Legal Question in Landlord & Tenant Law in California

how does lache apply to landlord tenant law inn the floowing. Tenant and landlord signed a lease that had a provision for the landlord to pay untitlites. The provision stated that if the utilties were more than $50 a month the tenant would pay the difference. The utilities were in the landlords name. Unfortunately neither the tenant nor the landlord realized that payment prvision was in the lease. When the tenant ended the lease after 3 years the landlord came upon the provision and asked the tenant to pay all the back months utilties which totaled more than $50. He refused so the landlord took the $1800 or so out of the tenants deposit to get himself reimbursed. Is the landlors on firm gorund? Does lache apply?

Asked on 2/02/12, 9:13 am

1 Answer from Attorneys

George Shers Law Offices of Georges H. Shers
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Laches is the equitable notion that even though a person might have a legal right to something, it would be unfair to allow him that item or dollar amount because too much time had passed and the other person had reasonably relied upon the lack of action to their detriment. It is not a hard and fast rule that it clearly applies or does not apply in the gray area between what is fairly obvious. Here, I would guess that three years is not an unreasonable time and their was no harm to you in the landlord's behavior.

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2/02/12, 11:30 am

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