Yanez v. Vasquez

Facts:  A residential landlord enters into a month-to-month rental agreement for the tenant’s occupancy of a converted garage which lacked a certificate of occupancy. The tenant refuses to allow the landlord access to the unit for repairs. The landlord serves the tenant a three-day notice to perform or quit for failure to allow the landlord access to the unit. The tenant does not perform or vacate and the landlord files an unlawful detainer (UD) action to evict the tenant.

Claim: The tenant claims the notice to perform or quit is unenforceable in a UD action since the landlord failed to obtain a certificate of occupancy for the conversion of the garage to a residential unit.

Counterclaim:  The landlord claims they have the right to enforce the notice to perform or quit by a UD action since the tenant breached the obligations of the tenancy and failed to respond to perform or vacate the premises.

Holding: A California appeals court holds the landlord may not enforce a notice to perform or quit in a UD action since the underlying rental agreement is void and unenforceable due to the lack of a certificate of occupancy for the unit rented. [Carlos Yanez v. Omar Vasquez (June 29th, 2021) _CA6th_]

Editor’s note – Under a controlling local rent stabilization ordinance, the landlord may have successfully evicted the tenant by filing a Declaration of Intent to Evict and serving the tenant with a 30- or 60-day notice of eviction attached to a copy of the Declaration of Intent to Evict and providing relocation benefits. Thus, the landlord had means to properly evict the tenant and regain possession, though a UD action based on the tenant’s failure to comply with the notice to perform or quit was not the proper procedure. 

Further, California’s Tenant Protection Act (TPA) recently altered eviction practices for properties subject to “just cause” eviction procedures. For more information, click here.

Read the case text here.

Related Readings:

Real Estate Property Management

Chapter 25: Delinquent rent and the three-day notice
Chapter 26: Three-day notices to quit for nonmonetary breaches

Real Estate Principles

Chapter 81: Notices to vacate