Eviction Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Tenant defenses that work - habitability?
- The most common defense given by a tenant is that the property is not habitable. Habitable means the property was in such an inadequate condition that the law will not allow the landlord to receive the demanded rent.
- The law does not allow a landlord to demand all or a portion of the rent if the property is not livable. There is no exclusive list, but common examples are inadequate heat, water, hot water, electricity, windows, doors, ventilation. If the property is filthy or vermin infested that would also allow the tenant to win.
- This is such a common complaint, that the judges do not take it too seriously, unless the tenant has pictures or has a report from the health inspector.
- Normally pictures are not too bad for the landlord. Unfortunately, an inspection from the health inspector generally is pretty bad for the landlord. The judge believes what is on the inspection report, regardless of what the truth may be.
- If the unlivable condition was caused by the tenant or developed after the tenant moved into the property, this defense is not available to the landlord. However, the tenant will usually claim he or she told the landlord of the condition, whether they actually did or not.
- If the judge finds the property was uninhabitable, the judge will either rule for the tenant, or require the tenant to pay a lesser rent until the condition is fixed. Either way the tenant remains in possession of the property.
Tenant defenses that work - discrimination?
- Some types of discrimination are legal. For example, discrimination against noisy tenants or tenants that are late on the rent. If the judge believes that the landlord is attempting to evict the tenant due to discrimination which is illegal (race, sex, age, number of children, religion, marital status, etc.) the landlord will lose the eviction.
Tenant defenses that work - Three Day Notice Wrong?
- If the rent demanded in the three day notice is in excess of the actual rent due, the landlord will lose. If money is demanded on the three day notice to pay rent or quit which is not rent (for example late charges) the landlord will lose. There are other required items on the three day notice as well.
Tenant defenses that work - Notice not served?
- If the landlord did not properly serve the notice, the landlord will lose.
Tenant defenses that work - Receipt of Money after service of Notice?
- If the landlord received money after service of the notice, the landlord will lose an eviction based upon that notice.
Tenant defenses that work - Retaliation?
- If the judge believes the reason the landlord seeks this eviction is to retaliate against the tenant for engaging in legally protected activities, this landlord will lose the eviction. This is very rare since most evictions are brought because the tenant did not pay the rent. For example, the landlord cannot evict a tenant because the tenant reported a crime. The landlord can retaliate against the tenant for not paying the rent or being noisy.
Tenant defenses that work - Rent Control?
- Luckily, rent control in the Antelope Valley only applies to mobile home parks. This is not a defense to other properties. Tenants often have moved from rent control properties, or have friends in rent control properties, and don't understand that there is no rent control. Some of the more bizarre tenant requests result from this misunderstanding.
Tenant defenses that work - Waiver of Notice?
- If the landlord waives the notice, then an eviction cannot be brought on that notice. The most common way to waive the notice is to accept money after it has expired.
Tenant defenses that work - Repair and Deduct?
- The tenant has the right to repair an item in the property and then deduct the cost of repair from the rent. If this amount is demanded in the notice to pay the rent, then the landlord will lose.
- This defense is rarely successful because the repair must be necessary to remedy a condition that makes the property uninhabitable. Also, the tenant must give reasonable notice ahead of time and can only deduct one month's rent.
What is a trial?
- The eviction trial is the same as any other trial. At an eviction trial, as other trials, the Plaintiff presents evidence as to why the Defendant should be evicted. The Defendant then presents evidence as to why he or she should not be evicted. Since the relevant evidence for an eviction trial is so small, eviction trials are usually much shorter than other trials. Jury Trials are rarely held for evictions, however, they are possible.
- Eviction trials tend to be much more informal than other trials. The current judge that hears our evictions does not require many of the formalities that are common for other trials. However, the Plaintiff must still present evidence by a knowledgeable person. This is why it is necessary for a person who has knowledge to appear with us at trial. For example, if the tenant is being evicted because of non-payment of rent, then a person who has knowledge, based upon their review of the records or because they received the rent, or the non-payment of the rent, must appear at trial.
This information is only certain to be true in the Antelope Valley of California. While these FAQs are generally true, they have not been checked against such things as local county or local Court rules except in the Antelope Valley. If you are anywhere other than in the Antelope Valley, you should check with local Counsel before making any plans based on this information.