When is it important
to see a Lawyer ?

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We live in a complex society filled with so many laws and regulations which constantly change and evolve such that even lawyers have difficulty keeping up with all of them.    In fact it is practically impossible for Lawyers to know all the laws.   Lawyers are sometimes forced to enlist the aid of other Lawyers who are very experienced in certain fields of law for assistance.  It is easy to understand why a non-Lawyer can have serious difficulty handling certain situations.  Such problems include not understanding the laws, not being aware of the laws or misapplying the laws.  Making errors in legal situations can have serious consequences.  To help protect against such consequences, sometimes it is necessary to seek the assistance of a Lawyer.  But how does one know when to do so or whom to contact?

Is the situation really a Legal matter?

In the world of Landlord Tenant and occupant Law, a legal situation may include most any agreement, demand, complaint or document as between a Landlord and Tenant.  These can include issues of oral agreements, complaints about treatment of a tenant, letters of complaint, written notes and ANY official notice about the tenancy.  Notices are used for such things as demanding unpaid rent, demands to enter the residence by the Landlord, claims of breaching rules in a lease or attempts to terminate the tenancy (evict).  They should be in writing although sometimes, they are attempted by verbal demands or threats.  Many times a simple note written by or to a Landlord will decide who will win or lose a case.  Clearly, it is an important legal matter when an eviction lawsuit has been filed and served.  In that case immediate action is required to protect your rights.

Can situations be handled with simple common sense?

The law sometimes lends itself to an understanding with simple common sense.  Things that seem wrong are many times illegal.  Unfortunately, in Landlord-Tenant matters, the law in California contains many aspects that defy common sense.  The use of common sense alone in legal situations can lead to serious consequences. Consider  the following examples:

Paying the rent on the fourth day of a three day notice to pay the rent seems a trivial thing (only one day late).  It can, however, mean the absolute loss of the tenants rights in the rental unit and lead to a swift and expensive eviction.

If the landlord tells you to move and you do, you can be held to pay the balance of the lease even though you moved because you were told to do so.

If the tenant feels the landlord owes him/her money (separate agreement  for something, labor, personal debt etc.), it seems O.K. to deduct this debt from the next month's rent.   Wrong.  The obligation to pay rent is generally a separate one.  The withholding of rent may only be done when there is a substantial breach of the warranty of habitability or when authorized by code.

Tenants often misinterpret the Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.  It seems that you get a choice;  i.e. pay the rent or move in those three days and the landlord "forfeits" the lease.  Not true.   Not paying within the three days creates potential liability for the rent (up to the balance of the lease)  whether you move or not.

Can I represent myself if I get an eviction lawsuit?

Which Attorney should I call?

Landlord-Tenant Law and the laws involving possession before and after a foreclosure are very technical and complex.  It is an area of the Law that really requires specialized assistance.  The best and specialized law firms in San Diego who routinely do the evictions for Landlords or Banks are experts in the field.   

You need to understand your rights and make plans to protect yourself (and your family) 
before matters get too far involved. Going against these landlord and bank attorneys without proper planning and representation by an experienced attorney representing you is very unwise. You can easily lose your rights whether you were innocent and in the right or not. Also, retaining a general practicing Attorney for help is very risky.  He/she will most likely not know all the technical aspects of these cases and will not be able to best protect you as well as being at a distinct unfair disadvantage in court.  It is best to call upon someone who is specialized in defending these situations and cases, not a general practicing attorney taking a shot at it with your case.  You would not see a dentist for an eye exam.

At the Tenants Legal Center of San Diego, we defend tenants every day.  We have successfully assisted thousands of tenants and occupants protecting their rights and credit record.  With our experience in such matters, and with a broad and comprehensive knowledge of Landlord-Tenant law, we either favorably settle or win most all of our cases.  

What about Attorneys fees?

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California law for San Diego is applied in these pages.  Such laws may or may not be applicable in other jurisdictions.  The information provided herein is of a general nature and is not intended to be taken as specific legal advice.  For legal advice in a particular situation, promptly consult with an appropriate attorney.