If you suspect that your tenant has abandoned your unit, you have the right to enter to confirm it. You should serve a 24-hour notice to enter the dwelling by posting it on the front door. You should only enter during normal business hours and days, Monday through Friday, 9 AM to 5 PM. You may indicate on the notice that the reason for entering their unit is to see if the premises have been abandoned. If it appears that the premises have been vacated, you will need to go through an abandonment procedure to obtain legal possession of the premises.
This is a form that is mailed to the tenant declaring your belief that the premises have been abandoned. Rent would have to be owed for at least 14 days. The tenant will have 18 days to send a notice in writing that, in fact, the premises are still being occupied. If the tenant does not respond in writing, you may take possession and change the locks after the 18-day period. Once you have possession you should send a security deposit itemization within 21 days to your tenant’s last known address. [Use AOA’s Form # 145 – Notice of Belief of Abandonment.]
Disclosure of a Tenant’s Death
Here is another piece of legislation which attempts to put undue regulations on a landlord with no justification. under California law, if a person dies in your unit, you must inform applicants for a three-year period following the death that the previous tenant passed away in the unit. There is one exception; if the person’s death was a result of AIDS, you do not have an obligation to inform an applicant.
Emotional Support Animals and Additional Security
Under the California and Americans with Disabilities Act, a landlord must provide for a reasonable accommodation if a tenant requests that a pet be allowed as an emotional support animal. The tenant must provide a letter from a medical professional that confirms a disability exists and that the tenant requires an emotional support animal. In that instance, a landlord cannot request additional pet/security deposit nor mandate that an insurance policy be obtained. That would be considered as a violation of the Disabilities Act.
Typical Grounds for Eviction
The most common basis for an eviction generally involves non-payment of rent. Other grounds include violation of lease terms, damage to property, illegal activities and an expired lease. Violation of lease terms usually involves unauthorized persons, animals and alterations to the premises. Examples of alterations would be installation of a satellite dish and the changing of locks. Another case we do frequently is where a tenant has an inoperable vehicle parked on the premises, which is a violation of most municipal codes.
30-Day Notice to Vacate Versus 60-Day Notice to Vacate
Under California law, a tenant is only required to serve a 30-day notice to terminate a month-to- month tenancy. That same rule does not apply to landlords whose tenants have occupied the premises more than one year. In that instance, a landlord would be required to serve a 60-day notice to vacate. It would be permissible to add a provision in your rental agreement that both parties are required to serve a 60-day notice to terminate the tenancy.
Misrepresentations in an Application
Many times a tenant will misrepresent information in their application. They may not have been truthful regarding a previous eviction or the fact that they had previously filed bankruptcy. Sometimes these issues are discovered after the tenancy has commenced. It is wise to have a provision in your lease agreement that any misrepresentations on the application constitute a non-curable breach of the lease agreement. If that is the case, you would be able to serve a 3-day notice to quit and proceed with an eviction.
Tenants Refuse to Sign Estoppel Agreement
Many times when selling a property the buyer will request that the tenants sign an estoppel indicating the rental amount, the names of the occupants, and other pertinent information. Some tenants might simply refuse to do so which may jeopardize the sale. There really is no way to force a tenant sign an estoppel. If the tenant is on a month-to-month tenancy, you could threaten to issue a Notice to Quit. If the tenant is on a lease, there would be no way to force a termination. Some leases do contain a clause requiring the tenant to fill out and sign an estoppel if one is presented. If that is the case, the tenancy could be terminated if the tenant continues to refuse to cooperate.
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”.