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Basement rental

Discussion in 'Rental Agreements & Subleases' started by ctanke, Aug 3, 2011.

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  1. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Hi,

    My boyfriend and I have been renting a basement of a house in Calfornia for about a 1 1/2 years with no problems. Someone recently told the city that the basement was being used as a room for rent. The city came to the house yesterday entered the room without our permission and told my boyfriend that the room isn't up to code(they said that an extension cord I have going into the room is what made it not up to code) and that we had to move out of it by this Friday. They claim that they will be coming back on Friday to make sure we are out of the room. Can they do this or do they have to give us(or the landlord) the opportinuty to bring it up to code? The police have been to the house I live in several times (for another renter that lives there) and know that I rent the basement. They have never stated that it's not legal for me to live there. Any information/weblinks you can provide me with is appreciated!!

    :eek:)
    Carrie
     
  2. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    You don't have to go anywhere. If they want you out they will have to evict you, condemn the house, or do something far more than asking nicely.
    Correct the issue with the cord. When they come back there will no longer be a violation (assuming that was the only issue) and they won't have any argument to make. In fact, if they come back, you are under no obligation to even allow them into the house. I suspect there is something more going on that brought them there in the first place though.

    Who allowed them into your room? You need to have a talk with that person...
     
  3. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you for the very fast response!! I think there's more going on too. The person who reported it to the City let them in the main part of the house, told them my boyfriend was home and then left the house. The City people then let themselves into my room. When my boyfriend asked them to leave so they could have the conversation outside, they tried to intimmidate him, but he made them go outside. Thank you for the help!!!
     
  4. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    HELP!!! Over the weekend we fixed the cords that we were told needed to be fixed. We put locks on the doors and offered a set of keys to both the landlord and home owner, but they declined. We spoke with the landlord and the owner of the house and everyone agreed that they would not allow the city into the house if they came back since we fixed what they toodl us to fix. Yesterday one of the other renters (the one who called the city to begin with) saw that I came home for lunch and called the city to tell them we were home. She made it very obvious that she was calling them and made sure we could hear that she was talking to them. So, we locked up the room and left. When we came back an hour later, there was a City car parked outside the house with people inside looking like they were waiting for us to come home. We went inside and dropped some stuff off in the kitchen and double checked that the doors to our room were locked and left again. As we were leaving, we noticed two police cars turning onto our street in what appeared to be them going over by the City car. We came home a couple of hours later to find that our door had been broken into and a notice was on the wall going down the stairs to our room stating "Warning Substandard Structure. Do Not Enter * Unsafe to Occupy" Under section 17920.3 of the Health and Safety Code. Division of Building and Safetey City of Moorpark." I took pictures of everything and when doing so noticed the address listed on the notice isn't correct for the house. Is any of this legal? How can the city legally break into our room like they did? Any advise that can be offered is greatly appreciated!!!
     
  5. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    I suggest you contact the city agency that posted the notice.

    Yes, the city had the authority to do what they did.

    Reach out to them to see what you need to do next.

    If you possess a cause of action it is against your landlord.

    He/she rented you the unlawful premise.
     
  6. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Hmm... I am not so sure the city had any authority to force entry. Someone may have allowed them into the house, but they should not have proceeded beyond the locked door into the basement... especially if it was the police officers that did this.

    If someone wants you out they will still have to evict you. You won't be arrested or anything if you go back into the basement. Only a judge's order can force you out. Having had it declared substandard may speed up that process.

    Personally, I think you may have a legitimate claim against the city for unlawful entry into your residence. You should speak with an attorney. See Penal Code 603. Absent a fire, flooding, or some other emergency, nobody, not even the landlord, has a right to enter your residence without your permission. If you can find out who allowed the city to do this (they didn't just show up on their own and decide to break a door... someone likely signed a permission form) you might have options against that person as well.

    Also- your landlord is responsible for repairing that door and should do so as soon as possible. You need to notify your landlord of what has happened, and do it in writing, otherwise they might try to keep your deposit for such repairs.

    Just to be clear- this notice regarding substandard structure really has nothing to do with you, it is more about the landlord. The building owner is responsible for the repairs, and it is the building owner who must evict you if you refuse to leave.

    In this case it is your privacy that is being violated, and your right to be secure in your home.
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2011
  7. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Does the fact that they don't even have the address for the house written correctly (they wrote 390 and it's 396) on the notice help my case? I think I have a legitimate claim agaist the city also. They could have easily left the notice on the outside of the door to the room. That part of the house is a common area. I know who called the City and allowed them into the house and she is just another renter in the house that doesn't like us. Does she have the authority to sign a permission form? I know that she does not have a written lease and is a month to month tenant. It's possible the landlords wife my have given written premission, but I know that she also doesn't have a written lease with the home owner and is also a month to month tenant.
     
  8. army judge

    army judge Super Moderator

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    OP, have you contacted any of the many city authorities?

    Have you spoken with your city councilperson?

    Have you spoken with the mayor?

    Moose is on point, insofar, as only a judge can order your eviction.


    The mistaken address could be illegible writing.
    There is much you don't know.
    You're filling in the unknowns.

    You don't know who broke into your home.

    The authorities could claim they found the premises burglarized and entered to investigate.

    Have you reported the damage and/or the alleged illegal entry to the police?

    You were not there when this event went down.

    I suspect as this gets investigated, the authorities will tell a different story, maybe even a lie. You'll have RO prove who did anything illegal. That is impossible.
     
  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    No, she does not, nor does the landlord. Without a warrant or some kind of exigent circumstances, NOBODY has a right to enter your residence without YOUR permission, or without appropriate notice in the case of the landlord.
    The person that authorized entry into that basement is likely liable to you in some way- and is also responsible for the damaged door. If the city forced entry without getting authorization from SOMEBODY then you might have a payday in your future.
     
  10. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    On the contrary- unless the city agency that made entry into the home can produce a signed permission form from whoever allowed them access, that agency, or the person who did it, is easily on the hook.

    OP- you need to make a police report regarding the damage and forced entry. If there is no missing property then you should expect the police to handle this as unlawful entry under PC 603. Something may come to light later that justifies the actions, but the officer won't likely have that right off the bat. If I were you I would not settle for anything less than that right now. Get a criminal report on the books for the damage during the unauthorized entry into your residence and then follow-up with the agency responsible.... and talk with a local attorney as soon as you can.
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2011
  11. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Thank you both for your advise. I haven't reported the break in to the police yet and am kind of nervous about doing so since it involves the city and the police. Plus, the way they broke into the room I think is going to be hard for me to prove. I have pictures, but it's an old house and they could claim it looked that way when they got there. There isn't anything missing. The wrong address being on the notice is definately not illegible writing. It's just the opposit. Everything is very clearly printed. Based on everything you guys have told me, I also think I need to contact a local attoney. Thank you very much for your help!!
     
  12. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    It sounds like the damage is negligible- it sounded like something much more significant. If the damage is not obvious then a police report isn't so important. You still may have civil options regarding the entry into your home.
     
  13. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that it was more significant than it was. Would filing a police report to at least show that the room was entered into by the City without my authorization help at all?
     
  14. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    If anything, making a police report could help you get to the bottom of who authorized entry into your home.
    If there is no damage and no loss, a responding officer might be reluctant to take a criminal report. You may be advised that you have a civil problem on your hands... which is what it sounds like now.

    I had visions of a broken down door before.

    As mentioned above, if you have not yet contacted the city agency regarding this then you should. See what you can find out and who authorized them to enter.

    Still... the notice really means nothing to you. It means more to the owner of the building. Nobody can force you out of that basement residence without an eviction order.

    That said- the writing is on the wall. The sooner you start looking for a new residence the better. Having received the city notice you can likely break your lease without penalty.
     
  15. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I spoke with the home owner last night and he told me that the City stated they had the authority to enter my room due to being allowed inside the house by one of the other tenants. They are stating that gave them the right to enter any room in the house. There was nothing in writing authorizing them to enter my room due to this.

    Thank you for all of your help with this. You have made a very stressful situation much easiers to deal with!! :)
     
  16. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    What the city agent said was absolutely false. They had no right at all to enter your private area without your permission, especially with a locked door.
    The tenant that allowed them in did not have authority to give access to your private area.
    So... who broke the door? I have a hard time believing a city employee would have done that.... though it is possible.
     
  17. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    I just found out that one of the kids that lives in the house watched them force the door open with some type of bar. If it was a police officer that did it, could that be considered as "a peace officer engaged in the performance of his duties" as specified in penal code 603?
     
  18. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Without some kind of emergency or a search warrant, absolutely not.

    It is no different than if they came to my home while I was at work and forced their way in without my knowledge or permission. It does not matter that you rent a basement within a home they were given permission to enter. The person that allowed them entry did not have authority to give them permission to enter your private area, and they had no reason to force entry.

    It sounds to me like someone did a big no-no. The question is how much noise you want to make over it and how far you want to push it.

    You still need to contact the city to see what response you get.

    You can still talk with an attorney, but it seems your damages are somewhat minimal..... however it seems someone is trying to force you from your home and you have no way to know when/if they will return.

    The people the entered either needed your permission to enter, or the permission of the landlord, who would have to give you proper notice before making entry.

    You have a right to privacy in your home- they do not have a right to intrude.
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  19. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Also- if there really was no damage then 603 isn't all that significant.

    If there is any visible damage at all... if it is obvious by looking at it that someone forced entry, then you can consider making the complaint. Did your landlord not seem concerned about any of this??
     
  20. ctanke

    ctanke Law Topic Starter New Member

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    The damage is small (the door still work and locks). The best piece of evidence I have that they entered the room is the notice they placed inside the stairwell going down into my room. This area is within my room and the only way to get to it is by opening one of the doors to my room, which were locked.

    The landlord thinks that ignoring everything is going to make it go away and the home owner didn't care until he got a bill for $4000 from the city for an inspection fee.

    I don't really want to sue anyone, but I would if it would stop them from trying to force me out. I'm more conserned by what they were trying to do to me and what my rights are. Now that I know what they are, I have no problem standing up for myself to the City or the Police.
     

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