Tenant Troubles: Do I Have To Keep Using The Crappy Furniture That Came With My Apartment?

I am a tenant in lower Nob Hill. My building is more than 50 years old. I live in a studio apartment that I signed a six month lease for in July of 2011. The apartment came sparsely furnished with a futon bed (now removed because it was broken), a T.V./bookcase wooden thing that probably dates back to the 70’s and a small table that is filthy, stained and ewwwwww.

I want to remove the furniture and move my own in. I wasn’t sure about how long I would be here, so the sorta furnished deal was appealing at the time I moved in. Now that I know I will be here a few more years, I’d like to bring my stuff, which I had had stored when I moved.

The furniture that is already in the apartment is not worth anything. In fact, Goodwill and DAV have said that they will not take it because it is in too rough of shape.

The landlord has threatened me with lawsuits and eviction, stating that to move furniture out would be a “serious crime.” I have assured him that I will leave the apartment in better condition than what it was rented to me, but I was set on getting rid of the useless furniture.

I have searched high and low for some kind of law or statute about this and I cannot find one. I don’t mind giving up my deposit, which was 600 bucks.

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Dave’s here to answer your questions every Wednesday, so send them to him at tenant@sfappeal.com. Here’s what to make sure to include in your letter.

The best solution to this problem would be to stash the furniture in a closet until you move. I’m guessing that may not be an option for you because the apartment is a studio. I also get that the cost of storing worthless furniture is a waste of money.

The first place to look to resolve, or at least understand how to deal with issues like this, is your lease.

Check it carefully to see if it defines your obligations with respect to the firewood in your apartment. Look for specific clauses regarding the furnishings. Then read more general clauses that limit or prohibit alterations and repairs to the unit.

Read the lease as broadly as possible to see if any language that could be applied to removing the furniture could be used to evict you for breach of contract. Given his absurd claim that removing the furniture would be a “serious crime,” your landlord (or his lawyer) will be reading the lease the same way. Make sure the landlord cannot evict you for breach of the lease.

Next, make sure that the table isn’t a Federal inlay mahogany card table made by John and Thomas Seymour for which the landlord paid $30.00 but is now valued at $400,000 or that the T.V. bookcase thing isn’t an original Stickley.

As you already guessed, if you aren’t in breach of an obligation under the lease, removing the furniture is a security deposit issue. California Civil Code section 1950.5(b)(4) states that a deposit may be used by the landlord “to remedy future defaults by the tenant in any obligation under the rental agreement to restore, replace, or return personal property or appurtenances, exclusive of ordinary wear and tear, if the security deposit is authorized to be applied thereto by the rental agreement.”

You need to remind your landlord that you’re not committing any crime, he cannot evict you, and if he sues you in small claims court he will lose because he can’t prove any damages if the furniture has no value.

You can also tell him that he can use the deposit to replace the furniture in case he still wants to rent the apartment as furnished. Point out that this is a good deal for him because he can find replacement furniture on the street, just like he did the first time.

Then take lots of photos of the furniture before you toss it. The photos should be so detailed that one can almost smell the 70s. Ewwwwww!

the author

Dave Crow is an attorney who specializes in San Francisco landlord tenant law. However, the opinions expressed in these articles are those of the author, do not constitute legal advice, and the information is general in nature. Consult the advice of an attorney for any specific problem. You understand that no attorney-client relationship will exist with Dave Crow or his firm, Crow & Rose unless they have agreed to represent you. You should not respond to this site with any information that you believe is highly confidential.

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  • Thomas Wesley

    There are some landlords who thinks they are the owner of the land and they have got the full right to command anything to the renter. For this reason, it is very important for the renters to check the landlord background check before renting a land.

  • Thomas Wesley

    There are some landlords who thinks they are the owner of the land and they have got the full right to command anything to the renter. For this reason, it is very important for the renters to check the landlord background check before renting a land.

  • No you dont have to use it . I put mine in storage and bought a gorgeous chesterfield sofa ! http://www.chesterfieldsofacompany.com

  • Gamal

    If you throw out furniture you are committing a crime. You are destroying someone’s personal property and that is illegal. You may not think it is worth anything and it may not fetch any money on the market but it is worth something to people who want a furnished apartment. It was worth something to you which is why you chose a furnished apartment. If you had wanted the furniture removed you should have told the landlord before you signed the lease. If you were going to only stay 6 months then you can tell the landlord that if he wants you to stay he has to remove the furniture. It is his right to say no and it is your right to go find another place but it is not your right to stay and throw out his furniture against his will.