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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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Our landlord recently raised our rent by $825 per month. We

Customer Question

Our landlord recently raised our rent by $825 per month. We have struggled to pay this increase for the last 2 months (over the holiday) and have recently found a new place to live that we should be able to move into anytime after 1/21/16.
We sent a notice to vacate with our rent payment, less the deposit that we gave, as we cannot afford to pay this exorbinant amount in this final month. The notice to vacate was mailed 1/5/16 and was for a final date of 2/4/16 (at the time of writing the notice to vacate, we were unaware that we could potentially move in sooner.) and it also included what would be the prorated amount of Feb. rent for those four days.
Tonight, 1/8/16, our landlord hand delivered a 5 day notice to pay or quit to us. What are we to do? I realize for her to send an actual eviction and get the court's consent to serve a Complaint and receive an Answer will fall beyond those dates. It seems our landlord is trying to intimidate us and force payment.
I am not proud of the fact that we cannot afford our full amount of rent this month, but it is simple truth. We have been good tenants for the past 2+ years and have made improvements to the property on our own dime throughout our tenancy here. Some of which being used as selling points in the property listing, as our landlord put the property up for sale not long after she increased the rent. She also lied about whether or not she put it up for sale when asked after the for sale sign showed up in the yard.
At this point I am hoping for advise on how to proceed.
Thank you for your time in reading this and I appreciate your time taken to send any response that will indicate to me what I should do next.
Kind Regards, *****
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Real Estate Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

I am very sorry to learn of this matter.

Unfortunately (I believe you may already understand this), the landlord has the advantage here. Your security deposit cannot be used in lieu of your last month's rent, so failure to pay rent in full can properly be responded to with a 5 day notice. If you do not pay the month's rent in full by the end of the 5 days, your landlord does have the option of filing the unlawful detainer (eviction) action. (You are correct - if you file an answer to the complaint and appear in court, you will almost certainly be moved out before the landlord gets the judgment of possession against you - but in the meantime there will be additional legal expenses incurred which you may also be liable for (check your lease carefully to see if there is any type of "prevailing party clause" which entitles the winning party in a lawsuit to recover their attorney's fees or litigation costs)).

You can try to negotiate a settlement with your landlord where you agree to pay the landlord something on a schedule - they would benefit by not having to go through the litigation process, and you would benefit by not having an unlawful detainer on your rental record, and no judgment against you.

If you do manage to negotiate a settlement, make sure to get it in writing.

You can try using a mediator if you are unable to reach a resolution directly - contact your local bar association for referrals - often a third party neutral can assist you in reaching a "mutually agreeable resolution" when the two parties are at an impasse - most communities have landlord/tenant mediation services for low cost or free that can assist you in this kind of dispute.