My landlord threatened to evict me with 30day notice b/c I refuse to pay extra $ for water (water supposed to be included in rent) , is it legal?

Asked by ETbear, Tracy, CA Sun Dec 1, 2013

I live in a one-bedroom apartment with four other apartment units in the same building. Water is supposed to be included in the rent because all units are sharing one meter, but recently the landlord noticed a 50 % increase in the water bill. So he decided to ask everyone in the building (around 15 ppl total) to pay extra $ for the water saying someone is using too much water. I just thought that was impossible for someone using THAT much water that there had to be a leak somewhere or an explainable reason for it. I refused to pay the extra because I know I didn't have anything to do with it. Moreover, if the "actual" problem" wasn't fixed, I couldn't imagine how many times all the tenant here had to pay extra. At the end my landlord threatened to evict with a 30 day notice because I refused to pay. Is it legal?

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Elena Talis, Broker, Palo Alto, CA
Mon Dec 2, 2013
First, you have to check your rental contract. If the landlord is trying to modify an existing rental agreement you may have an argument to stay in place without paying for the water. However if you are renting month-to-month the owner can give you a note to vacate at any time and for any reason. I would look for a new place instead of fighting the charges.
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Kevin and Ju…, Agent, Wildomar, CA
Mon Dec 2, 2013
As Realtors®, we are typically not attorneys and thus can not give legal advice. However, answers below should give you some guidance. Good luck!
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Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Mon Dec 2, 2013
Hi ETbear,

This might help you to arrive at some answers:

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David Tapper, Agent, Burlingame, CA
Sun Dec 1, 2013
Agents are not able to give legal advice , but from what you described, your landlord is out of line. Check you lease and ten reference it in a letter.

Also, your landlord might be required to give you a 60 day notice, not 30. Read your lease
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Trevolyn Hai…, Agent, Highland, CA
Sun Dec 1, 2013
Read your rental agreement re: the water issue. If it says that water is included then your landlord needs to include it during the period of your lease.

If you are on a month to month, the landlord can serve you with a 30 day notice for a change in the terms of your tenancy (be it adding a separate fee for water or an increase in the rent which amounts to the same thing to you).

Re: giving you a 30 day notice to vacate. If you have been in the property a year or more then he will need to give you a 60 day notice to vacate instead of 30 days (which is for tenants in a property under a year). If he gave you a 30 day notice re: the added water fee and you don't pay the new fee, then he can give you a 3 Day Pay(or perform/correct) or Quit Notice.

One good thing about moving during this time of year is that you will face less competition from other potential renters and many landlords are willing to negotiate. If you find that your current rent and the additional fee is less than other comparable properties then it may be worth just paying the new fee to save the hassle.

Good luck.
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Cindy Davis, Agent, San Diego, CA
Sun Dec 1, 2013
it all comes down to what is in your written rental agreement.
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