Problem With Banner Political or
Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
This column on issues confronting renters and landlords is written
by Counselor of Real Estate and
Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real
Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (10 a.m.
Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet
and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the
Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law
firm representing landlords.
QUESTION: I have been a landlord for many years. Every now and
then, someone displays a banner from a window espousing a political
cause. Can I ask them to remove the sign, especially if I'm not in
ANSWER: Smith: As a rental owner's attorney, let me first
tell you that your personal beliefs have no place in the business of
landlording. Letting your personal political agenda affect your
decisions in these matters will get you into trouble.
That being said, you have a right to have your tenants keep the
unit free and clear from all clutter, debris and alterations,
including any unauthorized window coverings. A carefully worded rental
agreement which includes rules and regulations forbidding the
installation of window coverings could effectively prohibit the
display of any banner.
Further, continuing violations could subject the tenants to legal
proceedings, including giving them the boot with an unlawful detainer
Kellman: Freedom of speech is a pretty important right. I agree
with Ted that your interference with the tenant's exercise of that
right could cause some problems. You should not be concerned with the
content of a political message unless it is obscene or otherwise
unlawful. You should, however, be concerned if displaying such
messages causes a material impact on the appearance or maintenance of
The displaying of political representations, banners, pictures,
etc., could get out of hand if taken too far. Clearly a building of
wall-to-wall banners could be a problem.
It may be better to allow the use of certain limited areas for the
displaying of such things. In this way, the tenants could feel they
have an avenue of expression while you will retain a level of control
over the amount (not content) of that expression.
A check point
If I cash my refunded security deposit check, even though I dispute
the deductions that were made, do I waive my right to sue for the
Kellman: It depends on the check and any documents that were
sent along with the check. If the check was simply the return of
deposit money, then cashing it does not waive any rights to sue for
additional money you feel is owed.
The result may be different if the check, or a letter is sent with
the check, has language on it that indicates acceptance of the check
somehow constitutes payment in full of the deposit refund. In that
case, you may very well be giving up your rights to sue if you cash
There is a law that says you can probably just cross out the
"payment in full" language and cash it anyway without losing
your rights but the safer route is to return the check and demand the
A landlord who puts this language on a partial deposit refund is
certainly taking a chance. Such a check is really an offer to settle a
disputed deposit refund. The landlord is not supposed to be
negotiating with the deposit hoping you will settle for a lower
amount. He/she is obligated to simply return the deposit, less lawful
deductions, within 21 days of moving out, or face the consequences of
violating the deposit laws.
I rent a space in an R.V. park. The rules state that all spaces
must be neat and orderly at all times. Also, people with pets must
keep space cleaned up after their pets.
The people who moved next door had a dog that did its messes in my
yard, and other neighbors' yards, and the man would not clean it up. I
started complaining to the landlady two months ago.
The man got rid of the dog, but not the messes. He raked them up
into piles and left them in his yard, along with some junk and
garbage. Nothing has been done. What are my rights?
Smith: R.V. park residents -- just like apartment dwellers
-- are entitled to quiet enjoyment while living in the park. Rules and
regulations promulgated by park management are designed for the safety
and welfare of all residents in possession.
The dog mess left by the offending resident constitutes a violation
of park rules. Management should take action to avoid further
problems. Failure to maintain the premises in clean, orderly and
sanitary condition also could constitute a violation of local
ordinances. Your next step should be to call the local authorities.
YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to
answer your questions in this column, although letters
cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental
Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O.
Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail
them at email@example.com
2001 Rental Roundtable
Robert Griswold and the Real Estate
Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and
state fair housing laws. As a reminder to all owners and managers of real
estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair
Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference,
limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex,
physical disability, or familial status, or intention to make any such
preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local
fair housing laws may also apply. Be sure to inform all persons that all
dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.
Revised and Updated -
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM,
PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161
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