If you serve a Notice to Quit on your tenant, you cannot accept rent past the expiration of that notice. Acceptance of the rent would invalidate your termination notice. If the tenant tenders you the full rental amount, you cannot accept it and then tender back that portion which extends beyond the expiration of the notice. If the tenant makes an automatic deposit into your account, you should wait for the payment to clear. Once the check has cleared, you should send your personal check to the tenant for that same amount. You should include a note to your tenant that states that the payment constituted an unauthorized deposit into your account.
No Limitation on Setting Rental Rate
Regardless of whether your property is in a rent control jurisdiction, a landlord is free to set the rental rate for a unit when the premises have been voluntarily vacated by tenant. No municipality can institute an ordinance which would limit the landlord’s right to raise the rent to market value. This is due to the fact that a state law, Costa Hawkins, mandates that there be vacancy decontrol. If you would like to know if you are getting market rent for your units, checks out this website, rentometer.com. It is free for the first five searches and I find it to be an invaluable tool. Remember, while your area might not have rent control, this may only be temporary. Oregon has just instituted statewide rent control. Do not get caught with your rental units being under market.
Proper Heating Units
A client of mine had an old wall furnace that broke. The repairman stated that the unit was so old that parts did not exist and that the entire furnace would have to be replaced. This would be very costly and my client wanted to know if he could merely supply space heaters. Since the unit was relatively small, he believed that the space heaters would adequately heat the apartment. I explained that this would be in violation of building codes. Every residential unit must have a fixed heating system. While you can use a space heater as a temporary arrangement, the law would require a fixed heating unit.
How Rent Payments Can Be Tendered
When rent is delinquent, a landlord is required to serve a 3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit. Within that notice you must give an address where rent can be tendered. It is most common to have the rent paid directly to the owner, resident manager or a rent collection box. The landlord does have other options. It is permissible to state that the money be paid to a Post Office Box. In that situation, if the tenant mails the rent within the 3 day period, that would be considered in compliance with the notice, regardless of when the funds actually arrived. It is also permissible to have the tenant make a direct deposit into your bank account. In that situation, your 3 Day Notice must state your account number, the bank name, the hours which the bank is opened and the address of the bank. The bank must be located within 5 miles of the subject premises.
Responsibility for Pest Control
Under the Civil Code a landlord is charged with keeping the premises free from pests and rodents. Normally the landlord would have to bear the cost of the pest control company. There can be an exception. A client had a tenant who complained about rats. The landlord immediately sent out a pest control company who set traps and inspected for points of entry. It was determined that the rodents were entering the premises by way of a “doggie door” that the tenant installed without approval. In this situation, the tenant would be responsible for the cost, as it was the tenant’s own action which created the problem. The landlord should present the tenant with the invoice. If the tenant fails to pay, a Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit should be served. This notice would demand the reimbursement of the pest control invoice. In addition, the notice should demand that the “doggie door” be removed and that the door restored to its original condition.
Trial Date Delays
Unlawful Detainer actions are afforded priority, as loss of rent continues to build for every day the tenant remains in possession of your unit. This concept is not shared by all judges, however. Recently my firm was involved in a case for non-payment of rent. A trial date was set up and all parties arrived on the day of trial. The tenant, who was not represented by an attorney, immediately asked the judge for a continuance to find an attorney. This judge was relatively new and immediately granted the tenant’s request for an additional 2 week period. Of course my firm vigorously objected, explaining the loss of rent my client will suffer and that the tenant had sufficient time to procure an attorney. Our objections fell on deaf ears. It is wise to hire a firm that is not only versed in the law but knows the judges. My firm has a list of judges that we feel are totally biased. When our cases go to those particular courtrooms, we file a form called an “Affidavit of Prejudice- CCP 170.6”, which will force our cases to a different courtroom. Unfortunately in this case, the judge was new.
Seller Will Not Move
I had a client who recently bought a house in Long Beach. It was occupied by the seller. Escrow closed and the deed was recorded. The seller informed my client that he would need a couple of more days to vacate, which he reluctantly agreed to do. More days have passed and the seller is refusing to move. My client thought that the police would be able to force this person off the premises but unfortunately an eviction must be brought. It is required that a 3 Day Notice to Quit be served. If the seller does not vacate within the 3 day period, an eviction needs to be initiated. In addition to seeking possession, the lawsuit will also seek the rental value of the premises, for the time that this person was illegally in possession.
Storage of Personal Property in Common Areas
Many times tenants will liter the common areas with the personal property. This can include bicycles, barbecues, and other assorted items. These items tend to bring down the appearance of the premises, making it difficult to rent out vacant units. If this occurs, you should send a warning letter to the tenant. If the letter is ignored, you should review your lease agreement. Most rental agreements have a provision prohibiting the storage of personal property in the common areas. In that instance, you should serve on your tenant a Notice to Perform or Quit. This will give your tenant 3 days to remove the personal items or face the consequences of an eviction.
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”.