Rent Payments

Examine Your Rent Checks and Payments

Many landlords are now, for the first time, having to deal with the intricacies of rent control. Your rental units, in most cases, are subject to either the San Diego Rent Control Ordinance or to Statewide Rent Control. In general, rent increases are governed by the statute and “good cause” is required to vacate a unit.

Based on these factors, you might find yourself in a situation where a person has achieved tenant status without your knowledge or approval. This occurs when you have accepted rent from a person. Once rent is accepted, that person gains legal status as a tenant, even though no lease has been signed.

Additional Tenant?

This situation can arise when your tenant brings in another person without your knowledge. This can easily happen where landlords have multiple units, and it is truly difficult to know which persons are residing on your property. 

At some point, you might receive a check or money order from this additional person. If this payment is negotiated, you will now have established a new tenancy. This person will have rights pursuant to the rent control ordinance. In addition, his tenancy will be established on a verbal agreement which is not subject to the normal obligations that exist under a written rental agreement. 

If the original tenant moves out, you will need to have “good cause” to pursue an eviction and your rent might remain at the same level as the departing tenant. On that basis, landlords are encouraged to examine your rental payments. If there is a name that you do not recognize, you will need to return the check immediately. Advise your tenant that the payment from this individual can only be accepted if it is accompanied by a statement that the payment does not establish a tenancy with this person and that the payment is being made in the name of your actual tenant.

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Obtaining a tenant without going through the normal application process and an extensive credit check can be a formula for disaster where thousands of dollars may be lost to remedy this situation.

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”.