaching it. You can just skip probably to the two relevant sections. I've highlighted them for you - see 6. How long does my Lease run? on page 5-6 and 53. How should I provide formal legal notice to you? on page 16. Those page numbers are the ones printed at the bottom.

Got it. Allow me a few minutes to read your lease!! Stand by, I'll be back.....

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Where is the lease "summary" - referenced in #6 which will give me the dates of your tenancy?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Here it is

Okay, now that I've got that, I'll start reading again - be right back

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Okay I see #6 and I understand about the notice. You are absolutely correct that written notice must be delivered or the lease will roll into a month-to-month lease automatically.

The concern however is this paragraph:

9. Each of the residents is responsible (on a joint and several basis) for paying all of the rent and meeting all of the other obligations of the Residents under this Lease.

Because the lease has this paragraph in it, it makes BOTH roommates fully responsible for the lease.

It binds the two of you fully to the lease and requires BOTH of you and EACH of you to comply with the lease terms.

Is there any way your current roommate would allow you both to provide writing and terminate the lease, and then she can re-rent on March 18th?

In the alternative, can you find a replacement for your spot?

Often I find in these situations if the "staying" roommate is told that the "leaving" roommate will be finding his replacement, that is a motivation to be more cooperative.

Let me know your thoughts, I am so sorry you are in this position.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok, so when you say that both us have to comply with the lease terms I think that's a given but are you saying that the lease terms say that we both have to provide notice in order to avoid the automatic month-to-month rollover? I am trying to find a replacement but wanted to know what my situation would be in case I don't find someone by the end of the lease.

You know what, I have never run into this situation before....I have researched everywhere I can and I cannot find a situation similar to this in California. I am still searching but if I cannot find anything, then I will opt out to allow another expert to help you. And I will follow the question to make sure you are satisfied (and so I learn what the answer is - because this one has stumped me!) Give me a few more minutes to keep researching and I'll let you know what I find. If it were a weekday, I would call the court for you, but being Saturday I am limited there).

There is nothing in your lease that requires that you both give notice, but the way the lease is written it does not allow just one party to act. Let me see if I find anything else....be back....

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok, if you can't tell for sure it might be better to ask someone else but let me know.

Of course - I would only advise you if I were 100% certain.

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What happened when you tried to deliver notice to the LL?

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I found this article from the LA Times which is similar to your situation:

Question: I live in Los Angeles and my roommate and I are nearing the end of a three-year lease. At the end of the lease, I intend to move. My roommate wants to remain on a month-to-month basis with his fiancee, who will share the rent.

What do I have to do to remove myself from any future liability with the landlord? Because my roommate paid the entire security deposit, I don't need anything from the landlord. Would a letter to the landlord declaring my intention to vacate be enough?

Answer: As a precaution, it would be wise to send the landlord a written 30-day notice of your intention to vacate. Get a confirmation of receipt of the notice if possible. Otherwise, keep a copy of your letter.

As you say in your letter, your contract automatically rolls over to a month-to-month agreement under California law if your roommate remains in the apartment at the end of the lease term.

But your roommate should know that the lease he signed probably specifies that he must get the landlord's written permission before bringing in a new roommate. He would be wise to talk to the landlord before the lease expires to get that straightened out.

Also, you may not be aware that security deposits are not refundable from landlords until tenancies are over. Therefore, even if you had paid half of the security deposit, the landlord would not be required to refund any portion of it to you upon your vacating the unit because the tenancy would not be over at that point.

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Is your roommate intending on staying there by herself or getting a new roommate?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
When I tried to give it to them they just they can't accept it unless both of us sign. She is trying to get another roommate but I'm not confident she'll find someone before the lease ends. My concern is that if the landlord doesn't have my notice and she ends up not finding someone, I'll have to pay this month-to-month rent which is double the regular rent. That article doesn't seem to say whether one person giving notice is enough to get them out of future liability. I can just leave the notice with them anyways but I want to know if the landlord will have the right to charge me after 30 days.

First off, don't just "leave" the notice with them, you will need to mail it to them, certified mail, return receipt requested (so you have proof of delivery) to the community address listed on the summary - Ingraham street.

Yes, I agree that the issue is whether they can refuse your notice. In 24+ years I have never heard of this situation, and I cannot seem to find any resources that I feel comfortable leaning on, so I do not feel confident advising you here.

I am going to opt out, so another attorney can take it from here.

You won't be charged anything and your question will be open for another expert to answer. I wish you all the best!

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PS - I reached out to another Landlord Tenant expert on Just Answer to see if they can take your question so it gets properly answered.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
ok thanks!

Of course, and as I said, I will continue following this to make sure your question is answered. I'm super curious about the answer as well.

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I'm still searching....I found an older case, Schmitt v. Felix, 157 Cal. App. 2d 642 (1958), which says that where a lease has converted to month-to-month status, any individual tenant can terminate their obligation upon 30-day notice. Which seems to support your case in allowing you to vacate.

Here is the link: https://law.justia.com/cases/california/court-of-appeal/2d/157/642.html

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Hi there, I just got a chance to read over that case. It looks promising. I was wondering if 1) you thought that this would apply in the situation I'm in where the lease is not yet month-to-month but will be starting as month-to-month in <30 days and 2) if you were still thinking of asking another expert.

I did ask another expert, right away, but I haven't heard back. And your question has been "live" (meaning it is in the pool for the other experts to pick up if they wish to) ever since I opted out. I am guessing this has stumped everyone, but I can't say for sure.

YES, I DO think that case would apply.

I want to help you, but unless you click a rating, 5 stars, then I don't get any credit for the time I spend with you. I spent over an hour and a half last night searching everywhere for some case law or a statute to apply to your situation, but didn't find anything! I want to continue helping, but I can't do it for free. I totally get your position!

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok thanks
Customer reply replied 4 months ago
I appreciate your research. Let me know if you find out anything else

Absolutely! Thank you for rating. I am sitting here brainstorming who I can reach out to on Tuesday to get you some answers. (In all my years on Just Answer I have never come across a question I could not answer! So it's driving me bananas...)

I am not giving up though! I give you my word that I will continue to search and, possibly, I would like to call your management company on Tuesday to see if I can work something out for you (no promises that they will acquiesce, but I would like to try...I can be pretty convincing *wink*)

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I just called an attorney-colleague. He is a litigation master with 57 years of experience and I try not to call in too many favors, but this one really has me stumped! He said he totally understands why the LL would require ALL to vacate or NONE to vacate. He agreed with me that this is an issue between the roommates and if you vacate, then you either have to find a replacement for your half, or your roommate has to agree to take on the responsibility of the full lease. (which is what I was driving at last night when I asked if you could work this out with her).

Do you think there is any possibility of finding a replacement for your half?

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok that seems to be going back on what that case said... He said he understands why the landlord wants that but did understand the situation that the lease is expiring? He's saying that actually the landlord can hold me liable to continue paying even though I give my notice and the lease is expiring? I don't know about finding a replacement, I'm working on that but if the landlord doesn't have my notice and I don't find someone by then I know I definitely will be on the hook.

His position actually was that if the lease rolled over into a month-to-month tenancy, then the most you would be on the hook for is the 1st month's rent. (because you would give 30 days notice as soon as the lease becomes a month-to-month).

But I reminded him that the LL's position is ALL or NONE. Which would seem to apply again to the M-to-M lease as well.

I know the lease expires (and rolls into M-to-M on 3/18). So your 30 days to give notice is now. Would you want me to call the leasing company on Tuesday and see what I can learn?

The problem is going to be between you and your roommate. You vacate and she is left holding the bag for the full amount. Which she is not going to pay, so she is going to have to come after you. She would have to take you to small claims court and you would show that you sent notice of your intention to terminate the lease by certified mail, return receipt requested (so you have proof of delivery) to the community address listed on the summary - Ingraham street.

It would be up to the Judge to decide how to apportion the owed rent....

BUT NOBODY wants to get into all of that.

So if you would like me to try to get some further info from the leasing co on Tuesday (on my own time, my own dime) I can do that for you.

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By the way, I have reached out to Just Answer's legal moderator to see if I can get some assistance with answering this DEFINITIVELY for you.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok. Thanks for that summary. It would be amazing if you could call them. I think that what I should do then is try to go to the office Tuesday morning and get someone to give me an official document saying they received my notice. If they decide to not actually count it I can dispute that with them later if it becomes relevant but it sounds like I should try to get them to at least take it from me and give me a document saying they received it or else send certified mail if they won’t. And you can let me know what you find out from your call.

Have a look at this, I think I may have just found something that WILL HELP!

http://www.landlordstation.com/blog/explanation-section-1946-california-civil-code/

See where it says: If a tenant wishes to terminate the agreement then the landlord doesn’t have a choice but to accept it.

Go into the leasing office and cite California Civil Code Section 1946. Tell the LL that they have a legal obligation to accept your termination of the lease. Give your notice in writing at that time, as well as in writing as I have specified above.

I think that will be helpful!

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Go in on Tuesday morning like you suggested ARMED with this legal code and tell them they HAVE TO accept your termination.

Circle back and let me know how that goes.

If you want me to call, I will need all of the contact info.

I would send the document certified mail, return receipt requested NO MATTER WHAT. This is such a squirrely situation, that I would not trust it to chance. There is no arguing with USPS. Courts accept their word at face value.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok that sounds good we’ll be in touch

Super, I'll be waiting to hear from you on Tuesday (please note, we are on different time zones, so if you reach out early in CA, there may be a delay in my response)

Be polite, but firm.

Let them know you spoke to a lawyer and the law is on your side: If a tenant wishes to terminate the agreement then the landlord doesn’t have a choice but to accept it.

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The management complex must allow you to terminate the lease (citing code 1946) and if your roommate wants to continue living there, she may begin a new lease with them. (And knowing the month-to-month was going to be "much much more" (your words) a new lease should be an improvement for her.

Clearly still working on this for you.....

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Thanks for the follow up. I read the actual code that article referred to (https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/codes_displaySection.xhtml?lawCode=CIV&sectionNum=1946) and it unfortunately doesn't use the same phrasing as that blog article saying landlords must accept notice... it's pretty generic and doesn't mention anything about co-lessees so I'm not sure if I can cite it but I can try. The court case seemed to be more clear-cut, although it is ambiguous whether that applies if the lease is not yet in the month-to-month period.

I disagree with your reading of the statute.

Here is the exact quote:

A hiring of real property, for a term not specified by the parties, is deemed to be renewed as stated in Section 1945, at the end of the term implied by law unless one of the parties gives written notice to the other of his or her intention to terminate the same.

Because it says "unless one of the parties gives written notice" AND THERE IS NO SECONDARY CLAUSE of (for example....) and is accepted by the LL. Or and is deemed to be accepted in writing....OR unless the LL denies such termination.

I stand by my last post and my interpretation of the California Civil Code.

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Customer reply replied 4 months ago
Ok, well that's good, I trust your interpretation.

I await your update on Tuesday. Be firm.

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