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The Ins and Outs of Landlord-Tenant Disputes: An Interview with Jonathan D. Winters of The Law Offices of Jonathan D. Winters

By Jonathan D. Winters

Please tell us a little bit about your company and the services you offer.

The Law Office of Jonathan D. Winters is a general law practice dedicated to helping people in the community solve problems, whatever they may be. We specialize in civil litigation with emphasis on personal injury. Areas of law we practice include landlord-tenant disputes, HOA cases, habitability issues, toxic mold, water leaks, bed bugs, real estate cases, discrimination, employment, business disputes, auto, and slip and fall cases.

Is there a common misconception that most people have about landlord-tenant law?

Common misconception people have about landlord/tenant law is that it is easy and that you can do it yourself and don't need a lawyer. Anytime you need to go to the big court (not small claims), you need a lawyer to help you navigate the system because of the procedures involved.

What are some common types of landlord-tenant disputes that you've seen arise in Southern California?

Common types of landlord disputes I have seen mainly cover habitability issues, where a tenant complains and a landlord does not act reasonably or timely. Issues such as water leaks, mold, etc. can present emergency situations that need to be handled immediately and properly to prevent damage or harm.

Can you briefly explain the basic rights that tenants have when it comes to disputes with their landlord?

The basic rights tenants have with their landlords stem from their contract. In exchange for a tenant's payment of rent, which is their end of the bargain, the landlord must furnish a unit fit for human habitation. If it isn't, then rent should be prorated.

What obligation does a landlord have in California state have after being notified about a tenant's rental problem?

After being notified by a tenant, a landlord must act reasonably and timely. He or she must act with reasonable care, and must make a reasonable inspection and correct any habitability issues or at least give a warning or make disclosure while they are getting corrected.

When should people who are having problems with their landlord consult a lawyer?

People who are having problems with a landlord should document, document and document it, and contact a lawyer for help immediately because oftentimes landlords can and do attempt to destroy or cover-up evidence, and preservation of evidence is key to being able to successfully help a tenant when dealing with a difficult landlord.

Do you have any tips to help tenants/renters successfully resolve an issue with their landlord?

The best tip I can give tenants to resolve matters with a landlord is to act reasonably and put it in writing. Always put things in writing when you complain. You might offer suggestions or ways to compromise a dispute, or offer mediation as an alternative to legal action.

What's the best way for people to contact your company?

The best way people can contact my office is to simply call us at 562-497-0472 and make an appointment or you can email us at our website:

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