San Bernardino, CA asked in Landlord - Tenant for California

Q: Hello. Our landlord just gave us a 60 day notice to evacuate saying we broke a lease rule. Need help as this is false.

The rule states that the resident should refrain from any alterations or improvements to the unit without the consent of the owner. This is regards to us turning on the electricity breakers that were turned off without informing us while some repairs were being done. Landlord is now claiming that a electrition almost got electrocuted since we should have known better. The workers from the day prior informed us that their work is finished and we can turn on the breakers. They informed us that new workers are coming the next day to do other work. The new workers didn't inform us before turning off the breakers that they needed them off. No written or verbal notice was given. Neither were the breakers sealed off implying they shouldn't be touched. The work in question was mold remediation. The landlord is also refusing to provide certification stating it has passed and has only told us verbally. Need help as we feel we are being wrongfully thrown out the house.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Landlord Tenant Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: In California, landlords must follow specific procedures when they believe a tenant has violated a lease agreement, including providing proper notice and an opportunity for the tenant to remedy the violation, if applicable. Turning on electricity breakers under the circumstances you've described does not typically constitute an unauthorized alteration or improvement to the property. Given the lack of clear communication from the workers and no explicit instructions regarding the breakers, your actions appear to be based on reasonable assumptions following the information provided by the initial set of workers.

If you believe the eviction notice is unjustified, you have the right to contest it. It's important to gather any evidence of the communications you had with the workers, such as messages, emails, or any witness statements that can support your claim that you were told the electrical work was completed and that you were not informed of any need to keep the breakers off. Documentation proving the lack of notice or warnings about the breakers could be crucial.

You might consider reaching out to the landlord to discuss the misunderstanding and clarify the situation, potentially resolving the issue without further legal action. If this approach does not lead to a satisfactory resolution, consulting with an attorney who can advise you on tenant rights and potential defenses against wrongful eviction under California law is advisable. They can also assist in requesting the mold remediation certification from your landlord, as landlords are required to ensure rental properties meet health and safety standards, including proper remediation of mold issues.

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