If I don’t have a signed lease, can I be evicted with a 3-day notice?

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If I don’t have a signed lease, can I be evicted with a 3-day notice?

Been paying rent for nine months with roommate, roomie took off leaving me holding the bag. Willing to move but they are threatening to take all my stuff and change the locks. I think this is B/S and want to know if I have any way to stop this until I can move (with my property ). Again, I have not signed any lease but have proof of rent payments for months.

Asked on June 29, 2012 under Real Estate Law, California

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Even when there is no written lease, there is still a lease--an oral (verbal) lease, which creates a month to month tenancy. You may be evicted on 30 days notice, if the landlord chooses to not continue the tenancy; an eviction action may also be brought for nonpayment of rent (and note: you would be responsible for all the rent, if your roommate left), for other material breaches of the lease, or for causing damage grossly negligently or willfully to the landlord's property. However, if you are at this moment current on rent, have not damaged the property, and have not breached the lease, you should only be evicted on thirty days notice. On the other hand, if you are not current on rent, the landlord may give you a three-day notice and commence eviction actions (I believe that for non-payment of rent, he didn't even need to provide notice, but could immediately have brought an eviction action).

You may only be evicted through the courts--the landlord may not change the locks himself. To do so is an illegal eviction, and you could sue for reinstatement and/or monetary compensation.

The landlord may NOT take your belongs. If he does, you could not only sue to recover them (or for their value, if lost, destroyed) and/or contact the police--taking your belongings would be theft. (The law does NOT let landlords keep tenant possessions even if the tenant owes the landlord money.)


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