California Attorney and Real Estate Broker Chris Adishian answers the question, “What to do when a tenant refuses to pay the rent?” at the South Bay Association of Realtors’ event, “Commercial Attorney Panel-Hot Legal Issues for Commercial Real Estate” on March 5, 2014.
Question: “What can I do if my tenant refuses to pay the rent?”
Answer: “Well this is a good question, which Jim very thoroughly covered on the residential side, and I’ll just highlight one thing that sort of permeates all of law is there’s a general distinction between commercial and how we handle people in a commercial business setting, and how we handle people in a residential or consumer setting. And generally speaking in big picture, the law is much more stringent if you’re dealing with consumer tenants or residential tenants, and a little more loose on the commercial business side because they figure, ‘Well, either deep pockets, or they know what they’re doing, or we don’t need to be as paternalistic or make as many careful statements on the notices.’
But the process is the same: tenants not paying their rent, it’s a 3-day notice. Now it has some of the same requirements, but generally, just for illustrative purposes, if you’re off by 10 cents on a residential 3-day notice, that might void the notice, and then the tenant gets to restart the clock and go, ‘Oh no, you’ve got to serve me another notice. That wasn’t proper because it was 10 cents off.’
But the commercial one is generally the courts are, ‘Well, if you’re in the ballpark, the guy knows that he’s not paying his rent, so we’re not going to hold you up on a technicality. There aren’t a lot of individual rights we’re concerned about or due process rights we’re concerned about. So it’s still a 3-day notice, and if they don’t pay, then you’re still into an unlawful detainer.’ An unlawful detainer is ‘legal-ese’ for the eviction process, and it’s an expedited calendar versus a regular civil calendar.
And usually, especially with the
court consolidations that have gone on in L.A., there’s very few court rooms that are unlawful detainers and that’s pretty much all they do, 9am-5pm, every day, is tenants and Landlords in that courtroom all day arguing about rent and eviction. And it’s not like the trials you see on TV, or you read about the OJ trials. These trials are like, ‘OK, do you want to pay the rent?’ ‘No.’ ‘Do you want to move out and reach a settlement?’ ‘No.’ ‘Do you want to have a trial?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘OK, let’s go.’ And they have a trial right there. And it’s over in 10 minutes. And the vast majority of the time, the trial is judgment for the Landlord, tenant needs to move out within so many days, otherwise they’ll get the sheriff.”
Adishian Law Group is a California law firm with a statewide practice in the areas of Corporate law, Employment law, Real Estate law and Mediation Services. Adishianlaw.com is one of the oldest continually operating law firm websites on the Internet. The firm serves its clientele via three offices located in the major business hubs of El Segundo, Palo Alto and San Francisco. As of March 2013, Adishian Law Group, P.C. has represented individual and corporate clients located across 20 California counties, 4 States outside of California and 9 foreign countries — in over 340 legal matters.
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