SHOULDN’T THE LANDLORD DEAL WITH MY NOISY, DEMANDING, DOWNSTAIRS NEIGHBORS?

Your first line of defense is your landlord. State the specifics of your problem. If the landlord refuses to intervene, you have a couple of other possible courses of action.

You could threaten to move out. If you can convince a judge that the harassment from the neighbor constitutes an intolerable situation for you, you might be able to get out of your lease without being responsible for future rent. Of course, if you have a month-to-month rental agreement instead of a lease, you can leave by giving the proper amount of notice, which is 30 days in most states. You could also decide to stay and try to go through mediation to address the issue.

HOW DOES A FIXED-TERM LEASE PROTECT TENANTS AND OWNERS OR MANAGERS?

When a tenant signs a lease, s/he is signing a legally enforceable contract. All the terms and conditions stated in the lease remain valid throughout the period specified. These constraints also apply to the owner or manager. The rent may not be raised during the specified period of a fixed term lease, nor may tenants be asked to vacate unless they’ve failed substantially to live up to the commitments they’ve made in signing the lease—if they’re seriously behind with the rent, for example. Even in a situation such as this, however, owners and managers must still follow procedures provided under the law in order to implement an eviction.

WHAT LAWS ARE THERE ABOUT SMOKING IN OR NEAR THE APARTMENT?

Landlords are free to specify that some parts (or all of) the property will be smoke free. Local law in the county of Santa Barbara and in the City of Goleta prohibits smoking within 20 feet of any building or area where smoking is prohibited. Ashtrays are also banned in this 20 feet smoke-free area. State law prohibits the smoking of any tobacco product with 25 feet of a playground or tot lot sandbox area, and also prohibits the disposal of tobacco-related waste in these areas.

CAN OUR LANDLORD MAKE US PAY BY CASHIERS CHECK?

It is perfectly within the rights of your landlord to require a more stable form of payment, especially if your roommate has bounced checks.

Your lease agreement has a clause called “joint and several liability” which implies that you and your roommate are one in the same. Hence her bounced check is your bounced check.