Renting Rooms

Some landlords use the business plan of leasing individual rooms in a house, as opposed to leasing the house to a single family.  In general, more revenue can be collected by this business practice.  Unfortunately, there are a multitude of problems that can occur in this situation. In some jurisdictions, this practice is considered illegal and might require the landlord to pay relocation to these tenants. Other issues occur when strangers are required to share the kitchen, bathrooms and living room. This can trigger arguments between the residents which the landlord is forced to mediate. My experience is that these types of arrangement are very difficult to manage and landlords should not enter into these types of tenancies.

15 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

Under the “Tenant Relief Act” (AB 3088), a tenant’s rental obligation is changed to a civil debt if the tenant signs a declaration that the inability to pay rent was due to the pandemic. The purpose for this provision was to prevent landlords from instituting eviction actions, once this outstanding debt is actually owed. In an eviction action based on a failure to pay, a landlord can only bring forth an action based on rent owed. The legislature in transmuting this obligation from rent to a civil debt, prevents the landlord from commencing an eviction action. The landlord would only be able to bring forth a civil action to collect this outstanding sum.

 

Disabled Tenants

If a tenant is asking that alterations be made to premises so as to accommodate a disability, a landlord cannot summarily deny that request. A landlord, under both Federal and State regulations, must grant the right to make an alteration, as long as it qualifies as a reasonable request. Installing rails in the bathroom or a ramp by a stairway would appear to be a reasonable accommodation. It should be noted that the cost of these alterations would be the responsibility of the tenant and not the landlord. The tenant would also be liable for the cost of the removal of these items, if the tenant vacates the premises.

 

Subletting

Even though many eviction actions cannot be brought due to the Tenant Relief Act, other actions can certainly be filed. If your rental agreement limits the number of occupants, an unlawful detainer action can be instituted if the tenant brings in additional persons. In that situation a “Notice to Perform or Quit” would be served on your tenant, demanding that these persons be removed within a 3-day period. If the tenant does not comply, an action can be filed immediately. No current law prevents the landlord from proceeding forward with an eviction.

 

Tenant Responsible for Damage

Recently, a client’s property was damaged by the police who were enforcing an arrest warrant. The tenant refused to come out and the police were forced to break open a wooden door. The tenant was arrested, but within a day was back in his unit. In this situation, even though the tenant did not personally create the damage, the tenant would be responsible for the repair of the wooden door.

 

Serving a 15 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

Under the Tenant Relief Act, a landlord is required to serve a 15-day notice to pay the rent. The tenant will have 15 days to either pay the rent in full or complete a declaration that the inability to pay is due to the pandemic. If the rent owed is for the period of September 1, 2020 through January 31, 2021, the tenant will be responsible for paying 25% of the total rent owed. Unfortunately, this payment is NOT due within the 15-day period. It would first become as of January 31, 2021. If payment is not received by this date, an eviction action can be instituted on the basis of the 15-day notice that was previously served.

 

Relief for Landlords

If you were curious as to what legislation has been brought forth to protect landlords during these catastrophic times, the answer is very simple. Absolutely no legislation exists. Our legislators and the Governor, have decided that the financial burdens that tenants are facing, should be shifted to landlords. 

 

   

Dennis Block, of Dennis P. Block & Associates can be reached for information on landlord/tenant law or evictions at any of the following offices:  Los Angeles: 323.938.2868, Encino: 818.986.3147, Inglewood: 310.673.2996, Long Beach:  310.434.5000, Ventura: 805.653.7264, Pasadena: 626.798.1014, Orange: 714.634.8232, San Diego: 619.481.5423 or by visiting www.evict123.com. Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, www.twitter.com/dennisblock or text him at (818) 570-1557.  “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.