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Evictions - 3-Day Notice to Cure or Quit

A common scenario in landlord-tenant law is where a residential landlord believes the tenant is in violation of the lease, or is causing a nusiance, and wants to get the tenant out as soon as possible. Perhaps the tenant has additional people living with them, or is having loud parties that annoy the neighbors and lead to complaints--or perhaps the tenant is doing something more obviously illegal, such as dealing drugs out of his apartment. What options do the landlord and tenant have in this scenario?

Generally, 60 days notice is required to terminate a residential tenancy when the tenant has lived there for a year or more. If the tenant has lived at the premises less than a year, then 30 days notice is required.

However, if the tenant is in violation of lease provisions, the landlord can serve a 3 day notice to cure or quit. If the violation is not cured within the 3 day period, the landlord can then evict the tenant. Although this isn't the exact legal terminology, this can be thought of as an eviction "for cause." At the local level, the City of Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance has provisions along the same lines relating to "at-fault" evictions. More information about at-fault evictions under the LA RSO can be found here.

Below is a brief discussion of some options for landlords and tenants with respect to lease violations and 3-day notices to cure or quit.

On the landlord side, if you do serve the 3 day notice to cure or quit, make sure you have as much documentation as possible of the tenant's violation of the lease, make sure the tenant is actually violating a concrete, readily identifiable provision in the lease, and make sure your notice correctly cites that lease provision. In one case we handled earlier this year, the tenant won because the landlord tried to evict her for "illegal use of the premises" when in fact the tenant had done some bad things but had not actually violated the lease provision at issue. An attorney can help make sure you are able to identify and prove the lease violation in court.

On the tenant side, as noted above, it's certainly a possibility that the landlord may claim something violates the lease when it actually doesn't. Tenants should carefully review the lease and notice to see whether the landlord is properly interpreting and citing the lease provision(s) at issue, and should assess whether the landlord can actually prove the violation. It's one thing to say someone complained to you that a tenant was smoking marijuana; it's often quite another to actually prove in court that the tenant was smoking marijuana in his apartment in violation of the lease. Just like a lawyer can help the landlord prove the lease violation in court, a skillful lawyer can help the tenant poke holes in the landlord's accusations and proof, and show the court that the landlord has not met his burden to prove the claimed lease violation by a preponderance of the evidence.

For some issues, the landlord is not required to give the tenant the option to cure. Drug dealing by a tenant is one example. If the landlord serves a 3-day notice to quit based on such a breach, the tenant cannot cure the breach and prevent the eviction lawsuit, but still may be able to defend the case in court.

Also, it's good to be aware that rent control ordinances are generally local, which means that there can be tricky or unusual issues relating to your city's ordinance. Cooledge Law has handled cases involving Los Angeles rent control (RSO). The LA RSO generally requires the landlord to pay relocation assistance unless the tenant is at fault or certain other requirements are met. Click here for information provided by the City on relocation assistance.

We hope the above information is helpful. If you are seeking an attorney to deal with a potential eviction based on a violation of a lease agreement, don't hesitate to reach out to us!

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