It was the apartment of your dreams, so you signed the lease without giving it much thought. But now there are problems. And you don’t know what to do. Afterall, you signed the lease and now you have no choice. Not so fast. A lease is a contract and as such, it must be in accordance with the rules of contract law. One of the principles of contract law is that certain statements or policies can't be a part of a contract. This includes illegal activities and activities that are against public policy. Even when a tenant has signed the lease, unconscionable or illegal terms of a contract make it unenforceable. Read on to learn about common but unenforceable California lease terms.
Paying a security deposit is something that's required for most renters. However, there are laws that determine how much is acceptable to charge for a security deposit. Under California law, a landlord can't hold a deposit of more than two months' rent for an unfurnished unit and three months' rent for a furnished unit.
A lease with a clause the makes a tenant pay a set amount for breaking their lease early is illegal in this state. California caps what the landlord can recover when a tenant breaks a lease; they can only recover the actual damages suffered because of the termination of the lease. The landlord must mitigate the damages to re-let the property as soon as possible at the same rate. If the rental market is tight and the landlord can re-let the space right away, then the landlord hasn't experienced any major damages due to the breach.
If your lease contains an arbitration clause or anything that prohibits a jury trial in a dispute between the landlord and the tenant, it is unenforceable. However, mediation provisions are enforceable, as long as it doesn't exclude a possible jury trial.
All landlords owe a duty of reasonable care to their tenants and are liable to them if the tenant suffers damages for the landlord's negligent acts. A landlord can't waive or modify this duty. This means that any lease that contains a provision that exempts the landlord's liability for negligence is legally void and unenforceable because it is "contrary to public policy."
California law identifies specific reasons and circumstances under which a landlord can enter a tenant's unit. This includes entering for emergencies or making necessary or agreed upon repairs. A landlord can't put anything in the lease that allows for other reasons to enter a unit.
Whether you're renting an apartment for the first time in your life or for the umpteenth, people often don't read every line of their lease. Although it's best to be aware of questionable terms before you move-in and sign the lease, it's possible to remedy the situation if you've signed something that's unenforceable. Feel free to reach out to us to talk to an experienced landlord and tenant attorney at Wolford Wayne. Contact us right away to discuss your case.
Recovered on behalf of a group of 30 tenants living in an SRO in San Francisco who were living with horrendous conditions in their rent controlled apartments, including rodents, bedbugs, mold, water leaks and harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three families living in a building in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood who were forced to live with substandard conditions for years as a result of their landlord’s negligence, including issues with lack of heat, lack of hot water and cockroach/rat infestations.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a couple living in a rent-controlled home in the outer Sunset neighborhood. Our clients were forced to vacate after the landlord served them with an Owner Move-In Eviction Notice. After the landlords failed to move into the property, our clients filed suit for wrongful eviction.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant in Russian Hill. Tenant was forced to vacate her illegal apartment in retaliation for reporting unlawful rent increases to the San Francisco Rent Board.Read More
Recovered for a single long-term tenant in San Francisco. Our client was forced to move out of his apartment as a result of extreme landlord harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of three long-term tenants in San Francisco’s Castro neighborhood who were constructively evicted due to noise and nuisance conditions created by their downstairs neighbors, which the owner refused to address.Read More
Recovered on behalf of elderly, disabled tenant who was forced to move out of her rent-controlled San Francisco apartment of 50 years after landlord/owner failed to resolve numerous building code violations that remained outstanding for over a decade.Read More
Recovered on behalf of seven tenants living in a makeshift boarding house in East Palo Alto.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two former San Francisco tenants who were evicted via an Owner Move-In Eviction and owner failed to occupy the unit as her primary place of residence.Read More
Recovered on behalf of an elderly long-term tenant who was forced to vacate her long San Francisco apartment as a result of her landlord’s refusal to address longstanding defective conditions, including lack of heat, mold, rodent infestations, and defective plumbing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco tenant who was forced to vacate his home as a result of ongoing, disruptive construction and the owners’ refusal to provide him with alternative housing. Read More
Recovered on behalf of a San Francisco family that was constructively evicted from their home in the Richmond District as a result of unlawful rent increases, defective conditions and tenant harassment.Read More
Recovered on behalf of a tenant living in an illegal “in-law” unit. In this case, a new owner purchased the building and then demolished our client’s unit without permits while she was displaced for seismic retrofitting.Read More
Recovered on behalf of two long term San Francisco tenants who were fraudulently evicted from their home of over twenty years under the pretext of an owner move-in eviction.Read More
Recovered for tenant who was injured when their stairway railing collapsed at the tenant’s Mission District apartment building.Read More
Recovered in action for a group of tenants forced to vacate their San Francisco apartment house due to severe habitability defects including mold and water leaks.Read More
One of the most common questions we get from tenants is - what happens when my landlord sells my building? Tenants, understandably, want to know what their rights are if Continue Reading
Like any narrow corner of the internet, the world of landlord-tenant law is filled with its own language, terms and a variety of explanations, many, sadly, filled with inaccuracies. In Continue Reading
Wrongful evictions happen far too often in San Francisco. The sad reality is that many tenants who are forced out of their homes illegally aren’t even aware that their landlord Continue Reading
With rising costs everywhere right now, many renters are looking to cut costs wherever they can. However, it is important not to drop your renter’s insurance. Though this can be Continue Reading
San Francisco has its own rent laws in addition to tenant protections under California state law. At Wolford Wayne LLP, we help tenants in San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley who Continue Reading
Meeting with a lawyer can be intimidating - especially if you have never had to deal with legal issues before. Understanding how a consultation works can help you feel more Continue Reading
For more information or to discuss your legal situation, call us today at (415) 649-6203 for a phone consultation or submit an inquiry below. Please note our firm can only assist tenants residing in San Francisco, Oakland & Berkeley.