Question One: Can a landlord serve 60 days to vacate in the middle of a one-year lease? My tenants have blocked the common driveway on countless occasions. I have given them several verbal warnings, which they just ignored.Answer One: You should review your lease agreement. If there is a specific provision regarding parking, you should serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If they continue to block the driveway an eviction action could be sought. If your lease is silent on parking, you would have two other options. You could evict based on a nuisance theory if other tenants are willing to go to court and testify. Lastly, you could have the vehicle towed.
Question Two: I have to send a security deposit itemization to my previous tenant. She rented a room in my private home and vacated owing two months’ rent and other fees. She did not provide a forwarding address and I have no idea how to find her. I do have her e-mail address. Will that fulfill my legal requirement to inform her in writing?
Answer Two: Sending an email would not be in compliance with the Civil Code. I would send one by email and I would send another copy by first class mail to the tenant’s last known address. This of course, would be your house. Even if it cannot be delivered, you have fulfilled your legal requirements.
Question Three: Mr. Block – thank you for getting rid of my tenants from hell. Unfortunately, I am now confronted with thousands of dollars in damage that these pigs caused to my unit. Can that be included in the judgment that you obtained for me?
Answer Three: In an unlawful detainer action, a monetary award is limited to rent, attorney fees and legal costs. Physical damage to the premises cannot be addressed in an eviction action. You certainly can file a separate lawsuit for the damage that they caused. If you file in Small Claims Court, you can sue up to $10,000. Other remedies would be to file a claim with your insurance company and lastly, you can file a police report if they in fact vandalized your property.
Question Four: I own a seven unit apartment building. One unit is occupied by me and the remaining six are registered with the City of L.A. for rental. A L.A. Housing inspector came by for routine inspection and wanted to enter my unit. Do I need to allow him to enter? Other inspectors never entered my unit? I have nothing to hide, but I just want to know my rights. Please advise. Thank you.
Answer Four: Under the Systematic Code Enforcement Program, the Housing Community Investment Department has the right to inspect units at least once every three years. The Los Angeles Housing Code specifically exempts, however, owner occupied units. You have the right to refuse inspection on your personal residence.
Question Five: I have a tenant who is leasing a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. His rent is extremely low. While he pays his rent on time, he is usually not occupying the property as he has another residence in Tennessee. It is totally unfair that he should tie up my unit, when he truly is not using it as his primary residence. He is treating my unit as an inexpensive vacation home. Can anything be done?
Answer Five: Unfortunately, the evils of rent control are not based on need. Even though he is not occupying the unit on a regular basis, your tenant is still a protected tenant under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. You might consider offering him a buyout.
Question Six: I have two tenants who are using the common area to store junk that they have apparently collected from the streets and alleys. Both tenants have been warned verbally on multiple occasions. If the city were to see this hoard, they would order me to remove it. Considering the number of times that I have asked them to clean up, I have no problem evicting these tenants. So what is the first written notice that I should give them?
Answer Six: Most residential rental agreements provide that the tenants cannot store personal property in the common areas. In this situation, you should serve a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit, which would give the tenants three days to remove the personal property. If the items still remain after the three days, you should take a photo and commence an unlawful detainer action.
Question Seven: Despite repeated requests to stop, a tenant under rent control repeatedly writes checks a few dollars more than the actual rental amount. Can I return the overage by writing my personal check and then charge a service fee to discourage this?
Answer Seven: That would not be a legal charge. I suggest that you return the check with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, which would demand the correct amount. If you have ever accepted additional rent, you would need to return that amount to the tenant. If an eviction case is brought in the future, it could be a defense in that action.
Question Eight: I have a rent control tenant that I know is leasing out her unit by using Airbnb. Can I serve a Notice to Perform or Quit as the lease prohibits subletting?
Answer Eight: There is an inherent problem with that type of notice. It would be difficult to prove that the Airbnb guest is actually leasing the unit, as oppose to a guest which would be allowed. Secondly, Airbnb guests are generally short term and the person might vacate by the time that the notice expires. The answer to the problem, however, is quite simple. Once you suspect that your tenant is subleasing the unit, serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. After the third day, have a friend go to the Airbnb website and book a room! Your friend will be an excellent witness. My firm recently won a case on this basis. The tenant was very surprised when my client’s friend testified.
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 or Orange: 714.634.8232 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. Get the NEW App for iPhone or Android phones. Search for “EVICT123“. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.