This upstairs neighbor, constantly allows her children to harass me with loud banging, jumping or stomping in place, running ,any annoying noise possible. Basically, bullies, she also stomps , never walk, and drop objects,anytime of day. I have complained to managers, local police. She seem to be some kind of nut. Whenever, she sees me, she give me uneasy stares. I feel very uncomfortable.The manager seems to be in kahoots, with this neighbor, and does nothing, which give this tenant more leavage to harassment against me
So far you have done all the right things by reporting this to the management and the police. You might want to go one step further and investigate who actually owns the property and attempt to deal with that individual instead of the manager. You need to check with the city and see what the decibel limit is where the city has drawn the line in regard to what equates to disturbing the peace. You would have to measure and record the noise levels and show the evidence to the police. On this basis, they might get a little more interested in your situation. Otherwise, you are pretty much left to file an action in Small Claims Court which you can sue for up to $10,000 and see if you get a sympathetic judge. If you got an award, probably in any amount, that would probably cool your neighbor's jets. If she continued with the same rude behavior in the future, you could file another lawsuit based upon the new behavior.
I hope this is helpful.
JOHN N. KITTA
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Sadly or luckily, the law does not have a solution for all of life's problems. If you have already contacted the police and the management, you have covered all your "legal" bases and should probably look for a new place. A civil lawsuit for nuisance, for example, would be very difficult because it would be very difficult to put a dollar number on your damages.
The above is general legal and business analysis. It is not "legal advise" but analysis, and different lawyers may analyse this matter differently, especially if there are additional facts not reflected in the question. I am not your attorney until retained by a written retainer agreement signed by both of us. I am only licensed in California. See also avvo.com terms and conditions item 9, incorporated as if it was reprinted here.
I assume you and the neighbor are tenants of the same landlord?
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.)
If you as a tenant unilaterally breach the lease and move out without the approval of the landlord or management company, then the landlord has the right to take your security deposit for the unpaid rent, and bring a lawsuit to recover the rent due for the remaining duration of the lease. Typically, since the landlord has the duty to mitigate damages by finding a replacement tenant, the lawsuit will not be filed right away. A judgment against you which is not satisfied (unpaid) will certainly reduce your credit score.
A tenant will have the opportunity to fight a lawsuit in the event the landlord or management company decides to sue for the balance of the rent due.
Basically, what you as the tenant want to establish in your defense 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.)
If you are a tenant who makes little or no attempts to inform the landlord of the noise problems and just quietly move out, this fact would not look favorably in the eyes of the court or a jury. To protect your credit, a much better approach would be to negotiate a lease termination agreement whereby you agree to pay a certain sum in exchange for a full release of any and all obligations under the lease.
However, if the landlord is not willing to enter into a lease termination agreement, then I suggest that before you move out, write another letter to the landlord or management company documenting the entire chronology of events, from the inception of the problem to the multiple requests you made to the landlord or management company regarding this issue.
Frank W. Chen is licensed to practice law in the State of California. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, consult your own attorney.
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