Week old chicks in my garage in Northern California--landlord says they have to go- Advice & HELP Pl

Discussion in 'Local Chicken Laws & Ordinances' started by California_chickie, May 26, 2012.

  1. California_chickie

    California_chickie Chirping

    Jan 1, 2012
    Napa valley, Ca
    Thanks for reading my thread. It is a long one, but I wanted to be thorough. Please help!
    I could use some advice! Here's the scoop:

    Can I keep chicks in my garage, for 6 weeks tops while they are in the brooder? My landlord says no.

    I live in a very uppity little town in the Napa Valley. It's adorable, but snobby. A year and a half ago, my boyfriend rented an adorable little house with a huge backyard. I moved in part time and wanted to get chickens. Our landlord is an old woman who is very particular, and at first we thought it was kind of cute-- now she is a nightmare. We asked her permission to get chickens, and she told us we needed a permit. I contacted the county, went through all the motions, and told her so. We have everything documented via emails, etc. It turns out, we don't even need a permit-- but can only have a maximum of 6 chickens. No problem. The landlord informed us that she didn't want the chickens out of the enclosure at ANY TIME-- because there is a large Oak tree in the backyard and she said that the poop from the chickens would destroy the roots of the Oak tree. Whatever. Fine.

    She comes to the house 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) to work in the front yard and water the backyard. I do not like this at all, but there was nothing I could do about it. She comes whenever she feels like it on those days (after we asked her for a schedule) and stays for hours at a time. Even if you are entertaining guests in the backyard, she will continue to water & be around. At one point we came home from work to find her in the yard, in the chicken enclosure, showing the chickens to one of her friends. She seemed to like them.

    A year went by, and we were enjoying our chickens immensely. So much, that I started hatching more, and then giving the chicks away to new homes, selling some and donating the rest to school groups. It was awesome & something I was really passionate about. Keep in mind--these are Silkies and Bantam Polish. Tiny little guys. The maximum I had at one time was 15. Our neighbors (who are all vacation renters and change all the time) have all commented on how much they love the birds, and come over all the time to see them. We bring them eggs, and it has been a wonderful way to bond with the community.

    2 weeks ago, she came to the house with a letter saying she had contacted the county because we were in violation of the law since we had more than 6 chickens. This is absolutely true. We did have more than 6 chickens, we had 12 because I was waiting for people to come pick them up. Unfortunately, I had a full incubator in the garage with a dozen eggs set to hatch in a week. We showed her the garage, and the incubator (which she flipped out about, but we told her they were already sold, they just needed to hatch) and told her we would get down to 6 chickens. She said she would be back the next morning with an inspector & the extra chickens needed to be gone. Despite our pleas, and even our neighbors pleas, there was no swaying her. I was distraught & heartbroken. We scrambled, and brought the extra chickens to our friends house.
    She never showed up with the inspector. Ever.

    So, were down to 6 chickens. She still comes 3 times a week & so she knows were down to 6. I have even been in the backyard when she comes over & she tries to make small talk about them. Wants to feed them watermelon with me. Ick.

    My chicks hatched last week. All 12 of them. I wanted to wait until they were at least a week old before having people over to pick them up. 8 of them were already pre-sold. Since it is a holiday weekend, I arranged to have people come over on Friday and Sunday. Yesterday, I had an awesome couple come over to pick out their chicks. I put them in a plastic bin, and brought them outside. I had been keeping the chicks in the garage under a heat lamp & that's always were I keep my chicken supplies, etc. The landlord shows up while I am talking to my guests, and stays in the backyard watering for the entire time they are there. Very awkward & uncomfortable for everyone. They picked out their chicks (4 of them) and I told them to go ahead inside & I would bring the other bin into the garage & meet them inside. The landlord was still watering & I didn't want to just leave the chicks outside unattended, they were already freaking out.

    About 5 minutes after my guests leave, the landlord rings the doorbell and starts in:
    You cannot keep animals in the garage. It smells like a barn in there. It is against county regulations & you lied to me when you said you were only going to have 6 chickens. It went on and on. She said she's calling the county and every single one of the chickens has to be gone. All of them.
    She asked if she could come into the garage & inspect. I told her no way.

    So, here is my question:

    Can she legally force us to remove all of our chickens?
    At what age is a chick actually considered a full fledged chicken, after 6 weeks? No way.
    Can I not keep chicks in my garage? They weigh ounces, not taking up space or noise.

    I've checked all the county ordinances, and I think I am in the clear-- but it doesn't say specifically about keeping animals in the garage.

    I want this woman off my back. We are moving in 2 months anyways, but I want to be prepared for the future. This has been a nightmare & I like to have a peaceful happy home.

    Thank you again for reading my thread & any advice you could give me would be greatly appreciated.

    Below is a photo of our coop aka "Silkie Palapa" so you can see what it looks like. It's not like its an eyesore.

  2. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Songster

    May 1, 2011
    I'm going to play good cop/bad cop....

    First, a chick is a chicken as soon as it hatches. So, by having chicks, you violated the 6 chicken law. You would have to find out if the county minds if you hatch and sell chicks by a certain time.

    Your landlady has every right to tell you that she doesn't want chicks in the garage. It is her property.

    However, she is outside of her rights by being in your lawn all the time. I would make sure of that and tell her so. I would also fight her every step of the way on the older chickens. You have proof that she okay'd the chickens. Since you are moving in 2 months, if she were to take you to court, I would point that out and ask for that amount of time. I don't think she can force you to get rid of them since you obeyed her rules on keeping them enclosed.

    The ones in the garage? Find homes for what's left and don't hatch anymore until you are at your new place. If you are renting there also, I would make sure of the rules before you begin again. If it were your own home, you could hatch and sell out of your garage, no problem...but she owns the house and property. That's where the problem arises.

    Make sure you find out what landlord/tenant laws are in your area...but around here, the land owner can not just come and go as they please.
  3. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Songster

    May 1, 2011
    Oh, by the way, I just love your coop...it is so cute and cozy :)
  4. HEChicken

    HEChicken Crowing

    Aug 12, 2009
    BuCo, KS
    My Coop
    I totally agree. She may own the property but when she rented it to you, she gave up her right to come and go from it as she pleases. As long as your rent is paid on time, it is to all intents and purposes, YOUR property and you have a right to say who is on it when. If she wants to visit, she should make arrangements ahead of time, or at worst, park in the driveway or street and ring the doorbell, as any other guest would, who drops in unexpectedly. She has no right to go into your backyard unless invited by you, and is guilty of trespassing on your property every time she does. It might be time to make a few calls and complaints of your own....
  5. California_chickie

    California_chickie Chirping

    Jan 1, 2012
    Napa valley, Ca
    Thank you both so much for your advice. I really appreciate it.
    Hopefully she is just bluffing about coming by with the inspector like before. So far, she hasn't shown up (it's a saturday & I reminded her that, hello, it's a holiday weekend)
    I can't wait to move- and yes, I will be owning this property. Woo-hoo!
    Thanks again for your help & honesty!
  6. ChezPoulez

    ChezPoulez In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    Mill Valley, California
    J~ I believe we may know each other ... ~S

    I'm a stickler for facts and details so I just looked at Napa City Municipal Code and can find NO limit on the number of chickens anywhere in the code.
    It says you can't have roosters, or ducks, etc.
    It says you can't allow your poultry to wander onto other properties.
    But there is nothing limiting the number of birds that I can find. Has your landlord given you a copy of the Municipal Code with the specific language restricting size of your flock? Do you know for sure what the code number is? She may be bellowing about this and that without any basis in fact for her rants.

    FYI: The comment made above about your chicks being counted the same as adults isn't necessarily accurate when it comes to the law.
    It all depends on what the code says. Generally the Municipal Code will define how it counts the animals, and USUALLY it only counts mature adult animals as part of that count as you can see below from the code where I live:

    6.12.120 Rabbits--Poultry--Limitation on keeping. It is hereby declared to be a nuisance and it shall be unlawful to keep or permit to be kept, upon any premises in the City:
    A. Any rabbits or poultry within forty feet of any dwelling on adjacent property;
    B. More than 12 mature poultry or six mature rabbits;
    C. Any crowing roosters, quacking ducks, geese, guinea fowl or peafowl, whatsoever. (Ord. 987; February 16, 1982.)

    Now, about her entering your property without permission or notice... you could clean up in Court for each of those violations of the law. Ka-ching! Old lady or not, CA Tenant Rights Law is very strict and a landlord cannot enter without notice unless water is pouring or smoke is billowing kind of emergencies.

    If you were planning on staying you would have recourse through the Court for her unauthorized intrusions. She is violating the law every time she enters your property. A tenant who is maintaining the property, paying the rent, and keeping the peace is legally entitled to a 'quiet enjoyment' of the property without intrusion from the landlord. The Court will support you on that, but since you know you are leaving it's probably not worth fighting her. That being said, you might be able to get a local attorney to write her a letter on your behalf informing her of the law and advising her to NOT enter the property for any reason without giving you 48 hours notice and that the law DOES NOT allow her to come do yard maintenance at will.

    In the meantime, stand your ground and DO NOT allow her entry into your home. You are entitled to your privacy.

    Until you move, if you want to board your grown girls here at Chez Poulet that would be fine. Email me. ~S
  7. ChezPoulez

    ChezPoulez In the Brooder

    Jun 22, 2011
    Mill Valley, California
    Uh, not exactly. Here in CA Tenant Rights Laws are very strict. Her landlord approved her having chickens. She can't tell her how she can use the property once she rents it. The landlord could be fined $2000 for EACH TIME she has entered the property without notice.

    The Right to Possession
    When you rent the house, you "buy" the exclusive right to possession of it by paying rent. The landlord still has title, and he can use the property as security for a loan, trade it, and improve it; but, he can't come in whenever he wants. That is, by renting, the landlord has sold you his right to possession. The landlord or his agents coming onto your property without your consent is a trespass. The only exception to this is where the landlord or his agents follows the procedures of Civil Code 1954 [see below]. As a result, you have the upper hand, and the landlord is at your mercy.

    In real terms, your right to possession gives you the power to arrest and sue the landlord, his agents, and anyone else who enters for trespass. Even a forcible, physical citizen's arrest [using reasonable force necessary to subdue them] is legal, where someone enters your home without your consent or legal right. You say, "you're under arrest" and are contacting the police. The police will back you, the lawful tenant, even against the landlord. You can also sue the trespassers in small claims court for up to $5,000, EACH! Seriously, do the math: that not only the landlord, but remember, she brought HER FRIEND into tenant's property without permission too.

    You can also call the cops to have them physically remove any trespassers and then make a criminal complaint against the landlord and whoever else comes in without your consent or proper legal process. When there is a doubt, the police will back you, the lawful tenant, against anyone else, even if they don't make an arrest. If the police arrive and the people are there, you can tell the officer that you want to make a citizen's arrest of those people, and he is required to follow through. If he doesn't, you call his watch commander right then and report him, and then call the police Internal Affairs to make a formal complaint. The police are required to enforce the law, not play politics.

    The Right to Civil Code 1954 Compliance
    Your right to possession is subject to a very narrow exception, identified in Civil Code 1954. At first, these seem like petty quibbles, but their strategic value will become apparent. Here's the actual statute, highlighted:
    §1954. Entry by Landlord
    (a) A landlord may enter the dwelling unit only in the following cases:
    (1) In case of emergency.
    (2) To make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5.
    (3) When the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises.
    (4) Pursuant to court order.
    (b) Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, entry may not be made during other than normal business hours unless the tenant consents to an entry during other than normal business hours at the time of entry.
    (c) The landlord may not abuse the right of access or use it to harass the tenant.
    (d)(1) Except as provided in subdivision (e), or as provided in paragraph (2) or (3), the landlord shall give the tenant reasonable notice in writing of his or her intent to enter and enter only during normal business hours. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. The notice may be personally delivered to the tenant, left with someoneof a suitable age and discretion at the premises, or, left on, near, or under the usual entry door of the premises in a manner in which a reasonable person would discover the notice.Twenty-four hours shall be presumed to be reasonable notice in absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice may be mailed to the tenant. Mailing of the notice at least six days priorto an intended entry is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary.
    (2) If the purpose of the entry is to exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, the notice may be given orally, in person or by telephone, if the landlord or his or her agent has notified the tenant in writing within 120 days of the oral notice that the property is for sale and that the landlord or agent may contact the tenant orally for the purpose described above. Twenty-four hours is presumed reasonable notice in the absence of evidence to the contrary. The notice shall include the date, approximate time, and purpose of the entry. At the time of entry, the landlord or agent shall leave written evidence of the entry inside the unit.
    (3) The tenant and the landlord may agree orally to an entry to make agreed repairs or supply agreed services. The agreement shall include the date and approximate time of the entry, which shall be within one week of the agreement. In this case, the landlord is not required to provide the tenant a written notice.
    (e) No notice of entry is required under this section:
    (1) To respond to an emergency.
    (2) If the tenant is present and consents to the entry at the time of entry.
    (3) After the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the unit.

    California Civil Code Section 1940.2

    Legal Research Home > California Laws > Civil Code > California Civil Code Section 1940.2

    (a) It is unlawful for a landlord to do any of the
    following for the purpose of influencing a tenant to vacate a
    (1) Engage in conduct that violates subdivision (a) of Section 484
    of the Penal Code.
    (2) Engage in conduct that violates Section 518 of the Penal Code.
    (3) Use, or threaten to use, force, willful threats, or menacing
    conduct constituting a course of conduct that interferes with the
    tenant's quiet enjoyment of the premises in violation of Section 1927
    that would create an apprehension of harm in a reasonable person.
    Nothing in this paragraph requires a tenant to be actually or
    constructively evicted in order to obtain relief.
    (4) Commit a significant and intentional violation of Section
    (b) A tenant who prevails in a civil action, including an action
    in small claims court, to enforce his or her rights under this
    section is entitled to a civil penalty in an amount not to exceed two
    thousand dollars ($2,000) for each violation.

    (c) An oral or written warning notice, given in good faith,
    regarding conduct by a tenant, occupant, or guest that violates, may
    violate, or violated the applicable rental agreement, rules,
    regulations, lease, or laws, is not a violation of this section. An
    oral or written explanation of the rental agreement, rules,
    regulations, lease, or laws given in the normal course of business is
    not a violation of this section.
    (d) Nothing in this section shall enlarge or diminish a landlord's
    right to terminate a tenancy pursuant to existing state or local
    law; nor shall this section enlarge or diminish any ability of local
    government to regulate or enforce a prohibition against a landlord's
  8. leadwolf1

    leadwolf1 Songster

    May 1, 2011
    I did not set out to misinform. I think, actually, that I instructed the OP to check local laws. Here, the landlord can tell you if you can have animals and how many. If, in the written agreement between tenant and land lady, the number and location were stipulated, that would give the land lady the right to not allow chickens in the garage.

    I was merely trying to help.
  9. Iridian

    Iridian In the Brooder

    May 25, 2012
    Northern California
    Hi there, I'm certainly no expert on this but something came to mind when I was reading your thread that you may want to look into. While Napa as a whole may not have restrictions on the number of chickens you keep legally, the zoning laws may be different. I would call the city and double check on that if I were you, just to have all your bases covered.

    Your landlord is totally overstepping her bounds by coming and going to your house at her leisure and she should be made aware of that. I know you said you were leaving in a couple months, but I do feel sorry for future tenants. If you just want to keep the peace till you move out, I would totally understand that, but on your way out, I would give the old gal a bit of a dressing down over that one!

    Being the landlord, she may very well have total rights in not allowing you to keep chickens in the garage, or possibly even chickens in general. Step lightly with this and do more research so you know your rights.

    Keep us informed and good luck :)

    ps. I live in Fairfield (green valley) not too far from ya. Sadly my zoning only allows me 3 hens.
  10. DrHoverbottom

    DrHoverbottom Chirping

    Feb 11, 2011
    I am in CA too and I had a landlord who thought that he could waltz on into the home whenever he wanted. Once I read up on tenants rights in CA I told him he had to give me notice before coming on the property. He was an older gent and had the property rented through a management company. He claimed that my rent was discounted so that he could come over whenever (the house was for sale and he wanted access to it to show to prospective buyers). I showed him the rental agreement an challenged him to show me where in the agreement it said my rent was discounted for the purpose of having it aval 24/7 without notice. He couldn't and that was the end of that (it was also very nearly the end of our relationship and I moved shortly thereafter). You landlord has the right to say how many critters you keep on her property but she does not have the right to come over unannounced to inspect. That just stinks

    Side note: I have that same coop! My girls love it.

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