4th Dec 2010

A few days ago, I covered the basic eviction notices. What’s more interesting is the defenses that can be raised on the different notices. Consider:

  • Three-day notice to pay rent or quit. The primary defense to this notice is habitability. Every residential rental comes with an implied warranty of habitability. If the unit is uninhabitable (Civil Code 1941 details several factors that are clear proof of uninhabitabilty but the list is not exhaustive), then the duty to pay rent disappears.
    The question with habitability defenses is that even when the tenant prevails, the judge will determine how much rent is still owing. If it’s more than $0, the tenant will have to pay the reduced rent. If she can’t, the landlord will still win. The habitability defense is the right to pay rent.

  • 30/60/90 notice to vacate. These notices don’t give a reason for the eviction. They just tell you it’s time to go. The only defense to these kinds of notices is that the eviction is retaliatory. That generally means there was a government inspection and the landlord was ordered to make some repair. Rather than making the repair, the landlord evicts you. That’s retaliatory.
  • No-recourse evictions. It’s unusual to see notices where the landlord tells someone to get out in three days because their violation is so incurable. The defense is simply that the landlord cannot prove such extreme behavior. For instance, it’s very difficult for a landlord to prove someone is dealing drugs, short of hiring an undercover PI.

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