Rent Increases Limited to 10% During Declared State of Emergencies

The statute applies immediately after the President of the United States, the Governor of
California, or city or county executive officer declares a state of emergency resulting from any
natural or manmade disaster, such as an earthquake, flood, fire, riot, or storm. In that instance,
rent may not be increased by more 10%. The statute generally applies for 30 days after a
declaration of emergency, although for reconstruction services and emergency cleanup services,
it applies for 180 days after a declaration of emergency.

State and local officials may extend the effective period of the statute beyond this timeframe.
The statute does not restrict its protection to a city or county where the emergency or disaster is
located. It is intended to prevent price gouging anywhere in the state where there is increased
consumer demand as a result of the declared emergency. For example, if a fire in San Diego
County causes residents to evacuate to neighboring Imperial County, hotels in Imperial County
may not raise rates by more than 10% to take advantage of the increase in demand for lodging.
Violations of the price gouging statute are subject to criminal prosecution that can result in one-
year imprisonment in county jail and/or a fine of up to $10,000. Violations are also subject to
civil enforcement actions including civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, injunctive relief,
and mandatory restitution.
Please note that if your property is located in a rent control jurisdiction, you would be limited by
the terms of that ordinance.

Lease Signed but Payment Not Made

A client of mine had a tenant sign a 1 year lease. The lease was to initiate on April 1, 2019. Keys
were to be given upon delivery of a Cashier’s Check. Due to a problem that the tenant was
having with a wire transfer, his funds were delayed until the tenth of the month. The tenant was
willing to tender the check but insisted that the lease commence on April 10, 2019, since
possession was not given on April 1, 2019. I advised my client that he was under no obligation to
consent to the tenant’s request. The failure of the tenant to pay timely, would allow the landlord
to declare this a breach of contract and the lease could be voided. The tenant, when confronted
with this information, withdrew his request and accepted the lease on its original terms.
Proper Service of a Rent Increase (Civil Code 827)
A rent increase for residential property must allow for 30 days advance notice if the increase is
10% or less. If greater than 10%, 60 days advance notice is required. A rent increase notice must
be in a written form. It cannot be a text or an email. Service of this notice may be personally delivered or mailed.  If mailed, you will need to extend the notice period by 5 days.  (Code of Civil Procedure 1013)
 
Early Termination of a Lease
Many times events can occur in a tenant’s situation which will cause the tenant to request a
termination of the lease. The law is clear, with very few exceptions, that a lease cannot be
terminated unless consent is given by the landlord. If the tenant chooses to vacate, this person
would still be liable for the entire lease term. A landlord is required to do a security deposit
itemization within 21 days from when the tenant actually vacated the premises. The landlord
should calculate all rental payments owed through the end of the lease term to be included in this
itemization.
A landlord is under an obligation to mitigate this amount, by attempting to lease the unit. Once
the unit is leased, the original tenant’s liability for the rent would cease at that time.

Collecting on Judgments
Landlords are notorious for obtaining judgments against their tenants and never attempting to
enforce them. The general belief is that the tenant has no assets or identification and that
collection would be fruitless. Nothing could be further from the truth! My firm has collected
millions and millions of dollars for our clients. Judgments are valid for 10 years and can be
renewed for an additional 10 years.  While it is true that judgment obtained against recently
evicted tenants are difficult to collect, that is not case after time has passed. Many tenants, after
time, do obtain employment and establish bank accounts.  Part of the process of collection is to
run data and asset searches. Most collection firms do not charge upfront fees. Collection is done
on a contingency basis. I suggest that it is time to go through your files and find all of your old
judgments. You might be sitting on gold!

Strangers Left In Your Unit
In some cases, a tenant will vacate a unit leaving a stranger in possession. How should a landlord
handle this situation? It is generally not wise to not establish a new tenancy with this person. You
should always go through your normal screening process, once the unit has been vacated. If the
person refuses to vacate, an unlawful detainer should be brought. The law allows for a 3 Day
Notice to Quit, as this person is considered an unauthorized subtenant at the end of the lease
term.

Electronic Filing (E-Filing)

Many Courts have now instituted mandatory electronic filing for all court documents. In
Southern California, this has been established in San Diego, Los Angeles and Orange County.
Lawsuits, where there is an attorney of record, are mandated to be filed electronically. Los
Angeles County adopted this effective December 3, 2018. While it has been a rocky start, we are
now witnessing less processing time, which certainly is an advantage to landlords in eviction
actions. The costs, unfortunately, to prosecute an action has now risen.

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 DennisBlock 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”