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Can the landlord be guilty of something (i.e. negligence) if their problem tenant is caught throwing litter (nails) on my side?

Hawthorne, CA |

If I spot my neighbor's problem tenant committing a lease violation ( i . e . throwing nails on my property ) , and I tell that landlord about it as a warning that the nails could cause damage to my property and tenants . But the neighboring landlord doesn't do anything to remove the tenant , is the landlord guilty of negligence ? How can I pressure the landlord to remove the tenant ( who has plenty of other violations : harassment violations , littering cigarettes , etc . , ) ?

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Attorney answers 3


To the extent wrongful conduct on neighboring property interferes with your tenancy, you may have a claim for public or private nuisance against the property owner. Civil Code 3479, 3480, 3493; Venuto v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp., 22 Cal.App.3d 116, 123-124 (1971).


Yes as a nuisance to your enjoyment of your property.

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Yes but the legal theory would not be "negligence". Under California law, all leases have the implied covenant of "quiet enjoyment". (California Civil Code, § 1927). The landlord (and management company) has the duty to preserve the quiet enjoyment of all tenants. (Davis v. Gomez (1989) 207 Cal.App.3d 1401, 1404.)

Basically, what you as the tenant want to establish is a "constructive eviction" defense. The concept of a “constructive eviction” exists under the rubric of a breach of the covenant of quiet enjoyment that is implied in every rental agreement. (Stoiber v Honeychuck (1980) 101 Cal.App.3d 903, 925–926.)

Substantial interference is required to establish a breach of quiet enjoyment. An interference by the landlord "by which the tenant is deprived of the beneficial enjoyment of the premises amounts to a constructive eviction if the tenant so elects and surrenders possession, and the tenant will not be liable for rentals for the portion of the term following his eviction." (Kulawitz v. Pacific Paper Co. (1944) 25 Cal.2d 664, 670.)

Minor inconveniences and annoyances are not actionable breaches of the implied covenant of quiet enjoyment. To be actionable, the landlord's act or omission must substantially interfere with a tenant's right to use and enjoy the premises for the purposes contemplated by the tenancy. (Petroleum Collections Inc. v. Swords (1975) 48 Cal.App.3d 841, 846.)

Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.