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Housing

Housing

COVID protections, Section 8, eviction, HUD, discrimination

Frequently Asked Questions

Can my landlord keep my security deposit?

There are a few reasons a landlord may keep all or some of your deposit. Here are some of the main reasons:

  1. Unpaid rent
  2. Damages from the tenant besides normal wear and tear (normal wear and tear can be for example: scuffed paint on walls, worn carpet, etc.)
  3. Cleaning the rental unit to the level of cleanliness as when they moved in
  4. Possibly replacing furnishings if the lease requires it

How many days does my landlord have before he has to return my deposit?

Your landlord must return your deposit within 21 days or give you an itemized written statement explaining why, along with any money left over. If the amount being kept is more than $125 the landlord must include copies of bills, receipts, and invoices.

I was just served with a notice/eviction papers/ court documents, what do I do?

  • Any time you are served with a notice or court documents you do not understand you should consult with an attorney.
  • If a landlord wants to evict a tenant, they must file a court case against them. This is called an “unlawful detainer” or UD in the courts, but it is also called an eviction.
  • A Notice is what starts the eviction process. The Notice has instructions, if you fail to comply with the instructions, you will get a Summons and Complaint.
  1. You have 5 days from the date you receive the Summons and Complaint to respond.
  2. To count the 5 court days, start counting the day after you receive the papers. Do not count Saturdays, Sundays, or court holidays.
  3. If you don’t file a response, or Answer you may get a default judgment against you. That means the landlord wins without you telling your side to the judge.

My landlord wants to evict me, can they lock me out of my home?

  1. No, it is illegal for your landlord to lock you out of your home. They are also not allowed to threaten or harass you, including threatening to call immigration.
  2. An eviction is a legal process. That process starts with a Notice. Trying to evict without giving proper notice is illegal.

My landlord wants to evict me, can they turn off the power or water?

  • No. It is illegal for a landlord to lockout you out if you are a tenant, they can’t remove a tenant’s belongings, cut off utilities (such as water or electricity), or remove outside windows or doors in order to force a tenant to leave.
  • An eviction is a legal process. That process starts with a Notice. Trying to evict without proper notice is illegal.

Where can I learn about how the eviction process works?

  • https://selfhelp.courts.ca.gov/eviction
  • After you receive a Notice from your landlord you may get an Unlawful Detainer also known as an eviction. This is a visual of how the court process works.

Where can I find the phone numbers or websites to my local courthouse or self-help center?

What happens if I lose a UD trial?

  • If you lose at trial, you will be given a Notice to Vacate by the Sherriff’s office, giving you a certain number of days to move.
  • If you do not move, you and your belongings will be physically removed.
  • You may also have to pay a storage fee to get your items back.
  • An eviction will be on your record for 7 years (or even more) making it very difficult for a new landlord to want to rent to you.

How does the eviction process work?

  • First, you will receive a Notice. The Notice can ask you to do different things like pay rent, clean up an area, or follow a rule.
  • If you do not comply with what the Notice asks of you then you may receive a
  • You have 5 calendar days to answer the Summons and Complaint. You start counting the day after you get the document, do not include weekends or court holiday.
  • If you do not answer you may get a default Judgement against you. You will be given a Notice to Vacate by the Sherriff, giving you a certain number of days to move. If you do not move, you will be physically removed and may have to pay a storage fee to get your belongings back.
  • If you do answer the Summons and Complaint the court will set a date for about 20 days from the date you filed your Answer.
  • You must attend the trial and follow all court orders.
  • If you win you may get to stay, but if you lose, you will be given a Notice to Vacate by the Sherriff, giving you a certain number of days to move. If you do not move, you will be physically removed and may have to pay a storage fee to get your belongings back.

What happens to my stuff if my landlord locks me out?

  • After the lockout, the tenant has approximately 16 days to contact the landlord and make arrangements to pick up their things. The tenant may have to pay a daily rent for each day the belongings were at the unit after the lockout. Once paid, the tenant should be allowed up to 72 hours to remove their items. Anything left will be disposed of if it is valued under $700.
  • When the sheriff arrives to lock you out you will have about 10-20 min to gather your belongings. You should be packed and ready to go when the sheriff arrives if at all possible. You may even choose to remove all your belongings before they arrive.
  • As soon as you know the Writ of Possession is coming, you should pack up all of your most important items in a box or bag and place the box by the front door. If you leave home, take your important items with you each time you leave in case the locks are changed before you return.
  • In your important box of things remember to take any medications, important documents, irreplaceable sentimental items, and about 3 or 4 changes of clothes.
  • If you know you are going to a hotel or motel you may even want to bring some appliances to get by for a few days.

What months does Covid-19 rental assistance cover?

Dates covered by rental assistance may cover April 2020 to March 2022. Any debts from April 1, 2022, or later will not be covered.

Can I still apply for rental assistance?

  • Dates covered by rental assistance may cover April 2020 to March 2022. Any debts from April 1, 2022, or later will not be covered.
  • The CA COVID-19 Rent Relief program is no longer accepting applications. In accordance with California Senate Bill 115, all eligible applicants that submitted their application before the March 31 deadline will receive assistance with past-due rent and/or utility bills.
  • You can check the status here https://housing.ca.gov/covid_rr/program_overview.html

Can I withhold rent if my landlord is not fixing certain things?

  • It is considered very risky to withhold rent and is not advisable unless under the supervision of an attorney.
  • You must be doing everything perfectly, and that may not be enough to protect you from retaliation or eviction.
  • If you make repairs keep any and all receipts to show to your landlord.
  • The amount can never exceed one month’s rent.
  • If you make arrangements with the landlord or property manager to “fix” things around the house for reduced rent get that agreement in writing and signed by both parties before any work begins.

My neighbor is causing issues and my landlord is not doing anything about it. Can I ask my landlord to evict my neighbor who is harassing me?

  • In general, CCLS will not assist with evicting someone.
  • You can make a complaint to your landlord or property manager if the issues persist.
  • Try and make a list of dates and times of any incidents that occur.
  • If you fear for your safety or your life, you should call the police.

If I just move out before the court date, do I still have to file an answer?

If you do not file an answer, the landlord will win the case and you will suffer all the negative consequences of having a judgment of eviction on your record. Also, it is possible that your landlord may not dismiss the case even if you paid the rent and leave the unit clean.

Tips

Eviction

  • A verbal eviction is not valid.
  • A Notice IS NOT an eviction.
  • As soon as you receive a Notice of ANY kind, get legal advice.
  • An Eviction is not legal unless it is court ordered.
  • If you have not had a judgment entered against you either at trial or by default, you are still considered a legal tenant.

Payments

  • When you make any payment, specify what it is for and get a receipt.
  • Even if you pay with cash, you can hand write your receipt and have your landlord sign it.
  • If you pay with a money order or check, write exactly what you are using it for. For example: April’s rent, Late Fees for September, Pet Deposit.
  • If you pay in cash, get a receipt.
  • You can always keep a record of payments even if you gave the landlord the original.
  • Get a receipt for payments, no matter how you pay, even if you pay in cash.

General

  • Make copies of communications between you and your landlord
  • Before you move in, do an inspection, make a checklist of issues, and take pictures
  • Talk to an attorney before withholding rent for habitability reasons
  • Talk to an attorney before choosing to go to trial.
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