Landlords Are Not Forced to Renew a Lease

Even in these COVID-19 times, landlords are not forced to renew a lease that is set to expire. Assuming your tenancy is not subject to a statute requiring good cause to evict, landlords are permitted to allow a lease to expire. In this situation, you should send your tenant a letter which states the date upon which the lease will expire and that it will not be renewed. Inform you tenant that the premises must be vacated by said date. If you tenant fails to vacate, you may institute an eviction. Be advised that you should not accept rent passed the expiration of the lease as this will create a month-to-month tenancy.  

Nuisance Behavior

If your tenant is creating a nuisance, this would always constitute grounds to bring forth an eviction. The issue is whether the conduct of the tenant actually rises to the level of a nuisance. Generally, a one-time incident, not involving threats of violence or damage to property, is not sufficient.  Repeated incidents would be required. You will need to interview witnesses to the offensive conduct and confirm that they would be willing to testify if the matter actually goes to trial. Be advised that a landlord has an affirmative duty to investigate if a tenant is alleging nuisance behavior by another resident. 

Landlords Prevented From Terminating Month to Month Tenancies

Under the Tenant Relief Act (AB-3088), landlords now need good cause to terminate a month-to-month tenancy. This is true even for property which is not subject to any rent control. A single family residence, for example, is not subject to any requirement of good cause to evict. Unfortunately, under AB-3088 good cause is now required. Many landlords wish to have their tenants removed, in order to put the house up for sale. While the house can be listed, it is not permissible to terminate the tenancy at this time. This portion of the statute will not end until February 1, 2021. An exception does exist if the house is under a contract of sale and the buyer intends to occupy the residence. If that is the case, a month-to-month tenancy can be terminated by service of a 30 Day Notice to Quit. 

Acceptance of Rent During an Eviction Action

In general, landlords may not accept rent during the pendency of an eviction action. If a tenant tenders a check to a landlord, the landlord should return it immediately. The problem exists however, with electronic payments. Many times, tenants will transfer payment directly into a landlord’s account by Zelle, Venmo or a direct deposit. If this occurs, the case is not compromised. The landlord will merely need to send a personal check to the tenant. A note should be included which indicates that the rent payment is being returned as an unauthorized deposit. 

No Requirement to Repair on Cosmetic Items 

Some tenants have the belief that a rental unit should be in brand new condition, regardless of the age of the unit. Request to items dealing with cosmetic issues do not constitute an obligation on the part of the landlord.  For example, a crack in a ceiling does not affect the habitability of a unit. Only items that are relating to habitability need to be addressed by the landlord. These would involve items such as plumbing, heating and electrical. Windows and locks should be operational. If appliances were supplied as part of the tenancy, those items should be in working order.  

Rent Increases Permissible During the Pandemic

Under Statewide Rent Control (AB-1482), rent increases are allowed on a yearly basis. This is still true even during this pandemic period. Allowable rent increases are calculated at the rate of 5% plus the CPI (Consumer Price Index) as calculated for the local jurisdiction in April of each year.  In San Diego, the rate is 2.7%, so the allowable increase is 7.7%.

 

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”.