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I wanted to ask a question about an action my landlord and…

Hi, I wanted to...

Hi, I wanted to ask a question about an action my landlord and his wife took this week. I live in a 500 sq ft, 1 bedroom unit in Monterey, CA. The informal lease I was given (just a typed up few paragraphs by the landlord) states that only one occupant is allowed by order of the City of Monterey. The lease, however, does not address anything whatsoever about having guests. I occasionally have people visit, and have almost always informed my landlord prior to it. There has never been a problem. My boyfriend sometimes visits as well, and they have been very welcoming of that as well. This past week, though, I received a letter from my landlord that if my boyfriend (and only my boyfriend, this applies to no other guest) stays more than 5 days, then my lease is terminated. When I asked about it, the landlord got very defensive and said that anyone else may stay but that I better start looking if the boyfriend stays more than 5 days. I did the math, and my boyfriend has only stayed with me more than 5 days two or three times, and the landlord was fully aware of it each time. In addition, I have lived in this apartment for 3 years and two months. Of that time, my boyfriend has visited a total of 55 days. When I again tried to ask about this and show that I felt my boyfriend was not "here all the time," as I was told during the conversation, the landlord said he would not be pushed around and had his wife write another letter stating that no one, except my mother and grandparents for some reason, is allowed more than 5 days. This has never been an issue before (and I extremely rarely have people over for 5 days), and I was very hurt and confused about it. The landlord's wife also kept stating that only one occupant and one car was allowed in the rental agreement, and that I was lucky they even let me have guests more than one night. The landlord also said at one point that they've been gracious with me this whole time because having a guest more than 2 nights would get you kicked out in "most rental agreements." I do not feel that this is correct, and it's all very upsetting to me. As I mentioned, I rarely have anyone stay for a 5 day period anyway, but I was very hurt and confused over them singling out my boyfriend, how has never caused any disturbance or complaint over these three years. I'm afraid to try to question further because I don's want them to just decide to terminate my lease, as they seemed upset that I even questioned this to begin with, but is this violating renter's rights in any way? Thank you for your time.

Lawyer's Assistant: Because laws vary from place to place, can you tell me what state the property is in?

California - the City of Monterey

Lawyer's Assistant: Has any paperwork been filed?

No

Lawyer's Assistant: Anything else you want the lawyer to know before I connect you?

I don't believe so Thanks!

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Answered in 1 minute by:
7/8/2018
Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,316
Experience: Licensed to practice before state and federal court
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Hello! I am a licensed attorney, admitted to practice in state and federal court. I have a nearly 100% satisfaction rating (click here for more info) so all that means is that you can count on me to help today.

Did the landlord reference anything with CA law, Monterrey law, or something in the agreement that suggests they have the authority to enforce a rule regarding guests?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
No, they have only stated that the lease could be terminated by an order from the City of Monterey should there be more than one occupant living in the unit. They have never made any comment or restrictions regarding having guests over. This was all out of the blue with no previous discussion, and they have never made any attempt to tell me they were unhappy with me having guests in the three years that I've been here. When I asked about this, they kept saying that only one occupant with one car is allowed, and I kept trying to explain that my boyfriend is not living here and is just visiting when he comes, which has only been a total of 55 days out of a time frame of 3 years and 2 months!

Ok, if that is the case, then the landlord does not have any authority to limit your guests. The general rule of thumb is anyone staying beyond 14 days consecutively is considered a tenant; however, unless you agreed to a timeframe, and if your boyfriend or other guests don't stay beyond 14 days, then the landlord doesn't have any legal authority to limit your guests or the limit of their stay, particularly if it's under two weeks.

Accordingly, you have some options:

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Basically, you could sue the landlords for breach of contract for putting in terms of the agreement regarding guests that you didn't agree to.

A breach of contract just simply means that one party was obligated to perform and they have either have not performed or have said that they will not perform. This applies even when there was no written agreement, but just an oral agreement between the parties. Typically, the aggrieved party is entitled to be returned to the same position they were in before the breach.

This means that you have a couple of options.

  1. The quicker, informal option is to send a demand performance of the agreement you had. There’s a site that I’ve used in the past where you can find a good template for advising of a breach of contract. It's a bit easier (and cheaper) than going through litigation and I have seen it be effective in the past. This website is also pretty cool because you can download the forms right after purchasing. Click here to get started.

  2. If this doesn’t work, sadly, the only other option is to either go through an informal mediation or file a lawsuit in your local court. If you’ve already sent a bunch of letters, then the truth is this is the only way to compel them to do anything.

What other questions did you have for me today that I can help you out with:-)?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Is there actually any CA law giving this time frame of when a guest becomes a tenant? I ask because my landlord said that typically a guest can stay no more than 2 days, and then his wife told me that I'm lucky they've let me have people more than one night. I would love to present them with some actual facts showing my rights, but I'm having trouble finding exact time frames online.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Also, while there was no mention of guests in my lease, they have informed me of this 5 day rule through a letter. They never had a problem with my guests before, but does this letter, which they electronically signed and data now hold up? The lease is not a formal document, and this is therefore not a clause to it or anything, it's just an informative letter, I guess. Do I just have to comply at this point?

No. There's no statute that says this specifically under CA law. You can look under the civil code to see for yourself and I haven't seen this myself in my handling of hundreds of these cases. The lease doesn't have to be a formal document as any document that relates the terms are what you and the other party are bound to; nothing extra. You don't have to comply and any evictions would be unlawful.

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Did you have any other questions for me today? If not, were you satisfied with my service today:-)?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
I see. I wasn't sure if the letter they gave me out of the blue that stipulates how long I can have guests now is now a binding part of the lease, even though it wasn't outlined when I signed three years ago. When I tried to ask and talk about it, they became very angry with me and said I was lucky they let me have anyone over, and kept stating that the lease is for one occupant... even though I kept trying to say my visitors are guests, not occupants. "As you well know the agreement was for ONE person to occupy the apartment. (one person, one car.) Over the last 3 years we feel we have been more than gracious in letting you have 1 or more persons stay overnight. It has become apparent to us that we need to now stipulate that no person may spend 5 nights in any one month with you at Grace Street. Should this occur, the rental agreement will be null and void and you will have to vacate the apartment. Your cleaning deposit would be returned minus the cost of necessary cleaning expenses. As Dave told you we would make a rare & infrequent exception to this rule only for your mother or grandparents." Legally do I have to just accept this recent letter as part of the lease now?

No. You don't have to accept anything outside the boundaries of your agreement, really. I don't think that they have a legal leg to stand on

How else can I Help you today?

Legal Eagle
Legal Eagle, Lawyer
Category: Legal
Satisfied Customers: 14,316
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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Ok, thank you. I guess I'll try to keep negotiating with them on this. They said if I don't like it then I should start looking elsewhere, but I didn't feel like they had a right to do that. I appreciate your time greatly. I guess those are my only questions for now. I'm just not sure how to approach this still. Thank you for everything.

You bet! Best of luck

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