A landlord who wishes to terminate a periodic (month-to-month) tenancy may do so by properly serving advanced written 30-day or 60-day notices on tenants. The operative word is properly. The reality is that most “mom and pop” landlords are on cruise control and don’t know the “ins and outs” of landlord-tenant law, namely California Civil Code section 1946 et. Seq. Over the years I defended many tenants who were improperly served by the landlord – the result of which was a delayed end of the tenancy. By failing to properly serve notice the landlord will be surprised when they find out (usually at the end of the 30 or 60 day period) that they need to re-serve the notice thus resetting the calendar for another 30 or 60 day period.
Have you heard the old legal adage, “[I]gnorance of the law is no excuse”? Many landlords and property owners consistently violate the law without knowing it, but that does not excuse their ignorance or their potential liability. One of the most common violations occurs when a tenant has resided in a property for more than one year – they are granted certain statutory rights which can’t be waived related to tenancy termination. California Civil Code Section 1946.1(b) states in pertinent part that:
A landlord can end a periodic tenancy (for example, a month-to-month tenancy) by giving the tenant proper advance written notice. Your landlord must give you 60 days advance written notice that the tenancy will end if you and every other tenant or resident have lived in the rental unit for a year or more.
Many landlords and property owners have clauses in their rental agreements and leases that state “the landlord and tenant must give each other 30-day notice to terminate the tenancy.” The problem with this language is that it reduces the statutory minimum notice required by California Civil Code 1946.1(b). Even if a tenant unknowingly agreed to such language in a rental agreement or lease they would not be bound by it because it is a statutory violation.
A landlord who violates this law may be subject to several penalties including a significant delay in getting the property back from the tenant. Moreover, landlords who violate the law can be subject to statutory remedies, fines, potential damages, and reasonable attorneys’ fees – if the tenant can prove such.