Q: Can my landlord charge me per night for having a guest stay in my unit for a week?
I live in California. I rented a 1br/1 ba appt and signed a lease stating that if I had unregistered guests that I would be charged $30/night (per the lease I am allowed 2 guests every month for a maximum of 2 days). Over word of mouth when I signed the lease, he told me that it was not enforced unless the guests caused a disturbance. I had some college friends stay for 4 days (one works for Facebook the other is a tutor and there were no disturbances) 3 months before the end of my lease. I never told my landlord, but now ( 4 months later when collecting my deposit ) he deducted $480 from my room deposit and claimed that the charges stem from me having those guests ( 2 guests for 8 days though it was actually just for 4). What should I do?
I also have read about the California right to Quiet Enjoyment of Rental Property.
If you signed a lease that says you would be charged, then you were aware of the "potential" fees. It also sounds like you breached the lease agreement by letting your friends stay more than the allotted "2 days" per month, and sounds like you further operated in bad faith by not disclosing these facts to your landlord when they occurred. So you are likely responsible for the fees.
To your defense, the facts don't provide the specific wording of the lease agreement to know whether it is worded "per guest", or "per night". Meaning, its unclear whether the landlord has a right to charge per guest, or whether multiple guests should still count as 1 night. You do also claim the word of mouth was that it wouldn't be enforced. However, that is not written into the lease, and therefore wouldn't likely be enforceable by you. You can't even bring it in due to a legal concept called the "Parole Evidence Rule", and is basically giving the landlord the freedom to charge you if they decide to.
Depending on the specifics of the lease agreement and full situation, you may be able to fight for part of the fee not being valid. However, it's likely not enough to take to court. I would suggest trying to negotiate with the landlord, respectfully, and then consult an attorney to provide specifics and discuss options.
A: What should you do? You should contact your former LL and request that he send you the money that you dispute. You should mention a specific amount and give him 10 days to comply. If he retains the deposit in bad faith, you may be able to recover double the amount retained as a penalty per Civil Code § 1950.5 (L). You would file a claim in Small Claims court.
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