Can lease limit damages awarded tenant in court to $500 dollars?

User Forum Topic
Submitted by birmingplumb on October 6, 2012 - 7:09am

Sad update to pregnant daughters California nightmare leasing a unit as per previous post(s)

We plan on moving them out due to material misrepresentation ( no air , when leasing agent advertisement said air conditioned) and landlords latest counter off" we install air, our expense ($3800) in return he reduces rent by $100 dollars per month, but we must sign a new 3 year lease, and association must approve air unit. (impossible due to rules on "eyesore" as per other neighbors who have air but just put it in anyway)

But the daughter said "I think there was something in the lease I read limiting amount of money damages that can be awarded reguarding this lease to $500"

Help! If so he owns our deposit and the October rent we paid in order to not break lease waiting on counter offer. Others here have said the lease is void and no notice is required to move, so if the lease is void-assuming-how can any clause-legal or otherwise be held to be binding, such as $500 limit?

Submitted by PCinSD on October 6, 2012 - 11:27am.

Send the landlord written notice that he is in breach of the lease agreement and she is moving out.

I haven't done the research, but I'm willing to bet that the limitation of damages clause is unenforceable. Any clause that purports to waive a right the tenant would otherwise have is unenforceable. In my opinion, this would qualify.

If the landlord would legally be responsible for damages caused by their negligence, breach, etc., they cannot contract around that. Fundamentally unfair and unenforceable for basic policy reasons.

She should probably check the lease to see if it contains an attorneys' fees clause.

Submitted by scaredyclassic on October 6, 2012 - 2:11pm.

Wait--is one party heavier than the other?

Submitted by EconProf on October 6, 2012 - 4:16pm.

San Diego's weather is now back to normal, and she would not likely need AC until late spring--not counting a couple of days of Santa Ana spells which she can live through. So reconsider moving out and sacrificing all the money already paid, especially since she is paid up for October. Meantime, take this thing to an attorney! If you can prove misrepresentation about AC from the beginning, the LL is the one who should be worried here. A good attorney will scare the bejesus out of this amature, and then likely negotiate a compromise and revised rental agreement.

Submitted by patb on January 21, 2013 - 10:46am.

I"m just a first year law student, so, i'm kind of talking out of my ass, here,

but, we basically have 2 major areas of civil law : Contracts and Tort.

In Contract 2 people make an agreement over time for value exchange.
Contracts can be very broad, as long as they don't violate public policy.
(I.E. No contract for slavery, prostitution, child sales, organ sales,,,)


Tort law is the stuff of harms. It's a different type of harm where your rights or
person are harmed and settled with monetary damages.

Now the general rule is that in all torts, there is a contract action and in all contract actions, there is a tort. Not 100% but you look for them.

so here's the deal.

if the contract had a material mistrepesentation, that's fraud, so you can
breach the entire contract, it's null and void on it's face, and the damage limits won't matter.

now in tort, you would maintain your rights, so

if the contract was for say a warehouse, and the warehouse roof was bad, and the goods you kept in there were damaged, you could be limited to $500 in damages.

if the roof fell in and hurt you, you would likely have a claim for negligence
even though the lease limits your "Contract" damages, you would likely
maintain your "Tort" injuries.

Now it's a different legal standard.

Tort is about preponderance of evidence and breach of duty, while contract
ties to the reading of the letter of the agreement.

so, if i haven't confused you then i've enlightened you

Submitted by emdeplam on January 21, 2013 - 11:30am.

not enforceable...

Demand a move out inspection in writing. If not done, the deposit must be returned. If not it is 3X damages in small claims everyday. California is amazing for a well informed tenant.

Put everything in writing and do some basic background on Cal tenants rights. If you have a doc trail in writing you are in a very strong position.

The attempt to limit to $500 is a big flag for amateur hour landlord and will likely piss the judge off.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.