Always Refer to Your Lease Agreement in San Diego by Sunset Property Management

When in doubt, always referr to your lease agreement in San Diego, CA, if you need more detailed information. Accuratley referring to your lease agreement will allow you to determine many important elelments, like when your rent is due, late payment options and the term of your lease. Standard lease agreements in California, list the rent due date as the 1st of the month.

What is a Rent Grace Period?

The good news is that some leases and landlords offer a rent grace period to help our tenants and provide them with a little more time to get there rent paid ontime. Aditionally, California law does not always require landlords to have a payment grace period,so most landlords can accept your rent payment until the 4th of the month without you incuring a potential late penatly. If the fourth day falls on a weekend or holiday, the rent is due on the next business day. After that, you can charge a late fee. Learn More 


When are landlords alllowed to charge late fees?

As per California Civil Code Section 1671, code, landlords are allowed to charge late fees but they must be not excessive and reasonable. The good news is that the law does not place a limit on late rent payment fees. However, the law implies that California landlords may only charge a reasonable estimate on what the late payment costs the landlord.


What are reasonable Fees?

Generally, a reasonable late fee is considered to be 5% to 10% of the total cost of rent. When determining the amount of your late fee in your lease and precentages, be sure you can justify it. In some communities, late fees are limited by local rent control ordinances. Some examples of reasonable fees are if a tenant’s check bounces, the landlord can charge a reasonable fee, specified in the rental agreement. In California, this fee can include the bank’s charge and reasonable costs.


When can a landlord apply additional service charges?

Finally, the landlord can apply a service charge, up to $25 for the first insufficient funds check and up to $35 for each additional bounced check. Check out more about Bad Check Charges and documents provided by the California Superior Court.

Once you have carefully examined the lease and determined that your tenant is overdue on rent, and surpassed any specified grace period, then proceed to the next step.


Landlords Should Send a Friendly Reminder to Your Tenants

First, sending a friendly reminder that rent is due on th4 1st with a grace period until the 4th of which there could be additional charges for every day the rest is last after the 4th day of the month. Quite often, a simple quick message, can straighten out the situation all in a positive light.


Tenants genuinely typically forget to pay the rent on the due date

Often landlords do face tenants who are late on theor rent. Naturally, when rent is late, it doesn’t always mean your tenant is purposely behind. Most of the time, tenants genuinely typically forget to pay the rent on the due date, causing a mained check it to arrive a few days later, due to postal delays. it is important to always maintain good rapport, so communication is critical. If your tenant still has not paid rent after your text, emails or phone call reminders, then you might need to take additional steps.


Kindly Ask Your Tenant Why He or She is Late on Rent

Especially in todays environment, tenants are often faced with tough financial situations. These challenges, though might be temporary, can cause for a strenious tenant/ landlord relationship. It is always suggested that you allow additional, (unofficial grace periods) designed to provide tenants with the opportunity to catch up on overdue rent.


Offer a more compassionate response to short-term challenges

Although a rent grace period is not required by California law, this approach allows for a more compassionate response to short-term challenges.On the other hand, serious issues such as health crises or job loss in a challenging market can create prolonged financial strain for the tenant. Therefore, when considering a rent grace period, consider the potential costs of eviction and vacancy against the uncertainty of recovering lost rent within a reasonable timeframe.

Important note: While talking to your tenant to find out what’s going on, keep communication at a minimum. Excessive contact can be perceived as harassment, which can lead to legal consequences for you.


Serve a 3-Day Notice

If you have completed the aforementioned steps and still have not received the rent, it’s time to serve an initial notice. This notice, called a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, gives the tenant three days to pay rent. This is the first legal step required before you can move forward with an eviction.

According to the California Courts Self-Help Guide:

The Notice must be in writing and include:

  • The tenant(s) full name(s)
  • The rental home address
  • Exactly how much rent is owed
  • That all the past due rent must be paid within 3 days or you must move out
  • The name, address, and telephone number of the person to whom rent is due
  • If you can pay in person, the days and times you can pay the rent and the address where you can pay it
  • If you can pay by mail, the Notice must give the address where you can mail the payment


How to Report Money Owned When Tenant Doesn’t Pay Rent

Your 3-day Notice to Pay or Quit can only include past due rent. If you include late fees, bounced check fees, or utilities, then the Notice is not valid in court.

How to Figure out 3-Day Notice Deadline

To determine your tenant’s 3-day Notice to Pay or Quit deadline, start counting the first weekday after the notice is delivered. According to California Court rules, you must exclude Saturdays, Sundays, and court holidays in your Notice.
How to Deliver a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit in California

After you write the appropriate Notice with all necessary requirements, you must serve it to the tenant. California courts allows three options to serve tenants:

  1. Hand deliver the Notice to the tenant.
  2. Give the Notice to an adult who will give the Notice to the tenant and mail a copy of the Notice.
  3. Post the Notice on the home where the tenant lives and mail a copy of the Notice.

Be sure to conform to all the service requirements, such as mailing the Notice on the same day of posting the Notice. Make a copy of the Notice for your records and fill out a proof of service. This will be important to record if the case escalates to court.

Always Refer to Your Lease Agreement in San Diego

Cash for Keys

As a last ditch effort, you can offer your tenant a Cash for Keys exchange. While you may think it’s better to file an eviction to get it on the tenant’s record, the formal eviction process can take 3-6 months to finalize. This can mean 3-6 months of no income from your rental property.

The terms of a Cash for Keys deal is up to you. Anecdotal reports from those who have experience with “cash for keys” programs report that $500 is generally the minimum offered to tenants, while $5,000 is generally the maximum.

Once the tenant has exceeded the 3-day notice period, you can reach out one final time to negotiate. In exchange for the rent owed and keys to the property, you will not file an eviction. Make sure you give them a hard deadline and once it’s passed, file the eviction.

 Begin the Eviction Process

Once the 3-day deadline has passed, you can proceed with the eviction. The first step is to contact your attorney and have them file an unlawful detainer with the court. Gather all necessary documents, which include the following:

  • The lease or rental agreement and any written changes the tenant agreed to
  • The notice you gave your tenant
  • Written proof your tenant was given the notice
  • The tenant’s rental application
  • The tenant’s ledger
  • Any other important communications the attorney should be aware of

Then, you will need to fill out the following court forms:

Once the Summons & Complaint is filed with the court and you “Serve the Papers” to the tenant, you will wait for your tenant’s response.

Depending on how you notified the tenant of the Summons and Complaint, the tenant will have either 5 days or 15 days to submit an Answer. If you handed the Summons and Complaint to your tenant, they have 5 days, minus Saturdays, Sundays, and Court Holidays, to submit their Answer. On the other hand, if you mailed or had someone else deliver the Summons and Complaint to your tenant, then they have 15 days to submit their Answer.

If the tenant does not respond after 5-15 days, you can request a default judgement.

If the default judgement is approved, the judge will order the tenant to pay court costs and attorney fees. Five to 14 days later, you will receive a Writ of Possession, which instructs the sheriff to lock the tenant out of the property. The sheriff will visit the property and notify the tenant that they must be out in five days. If they are not, they will be forcibly removed.

If the tenant intends to fight the eviction, you will be assigned a court date. The judge will hear both sides and make a decision. If the judge sides with the tenant, the tenant will be allowed to remain in your property. If you win, the tenant will be required to vacate the property.

A Writ of Possession will be issued if you win the case. The sheriff will post this notice to the tenant five to 15 days after judgment, and the sheriff lockout will occur approximately one week later. You are expected to meet the sheriff for the lockout and hire a locksmith, who will change the locks so the tenant cannot access the property.

The judge will likely order your tenant to pay back rent, damages, penalties, and costs (attorney and court fees) related to the case. However, if your tenant wins, you could be required to pay their trial-related costs.

Evicting a tenant in California can be a complex and resource-intensive process.

If the tenant moves out or you come to an agreement, then the court case is dismissed

If your tenant moves out or you two come to an amicable agreement, you can file forms to dismiss the eviction case.

Consider Hiring a Property Manager? Sunset Property Management & Realty is here to help

Handling tenants who refuse to pay rent and going through an eviction process can be a traumatic and discouraging experience. Instead, consider hiring a reliable property manager in San Diego with a No Eviction Guarantee.
ee. Please contact us today to learn more about any questions about a lease or if your a property owner at Sunset Property Management & Realty as were here to help.

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