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Lease guarantor California

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In 2006 I signed a C.A.R. (California Association of Realtors) Residential Lease and Month-to-Month Rental Agreement as Guarantor for my son and his family. That lease ended in May 2007. The landlord asked them to stay and did a letter agreement with them requesting my signature again as guarantor, I reluctantly signed and paid her when I was obligated between June 2006 and May 31, 2008. When the second year ended, the landlord again requested my signature and I refused. She wrote her letter agreement writing in that I was responsible although I did not sigh and had never seen the letter until much later. She evicted my son and his family in May 2009. My son and his wife voluntarily signed a Note and Stipulation and Judgment with the landlord but never paid her a dime.

She went attorney shopping and finally came up with one who took her case and is suing me saying that I am still the guarantor and that although the original lease has an ending date and the two letter agreements have ending dates she claims that they were just extensions and all the terms of the original lease are still in effect. Her attorney is using case law from Central Building LLC v. Cooper (2005) 127 Cal App 4th (1053) a commercial lease to substantiate their case. Also, an attorney friend of mine told her attorney that due to the Note and Stipulation and Judgment in August 2009 that a Novation had been established, of course her attorney rejects both of these claims.

This is nothing but a malicious claim as her attorney has stated that it would be better to pay her than pay my attorney to defend their frivilous claim (frivilous claim = my words). This is a "cost of defense" malicious prosecution as I see it. The mediation will take place on June 30 at 10:00 A.M. and I am putting together everything I can find.

Also, the California Association of Realtors Legal Hotline says, and they are the folks who wrote the lease form that the guarantor section is a "limited" guarantee and not a "continuing guarantee" as they claim.


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You do understand that you didn't bother to post a question, and that it's not helpful to expect folks to guess precisely what it is you want to know. :)

Obviously, we can't read the docs from here, but I hope there's not language in any of the past agreements that effectively state that if the named tenants continue to live there past the expiration of a given term, that you aren't on the hook. You also don't say, but I presume the time for which the son owes is during a point in time beyond the agreements you signed. If your agreements covered that period, presumably she would have sued ALL of you.

If the agreements say they are effective through X and the period of time for which son didn't pay fell outside of X and the document doesn't have any language as previously mentioned that effectively keep you on the hook so long as the tenant lives on the property, then I'd say you oughtn't have a difficult time winning. Obviously, you need to file a response to any lawsuit in a timely manner, and show up in court. I'd have filed a motion to dismiss, but we can't know which court they used (presumably not small claims). Certainly free to argue the novation angle as well. You don't HAVE to pay an attorney to represent you; you can wing it, with or without informal advice from your friend.

"Also, the California Association of Realtors Legal Hotline says, and they are the folks who wrote the lease form that the guarantor section is a "limited" guarantee and not a "continuing guarantee" as they claim."

Like I said, if it doesn't contain certain language that survives any expiration of term, you shouldn't have a problem convincing a judge to tell the person to pound sand. Again, presumably the landlord wouldn't waste her time with two lawsuits when she ought to have sued you all if she felt you were on the hook when she sued your son. Not your fault that she hasn't bothered to go after him to collect (wage garnishment, whatever, or has been thwarted on that score).

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Sorry I didn't make things clear. The allegation of the landlord is that because she wrote letter agreements allowing my son and his family to stay in the house, she says the lease never expired.The original lease expired June 14, 2007.

The guarantor section states:

Question is regarding the Guarantor provision on page 6 of the Residential Lease and Month-To-Month Rental Agreement. Which states:

"GUARANTEE: In consideration of the execution of the Agreement by and between Landlord and Tenant and for valuable consideration, receipt of which is hereby acknowledged, the undersigned (“Guarantor”) does hereby:

(i) guarantee unconditionally to Landlord and Landlord’s agents, successors and assigns, the prompt payment of Rent or other sums that become due pursuant to this Agreement, including any and all court costs and attorney fees included in enforcing the Agreement;

(ii) consent to any changes, modifications or alterations of any TERM in this Agreement agreed to by Landlord, and

(iii) waive any right to require landlord and/or Landlord’s agents to proceed against Tenant for any default occurring under this Agreement before seeking to enforce this Guarantee."

Is this meant to be a "continuing guarantee" or a "limited guarantee"?

And the word TERM in (ii) above, is it meant to be a term in the agreement or the term of the agreement?

Do those changes extend to an extension of the lease between Landlord and Tenant NOT signed by Guarantor.

Landlord contends that the word TERM as used in this section means the term of the lease and not a TERM meaning a WORD or PHRASE within that document.

Your thoughts?

[This post has been

edited to remove style elements that were causing it to display improperly.


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Please post follow-ups as an answer/reply to the existing post.

In future, please feel free to underline pertinent language vs. make the font huge (it needs to be read in context regardless). :)

Most legal documents have something in them that's written ambiguously (though I've worked on many where pretty much every fracking word is explicitly defined). :) One interprets the language depending on one's motives/wishes and naturally, landlord wants to think it turns a limited guarantee into one that covers every moment son spent there. Just making a blanket consent to changes that the landlord-tenant make in an agreement (not a bright idea, but no harm done here I think) doesn't mean you're continuing to guarantee any arrangement that they agree to, however. Landlord needs a more artfully worded guarantee. That's your argument regardless of the landlord's position. The landlord's position as to definition of "term" is cockamamie, in my opinion. One presumes this attorney friend explained it to you and you're just asking for a second opinion.

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