Ok, so my landlord is a new landlord. I live in a house he recently bought with 3 other friends. We pay $2,000 a month and we pay for all of the bills. However, according to him, he's only renting room by room, when we were under the impression that he was renting the house. Our grass has gotten ridiculously long and he refuses to cut it because he feels that it's not his responsibility. He also likes to come in and out of the house at random times, sometimes at very inconvenient times. Another problem is that he has communication problems and likes to beat around the bush constantly. My roommates and I feel that we can't get our message through to him and things are jumbled when he talks. We had an argument one day about us "renting rooms" when we were technically renting out the house the whole time. We ended up saying that we would be responsible for the grass but from that point on, he would receive 2000 a month and we would be leasing the house. A day later, he decides to go back on his word, even when 2 of us witnessed what he said orally. Here's the catch to everything, though: We haven't signed a contract and the only paper trail are the checks that we write. What options do my roommates and I have? What kind of protection do we have? He feels that we are threats to him, so he has been showcasing the house without letting us know. We don't feel safe and finding a house around the university is very difficult. We pay rent on time, all the time, in full and we're very responsible. Please advise.
California tenant laws apply mostly to apartment units and not houses, things like Sublimity rent control don't apply to SFR (Houses and Condo's). Oral contracts for real estate are valid only if the terms are less then 30 days; so with the cashed checks you can establish that you rent the house and you are tenants but either you or the landlord can give 30 day notice to end the month to month tenancy. Landlords must give 24 hour notice to demand entrance inside the house, if he asks to enter with out notice you can deny him. You also have the right to 'peaceful use of the property' which is kind of vague but the idea is to keep a landlord from harassing a tenant; as an example giving you a 24hr notice to enter every day. But the real issue is your on a month to month tenancy, the landlord can ask you to move with a 30 day notice at anytime if he is pissed off at you and you have no real recourse unless he commits a real crime like assault and battery against you. As for the lawn, you rent the house, you have to take care of the yard....ahh the landlord doesn't live in the house right? I would ask the landlord for a lease or rental agreement or leave, life is too short for this kind of bullshit.
Because there is no written lease, you have a default month-to-month tenancy. Either part can terminate the lease, by giving the other 30 days notice. All of the common protections, as described in the California Landlord Tenant Act, apply. You should go to the state's website and read the information on the Landlord Tenant Act. Note: Some cities, such as Los Angeles, have their own Landlord-Tenant Laws, which will trump the state's laws. Here's a few tips: (1) Your landlord must give you "reasonable" notice before entering or showing the premises. In most courts, reasonable means at least 24 hours. (2) Unless a written lease specifies otherwise, it is the landlords responsibility to maintain common areas (e.g. the lawn) -- unless it's not a common area and it's something like a enclosed patio, that only belongs to your unit. In that case, you're responsible for it (this is rare). Good Luck!
Oral agreements mean nothing. If you haven't signed a lease, then you have few protections and obviously you and the landlord have differing views on just what you are "renting." Come to agreement on a lease or move. Google "catenant" for a pamphlet on Sublimity tenant law.
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