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CalAttorney2, Lawyer
Category: Real Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I am a civil litigation attorney with experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses and others in real estate matters.
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We have a rental property in Santa Clara, CA. Our tenant had

Customer Question

We have a rental property in Santa Clara, CA. Our tenant had signed two year's lease but has given a notice to terminate within 13 months in the contract. As stated in the early termination clause, we are asking tenant to pay for the lost rent, realtor fees, advertising expense and painting. Tenant is questioning the cost of the realtor fees($3000) in addition to painting cost. Does tenant have a right to question who we hire as a realtor ? She also said that since the house was not painted before she moved in hence she won't pay for the painting of home. I want to know what legal stand I could take to address this situation
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
You can charge for the actual costs that are incurred.Your tenant is liable for unpaid rent from the time they vacate, until the end of the lease term, or until a new tenant is found to take on the lease, whichever comes first. Most courts will limit this to no more than 3 months rent, but local rental conditions will be taken into consideration regarding length of vacancy, how much effort the landlord puts into releasing the unit (they must take "reasonable" efforts).The tenant is responsible for the actual cost of re-renting the unit.This means if you actually pay the realtor $3k to find a new tenant, that is acceptable (but that is a lot of money to shell out to find a new tenant mid-summer). Check around, and make sure you are not hiring someone that is so far over market rate that the tenant is going to be able to show that you are charging excessively (you don't have to go with the cheapest firm in town, but if you choose to hire the most exclusive firm you cannot expect the tenant to pay for it (an exception would be for a true luxury home).With the painting, you cannot charge the tenant to leave the unit better than when you leased it to them. If it wasn't freshly painted when they moved in, you cannot charge them to paint it when they move out.(I understand that you probably have a lot of this written into your lease contract, but your lease is overreaching, and you are going to have a hard time enforcing this in court if push comes to shove).A good resource for landlords (and tenants) in California is the California Attorney General's Landlord/Tenant handbook, it has information, legal authorities, and descriptions for all phases of the rental relationship, and can be helpful, both for this situation, and with future tenants.
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thanks. We had painted our home in 2013 April and the tenant moved in on June 2014
Do we have a legal stand to claim for painting expense ?
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.
You can charge for painting if the tenant damaged the paint. You cannot charge for paint simply because it has been a year (the landlord actually assumes the cost of repainting due to age, not the tenant). But if the tenant's occupancy damaged the paint "beyond normal wear and tear" (these are the key words for any security deposit claim), then you can charge for it.(The link above has an excellent section on security deposit claims, together with examples, to help you with paint, and all other fixtures and surfaces in the home).