Legality of 30 days notice in CA
September 10, 2008 7:27 AM   Subscribe

California Tenant Law Question: Do you have to give 30 days notice if you have a lease and it ends before then?

Here's the situation: I have a 12-month lease which ends on October 5th. I had assumed that the default situation was that if I told them nothing, it would be assumed that I would be moving out on that date. Only today (September 9th) did I notice a clause in my lease which states that I must give 30 days notice, and I will automatically be rolled over into a month-to-month deal once my lease ends. Therefore I am on the hook for an extra $150 to rent that apartment on the 6th, 7th, and 8th of October.

What I want to know: are terms like this legal under California tenant law? I'll eat the money if I have to, but I wonder about the legality of this.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (6 answers total)
Here is the relevant page from the CA Dept of Consumer Affairs. Generally speaking you have to explicitly tell the landlord you are moving out, especially if your lease indicates that it converts to month to month at the end of the lease period. An exception for being on the hook for the money seems to exist of the landlord manages to rent the place before the extra days in the next month.
posted by jessamyn at 7:42 AM on September 10, 2008

One important thing to note is you do not have to give 30 days notice on the 1st or anything. If you gave notice today, e.g., they would have to pro-rate next month for 10days of rent that you owe.

If you want out, write a letter today and give it to them to day. Keep it short and sweet, include your name, current address, date you will be leaving and forwarding address.

But yes, it's legal. And it always bites you in the ass the first time it happens. Life lesson learned.
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2008

Generally speaking, a contract (which your lease is) to do a legal thing (which renting an apartment is), which does not include terms specifically prohibited by statute (usury laws, for instance, limiting interest rates) or terms which can be considered unconscionable (for example, failure to give notice means everything in the tenant's apartment and his car now belong to the landlord) is legal. 30 days notice and automatic conversion to month-to-month at the end of the term are pretty standard lease terms (and the link above seems to indicate that neither are prohibited by law in California). It protects both parties: the landlord, who has to advertise the vacancy, vet potential new tenants, schedule cleaning, painting and repair, and all the other timesucks and expenses of turning over tenants and the tenant, who otherwise could be bound over to another lease for the same 12-month term as the original contract or told to vacate immediately.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:53 AM on September 10, 2008

I don't have a legal answer for you, but you know, it also depends on your landlord. Are they a management company or an actual, reasonable person? Perhaps they will simply overlook the exact dates and assume that's good enough.

I have two units that I rent out and as long as someone is reasonable about letting me know they are vacating, I'm perfectly happy with that. I also like them to put it in writing, but I'll accept a text, email, and even a phone call until they get the time to write something. Personally, wouldn't ever charge someone for a few days because they didn't notify me exactly 30 days out.

You could always uh.. back date it to the 5th?
posted by trixare4kids at 9:37 AM on September 10, 2008

If it's close to 30 days, just talk to the landlord - they will very likely be cool about it.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 10:07 AM on September 10, 2008

In some states leases automatically renew or can include automatic renewal clauses, so notification really should be the norm. That said a lot of tenants do like to disappear.

If you don't have a place lined up, what's the problem? You say you're looking for a place opening up 11/5 instead of 10/5 and you take the extra month on your current place. If you do have a place lined up ... well, you can't move in until you can get the current place vacated per agreement or rented. Maybe they'll break your (unexecuted) lease and you have to find another place, but you've got the time to do that.

But basically, without knowing how reasonable your landlord is about such things, you're speculating. The letter of the law is simply the last defense. What you both can agree to is the reality.
posted by dhartung at 11:55 AM on September 10, 2008

« Older I'm looking for a cable that will both charge and...   |   How to keep clothes looking nice while traveling Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.