My question involves landlord-tenant law in the State of: California
I have been renting my current home for just a bit shy of 6 years. The owner, about 8 months ago, started using a property management company for their rental houses. Month 1 with them my rent went up 15% with proper notice (I did start paying that on time), month 5 it went up an additional 8% (without proper notice - simply a notice, after they cashed my regular rent check, that I was short $75 along with a 3 day notice). I did call and was told they had mailed me a 30 day notice of increased rent, I let them know CA law states anything over 10% needs 60 days notice, they then said I now owe a $115 late fee too (nowhere in my lease), it all went downhill from there and now they are evicting me for the $115 "late fee" and the $75 unpaid rent. I tried to discuss this with them (as the law was on my side) and that went nowhere - they have filed a UD, I have filed my response and now I await the court date in the mail.
Sorry for the long explanation above - but here is my question now: Even though the UD has been filed and I have answered and plan to fight it (yet still want to move as if they don't want me there, I'd prefer to move... I just need time to pack, move, etc around work and kids and sports as well as I am in the right here - I would like time to find a home, not 3 days to pack and run). So, never having been evicted before, I mailed in my regular rent check for the 1st of April (trying to keep doing the right thing). They cashed it. Then 3 days later they sent me a letter stating they cashed it but were not applying it to any rent, but were keeping it in case of any "damages" incurred with the UD. As I am not planning to continue filling their pockets with "damage" money - but had intended to stay responsible and pay my regular RENT until anything is decided - what do I do?? I have read so many different things: "don't pay rent until UD decided", "only court can keep money in trust, not landlord", yes, they can keep your money this way", "no, they can't keep your money like this". Help???? If anyone could direct me to the law on this or what to do?? Pay no more rent? Request a dismissal when we go to court as they cashed my rent check during the UD process? Any help is appreciated. Thank you!!