What rights do we have?

What rights do we have?
We rented a house for nearly three years. The landlords always verbally told us that they would not sell house until we moved and we told them what year that would be. They let us know they ”forgot” about a tax liablity and put the house on the market before end of the third year. We ended up moving due to the harrasment by realtor’s. We gave our landlord a 30-day notice, told them to keep the full deposit and had the house professionally cleaned before we moved out. They are taking up to Small Claims for 4500. They did no improvement to the house the whole time we lived there. We have never even seen them in person. They are billing us for the improvements to the house not to get ready to rerent, but for sale. Also is it true that if you are paying rent monthly after this long of a time that there is legal precedent that it is a month to month basis even with a lease? They changed the whole nature of our lease. We lost our right to quiet enjoyment of the property. Do we have any rights?

2 thoughts on “What rights do we have?

  1. Re: What rights do we have?
    If you originally had a one-year lease, pay rent monthly and stay beyond the term, you become a month-to-month tenant. Civil Code ยง1945. But if you sign a new one-year lease, you do not.

    The landlord is entitled to recover for damage you caused while a tenant, reasonable wear and tear excepted. What is reasonable wear and tear is a judgment call. You are not liable for “improvements” but only for repair of damage you caused. The landlord must repair other damage.

    You do have a right to quiet enjoyment of the property while you live there. You may wish to file a counter-suit in Small Claims to recover your deposit, even if you told the landlord to keep it. I suggest you consult an attorney where you live about your situation.

    Martin Snitow
    Martin S. Snitow Law Corporation
    PO Box 90278
    San Jose, CA 95109-3278

  2. Re: What rights do we have?
    It sounds to me as though the key issue here is whether the realtor’s ‘harassment’ was sufficient to warrant moving out, which would otherwise be a breach of the lease.

    Owners generally have the right to sell leased property. Unless the lease provides otherwise, the new owners take the property subject to the unexpired term of the lease and any other rights the tenant may have.

    Owners also have the right to show leased property to prospective buyers upon reasonable notice, generally 24 hours. Failure to observe the notice requirement might constitute breach of lease warranting your move-out, but more likely the lease is not breached unless and until the intrusions become repeated and serious.

    All in all, your defenses are perhaps not as strong as your question suggests. Ultimately, if this goes to small claims court, the quality and credibility of the presentations made by each party may determine the outcome.

    Bryan Whipple
    Bryan R. R. Whipple, Attorney at Law
    P O Box 318
    Tomales, CA 94971-0318

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