Lanlord Refuses to Give the New Keys to the Tenant

Nadya_25December 31, 2004

The place I currently live in is a bit unique. ItÂs located at the top of the hill in Hollywood Hills, CA. Since all of the cars must be parked at the bottom of the hill there is an elevator that services the houses that are located at the top of the hill. The elevator is located in a tower, which can only be accessed through the key-locked gate. Once you get past the gate, you have to use another key to call the elevator and finally once you are inside of the cabin you have to use the key again to make the elevator go.

There is an Elevator Association that is responsible for the elevator maintenance. On December 1st, 2004 they had both the gate and the elevator re-keyed and posted a note telling the home-owners to pick up their keys from the Homeowners Association and for the tenants to pick up their keys from their landlords.

IÂm in a dispute with my landlord right now and he absolutely refuses to give me my new keys. Since December 1st I havenÂt had any access to the elevator, IÂve been having to use a very steep and long staircase (and on top of everything itÂs very dark at night  it goes thorough very thick trees and itÂs quite scary when you are by yourself) to access my house, which makes it practically impossible for me to do anything. For example: I canÂt go grocery shopping, because I canÂt haul the heavy bags up that staircase (I barely make it up by myself as it is); I canÂt have a friend of mine over, because heÂs leg is broken; I canÂt move anything in or out - IÂve been needing to empty my storage but I canÂt now, because itÂs an impossible task without an elevator.

Please HELP!!! What can I do to make him give me the keys?

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What is the nature of the dispute with the landlord? That may well have a bearing on his refusal to hand over the keys.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 11:57AM
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Thank you for taking time to respond. Yes, of course it has everything to do with the refusal to give me the new keys... I reported several major problems with the apartment (leaking roof, faulty wiring, flooding of the kitchen when shower is on, garbage disposal broken and kitchen sink is un-usable, etc etc etc) to the landlord at the end of September (7 days before new months rent was due). By the time October rent became due the landlord still hasnÂt lifted a finger to fix any of the problems I reported. So I held back rent. He filed eviction and began all kinds of retaliatory actions: cutting off my electricity for a couple of hours here and there, physically disconnecting my internet cable at the cable box and after I figured that out and connected it back he simply cut the cable that was running through his storage space in half and put a pad lock on the storage door , so I couldnÂt get in and try to fix it; hosing off the deck above me and ruining all of my stuff that was sitting below by getting it wet, etc etc and the latest one is the key withholding. I do have a trial date set but itÂs not until the end of February and I canÂt wait that long until I have my keys. So I was wondering if I can somehow force him to give me the keys or may be the Elevator Association can be forced to give me the keys. After all they are the once ultimately responsible for anything to do with the elevator, including issuing keys.

    Bookmark   December 31, 2004 at 2:55PM
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I don't know about the law in CA... I can tell you about Ohio though. In Ohio you would be wrong. The tenant can not withhold rent. You have to put the rent money in a 3rd party escrow with a trustee, our county court offers that service and disput resolution. You can't just not pay your rent and expect to not get evicted.

Your landlord is wrong to not fix the things that need done and to withhold the key, but no more wrong than you are...

You don't have a leg to stand on with the key until you pay the rent.


    Bookmark   January 1, 2005 at 11:28PM
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Well, in California you are allowed to withhold rent under certain circumstances:

It could be argued that the faulty wiring and leaking roof are threatening her health and safety. She informed the landlord and gave him plenty of time to fix it before withholding. It would have been smarter to have put it in escrow or involved legal aid first, since withholding rent is risky as outlined in the above link, but what's done is done -- he (being the landlord) shouldn't be able to do what he's been doing.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2005 at 7:00PM
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