Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers
Ted Kimball, Esq.
1. Question: I have a renter who gave me a thirty-day notice and then left the following week.
Can I re-key the door locks and enter the property?
Answer: If your resident has clearly vacated the unit and communicated the same to you, you
do not have to wait until the thirty-day notice expires before you can relet the unit. California law
requires that you mitigate your potential loss of rent by attempting to rent the property as soon
as possible. The former tenant is liable for any unpaid rent up to the time the premises are relet
or the thirty-day notice expires.
2. Question: I just bought two four-plexes. I have a “no pet” policy. One tenant has a dog,
cat, and five kittens. How do I change the pet policy as the new owner?
Answer: If they are on a month-to-month, you can serve a thirty-day notice changing the terms
of the tenancy to a “no pet” policy. If they are on a fixed term lease, you can make “no pets” a
condition of a renewal of the lease, but not until it expires.
3. Question: If we personally serve a tenant a notice to enter the unit and we mail them a copy
of the notice, do we need to wait the required six days before entry?
Answer: California law requires six days if the notice is mailed only. If served personally or
posted on the usual entry door of the premises, a twenty-four hour notice of entry is presumed
to be a reasonable time.
4. Question: Can residents sit outside their front door and drink beer? Other residents are
Answer: If the outside portion where they are drinking beer is part of the common area of the
premises, you can restrict that activity as long as it is restricted for all residents. If it is part of
their rented space, you cannot, unless they are causing unreasonable disturbances to other
5. Question: I purchased a rental property two years ago and the security deposits need to be
increased. Most of the deposits are $400.00 and need to be increased to $800.00. What is the
best way to do this?
Answer: If they are on a month-to-month agreement, you can serve a thirty-day notice
changing the terms of the tenancy to increase the deposit amount. You can charge up to twice
the amount of the monthly rent if the unit is unfurnished.
6. Question: Who is responsible for the expense of carpet cleaning and painting when a tenant
vacates a unit? Is its lawful to pass on this expense to the departing tenant?
Answer: Under California law, the carpet must be left in the same clean condition it was when
the tenant first moved in. Any necessary cleaning is the tenant’s responsibility and the cost may
be deducted from his or her security deposit. Painting may also be charged to the departing
tenant if the need to paint arose out of extraordinary wear and tear while the tenant occupied
7. Question: We rented to three roommates who all moved in at the same time. One moved
out a couple of months ago and the other two moved out last month. All three were all on the
rental agreement and one is demanding that we give the entire deposit refund to him because
he was the one who paid it. What should we do?
Answer: Either require the roommate to produce a written, notarized statement from the other
two roommates granting their permission and consent, or give him a check with all three names
as the payee.