Monday, September 29, 2014

Eviction from Haunted House

Several months ago, I had the dubious honor of evicting a tenant from a haunted dwelling.  Or at least, that's what the tenant said in his Answer to the Complaint, explaining why he hadn't paid the rent.

Now obviously the landlord is supposed to maintain the apartment in a habitable condition, but "haunted" or "ghosts" or other such terms are NOT included in the California Civil Code as examples of conditions permitting the withholding of rent.  I know.  I checked.

In the hallway before trial, I asked my client whether the tenant had informed him of the haunted nature of the apartment.  My client's eyebrow went up, then he said "and I'm supposed to correct that how?"

If the repair cost is less than one month's rent, the tenant is permitted, after notifying the landlord of the problem and the landlord not correcting it within 30 days, to pay for the repair himself and deduct the cost of the repair from the rent.  When I asked the tenant if he had considered a "repair and deduct" [because after all, why would he want to live in a haunted apartment?], he told me no, because he didn't know any exorcists.

I convinced the tenant [surprisingly, this took more convincing than I initially thought it would] that he wanted to move out of the apartment, and my client [after recovering his composure from hysterical laughter], agreed to waive all the back rent.

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