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I recently moved out of a room that I rented in a house in Oakland, California. In my lease it under terms of vacating the premise my landlord added a clause stating:

"All moving must be done in rear of driveway or pay $250 (near basement door)"

However, my parent's truck was too large to fit in his driveway and back up to place designated, so my parents parked in the street and we packed everything up in the street (taking about 45 minutes). The landlord showed up on the premise during the last ~10-15 minutes of moving and cleaning the room. He told me that I was not supposed to park there, and stated that he told me this the day before. However, I told him (person-to-person) two days prior to moving out, that I was moving out Friday morning and requested the driveway clear, which he obliged; however, he stated nothing about where I could or couldn't park.

I also asked him if he would do a walk-through of the room with me, to verify any damages, after I moved and cleaned the room out, which he did not do while I was present and simply stated "I'm sure it's fine" -- he also refused to do a pre-move-out inspection that's in written as a Right in my lease.

My question: Is this actually enforceable, since I did park in a public space and not necessarily on his property?

I had trouble with this landlord since I moved into the house. I have a brief write up of my concerns posted here on Reddit prior to my move. I did follow through with what was suggested in the thread (take photos, document, save texts, etc.), but I've yet to talk to a lawyer, as I don't think it's quite that time

It will be three weeks since I moved out on the August 21st. I'm going to wait a week until the 28th to send him a certified letter requesting my full deposit be returned if it already hasn't, and if I don't hear anything back I'll probably be taking him to small claims court.

  • In my mind "moving" and "parking" are two different things. Moving is taking the stuff out of the apartment. Parking is where the vehicle is. Did you move out at the end of the driveway near the basement door and take the stuff to a truck parked in front? Or did you like take the stuff out the front door completely ignoring the end of driveway basement door instruction? (Which, btw, is vague and confusing but perhaps obvious to someone who has seen the place.) – jqning Aug 18 '15 at 2:02
  • @jqning, nothing was really "moved" to anyplace in the driveway. Everything was moved directly from my room to the truck, which was at the northwest corner of this crude illustration – user1058 Aug 18 '15 at 4:22
  • Im a little confused still. 'moving must be done in rear of driveway' is kinda vague. First, your room is not near the basement door. Your room is in the rear of the driveway from what it looks like. As far as where you park, the contract has nothing to state that you can't park on public streets. I would find that one hard to hold. If anything, a Judge would have a hard time too – Jdahern Aug 19 '15 at 23:45
  • FYI: I had a landlord over charge me for painting (and other things) the house. I had a solid case in reality, but decided not to pursue small claims court. The reason was I just wanted to be done with them. So instead I just added a review about them and left it at that. The house stood vacant for over a year. – Jdahern Aug 19 '15 at 23:47
  • Also, I dont have the statute off hand, but, you are entitled to a breakdown of your security deposit deductions. Its up to you if you push to get your money back. – Jdahern Aug 19 '15 at 23:48
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Agreement

You say:

my landlord added a clause stating: "All moving must be done in rear of driveway or pay $250 (near basement door)"

Was this addition made at the time you signed the lease or subsequently? This matters because the terms of a contract cannot be changed unilaterally, they must be agreed. If the change happened after the lease was signed then , unless you agreed to it, it has no effect whatsoever.

Since that resolution is boring; I will assume that it was always there.

Enforcability

Is this actually enforceable, since I did park in a public space and not necessarily on his property?

Yes, it is enforceable. People can agree in a contract to do (or not do) anything so long as that thing is not illegal - that is what a contract is; a legally enforceable agreement for two people to do certain things.

You agreed "All moving must be done in rear of driveway ... (near basement door)" and you didn't do what you agreed to do. Therefore you broke a term of the contract. It doesn't matter that you don't know why he wanted you to do this or if it was reasonable or if it meant that you couldn't use your parent's truck - if these were issues for you they should have been raised before you agreed to do it. If the clause said "When moving out you will wear a blue double breasted suit with a yellow and purple bow tie" then that is what you must do.

Consequences

There are a number of options open to the wronged party when the other party breaches a term of a contract. The most relevant in these circumstances is to sue for damages.

So how much are damages? Well, they are an amount to restore the wronged party to the position they would have been in if you hadn't broken the agreement.

In situations where damages can be hard to calculate, contracts can make a provision for liquidated damages; a pre-agreed amount of what the damage will be: in this case "$250". However:

In the United States, Section 2-718(1) of the Uniform Commercial Code provides that, in contracts for the sale of goods:

Damages for breach by either party may be liquidated in the agreement but only at an amount which is reasonable in the light of the anticipated or actual harm caused by the breach, the difficulties of proof of loss, and the inconvenience or nonfeasibility of otherwise obtaining an adequate remedy. A term fixing unreasonably large liquidated damages is void as a penalty.

This largely mirrors the common law rule, which applies to other types of contracts under the law of most US states.

On the face of it, it would appear that $250 may be "unreasonably large" given the nature of the breach where it appears that the landlord has actually suffered no damage.

  • Thank you for the reply. It sounds like I made a mistake, and probably should have questioned or asked for a revision to that clause when I moved in. – user1058 Aug 18 '15 at 0:17
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    Seems weird. I don't know about the US, but in jurisdictions I know of the landlord would only be able to specify where you can't park, as long as he owns these spaces. – Peter Aug 31 '15 at 10:55
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    "you didn't do what you agreed to do" -- well, that might be disputed since for the life of me I cannot work out whether the questioner did or did not perform "all moving" in the rear of the driveway. I suppose since he carried his things along the length of the driveway to the truck, the landlord will argue that some of the moving took place elsewhere than in the rear of the driveway, that is to say the clause forbids the questioner to carry stuff through the front of the driveway (but presumably doesn't forbid driving a moving van out)... – Steve Jessop Aug 4 '16 at 10:09
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    ... Read like that, the clause would also demand that if the questioner had no truck at all, and in fact was moving just across the street, then by carrying their stuff along the length of the drive and over the street they would be in breach. Read like that, parking is irrelevant to the requirement that "moving" must not take place in the front of the driveway. – Steve Jessop Aug 4 '16 at 10:09

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