A Code of Civil Procedure section 1179 motion for relief from forfeiture of lease in California is the topic of this article. This motion is made pursuant to the provisions of Code of Civil Procedure section 1179 on the grounds of hardship and can be used to obtain relief against any forfeiture of a lease or rental agreement, whether written or oral.
Code of Civil Procedure section 1179 states in pertinent part that, “The court may relieve a tenant against a forfeiture of a lease or rental agreement, whether written or oral, and whether or not the tenancy has terminated, and restore him or her to his or her former estate or tenancy, in case of hardship, as provided in Section 1174.”
The party filing a motion for relief from forfeiture of a lease or rental agreement under section 1179 should include a declaration with detailed facts supporting their claims of hardship, and their claims that any breach was not willful or in bad faith. Tenants who failed to pay their rent due to losing their job but who now have the money to pay all of the back rent and all other damages and costs included in any judgment have a good argument for relief from forfeiture, particularly if they can show that they had always paid their rent on time before losing their job and that they are now employed again and plan to pay their rent on time from now on.
A noticed motion for relief from a forfeiture of a lease or rental agreement should be served and filed at least five (5) calendar days before the hearing although in certain situations the motion may be made orally.
A California Court of Appeal has ruled that a court has broad equitable discretion to relieve a tenant from forfeiture and restore them to their former tenancy in cases of hardship. The law absolutely abhors forfeitures. The Court must impose statutory conditions such as full payment of the rent that is due or full performance of all conditions and covenants of the lease or rental agreement.
Relief from forfeiture is more likely to be granted if the lessor can be placed in the same position as if the breach had not occurred. The principal reason for this is that the penalty of forfeiture is essentially designed to secure the payment of a certain sum of money. If that money is paid with interest, the true purpose of the forfeiture is satisfied.
Courts can also exercise their equitable powers and balance the equities allowing them to take into account all of the relevant circumstances such as whether the breach by the tenant was willful or in bad faith, whether the landlord has acted in good or bad faith, etc.
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