Defendant was plaintiff’s month-to-month tenant. She did not pay rent for a two year period, at the end of which plaintiff served her with a 3-day notice, claiming non-payment of the last month’s rental installment as well as a 30-day notice terminating the tenancy. When defendant failed to pay or move, plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer action against defendant, which plaintiff won, obtaining a judgment for possession and one month’s rent. Then plaintiff filed a separate ordinary civil action for the rest of the rent owed over the two-year period of non-payment. This decision holds that the earlier unlawful detainer judgment did not operate as res judicata and did not bar the later civil action because (1) the plaintiff could not have recovered damages for the entire period of nonpayment of rent in the unlawful detainer action, and (2) Civ. Code 1952(b) provides that a lessor who brings an unlawful detainer action is not precluded from bringing a separate action to recover rent so long as the lessor does not seek in the civil action rent for the same period(s) for which rent damages were sought in the unlawful detainer action.
California Court of Appeal, First District, Division Three (McGuinness, J.); February 13, 2018; 2018 WL 834082.