Ensure Proper Notice When Filing an Unlawful Detainer

In the case of Long Beach Beach┬áBrethren Manor, Inc. v. Leverett, LLBM appeals the judgment in its unlawful detainer action in favor of the tenant. Landlord contends the judgment should be reversed because the trial court erred in granting Tenant’s motion for summary judgment. Landlord originally filed its unlawful detainer on August 11, 2014, alleging defendant was a tenant, and that he failed to vacate the property after being given a 10-day notice to quit. The attached notice indicated it was served on defendant on July 29, 2014, based on an “incurable breach” of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental agreement. The notice required Tenant “to refrain from disturbing the rights and comforts of other tenants.”

The notice stated that the Tenant breached the portion of the agreement by hitting another tenant on the shoulder three times, and by engaging in a physical altercation with a different tenant. The complaint for unlawful detainer requested possession of the property, forfeiture of the rental agreement, and damages. Tenant filed an answer on August 13, 2014, generally denying the allegations with some affirmative defenses.

Tenant then filed a motion for summary judgment, which stated that there was no triable issue of material fact regarding whether the notice to quit gave Tenant enough notice. Tenant argued the agreement should be interpreted to require 30 days’ notice to quit, and since only 10 days of notice were provided, Landlord’s unlawful detainer action was premature and fatally defective because of the inadequate notice.

The initial one-year lease had expired, and the agreement had been renewed for successive one-month terms there afterwards. Tenant used paragraph 9(b)(1) of the Lease, which stated that the landlord may end the agreement effective at the end of any successive term, “based upon either material noncompliance with this Agreement, material failure to carry out obligations under any State landlord or tenant act, or other good cause. When termination of the tenancy is based on other good cause, the termination notice shall so state, at the end of a term and in accordance with the termination provisions of this Agreement, but in no case earlier than 30 days after receipt by the TENANT of the notice. Where the termination notice is based on material noncompliance with this Agreement or material failure to carry out obligations under a State landlord or tenant act, the time of service shall be in accordance with the previous sentence or State law, whichever is later.”

Defendant brought forth the basis for the termination was defendant’s alleged noncompliance with the section of the agreement. Defendant was thus entitled to 30 days of notice, because this amount of time provided for more time for termination than was set forth by State law, which is only 3 days of notice. Plaintiff filed an opposition to this, contending the motion should not be allowed due to the agreement being interpreted as requiring only the notice required by State law of 3 days of notice.

The court then granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion because it had determined there was no triable issue of fact with respect to the 30 days of notice being required under the agreement. The court rendered judgment in defendant’s favor. Court of Appeals also affirmed the judgment.

This case is important for landlords to note that they should comply with whatever the terms of the lease agreement allow. The terms of the lease agreement can sometimes even supersede State law, so it is important to review prior to serving any notices on tenants.