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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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I leased a property to a family that operated a Horse Ranch

Customer Question

I leased a property to a family that operated a Horse Ranch for 5 years. They had a worker living in the house on the property. The Horse Ranch failed, and vacated the property. A person called me and said they were the person living in the house and wanted to know if they could stay in the house. I told him, Ricardo is his name, that I am in the process of selling the property for the owner, and I could not make any commitments to him. He asked if he could stay temporarily. Believing that he was actually the person that was working for the Horse Ranch, I told him If he keeps the gate locked, and no one else comes on the property and he keeps the weeds down and pays me by the first, he could stay temporarily, but would have to vacate with a 30 day notice. He agreed. He did not pay on the first. He called me on the 3rd and asked if he could pay part of the rent in a few days. I told him NO, and that he did not do what we agreed to and that he would have to vacate the property. 2 weeks later he is still on the property, and has been caught stealing expensive metal from the property. I have the Police involved at this point. I then find out from the Horse Family that they do NOT no any Ricardo. The person that was in the house and worked for them was Oscar Munoz. How should I legally handle this situation?
Jim Leininger ***@******.*** (###) ###-####
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.

Dear Customer,

You need to continue working with law enforcement to deal with the theft.

At the same time, you need to work to terminate the tenancy that was created. I am outlining the process below, and will give you some links to assist.

As the individual has committed a crime (theft of property), as well as non-payment of rent, this gives you 2 separate grounds for 3 day notices to quit (I recommend serving 2 separate 3 day notices at the same time).

Terminating a tenancy-

1) Notice: The first step in any termination is giving notice, the landlord can simply give notice that they no longer want the tenant to live there (this is usually 30 days, or 60 days, and it can be done for no reason whatsoever, there is no fault, and while the tenant must relocate, they are not being "evicted" and there is no blemish on their rental history), they can give a "notice to pay or quit" (usually 3 day or 5 day depending on the state, and the tenant has this amount of time to pay rent that they missed or move out), "notice to "cure or quit" (the tenant has breached the lease - broken something, noisy, etc. and must stop it or fix it within the notice period, again 3 days, 5 days, or 10 days), or a "notice to quit" (this is a 3 day or 5 day notice that says the tenant has messed up so badly they can do nothing but move out within the notice period - there is no chance to "cure" - this often happens when there is illegal activity on the property).

2) Unlawful detainer/forcible entry and detainer (this is the legal proceeding where the landlord goes to court and sues the tenant to get possession - the tenant has an opportunity to appear and defend the action, common defenses include improper notice, breach of the lease (such as failure to maintain the property - "inhabitable conditions"). If the tenant answers the complaint, the parties can take "discovery" from one another and get additional information before a court trial before a judge.

3) A judgment of possession/writ of eviction - if the landlord wins the trial, they get a judgment of possession and the court will issue a "writ of eviction."

4) Forcible eviction - this happens when the Sheriff or Constable serves the writ of eviction - some jurisdictions give a courtesy notice the day or two before the eviction, others do not, but the end result is the sheriff overseeing the landlord's movers removing all of the tenant's possessions from the property and placing them on the curb, and the tenants are forcibly removed from the property. At that point, the landlord can change the locks and the tenant can no longer return (They have been "evicted").

Resources in California:

California Landlord/Tenant Handbook (published by the California Attorney General) - gives you the substantive law and information on the underlying issues:

California Courts self help (housing/eviction) - gives you the procedure to follow and all of the court forms you will need:

3 day notice to pay or quit:

3 day notice (other than non-payment):

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
you are saying that even though this guy lied to me regarding he was the person renting the house from the Horse ranch, he still gets 30 days to vacate? Where are our rights?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.

Dear Customer,

That is NOT what I said.

Please review my post above. "As the individual has committed a crime (theft of property), as well as non-payment of rent, this gives you 2 separate grounds for 3 day notices to quit (I recommend serving 2 separate 3 day notices at the same time)."

I also gave you links, along with forms to use.