Question One: I opened an escrow to sell my duplex in Los Angeles. My only tenant is my son and his girlfriend. I gave him a 60-day notice to vacate, but he tells me that he will not vacate. I am afraid I will lose the sale if he does not leave. Do I have to pay him relocation funds even though he is a family member? The girlfriend is a paralegal and I know she is coaching him. What are my options?
Answer One: If your son pays rent, he is a protected tenant under rent control, notwithstanding your relationship. The fact that you are selling the property is not a ground to evict, regardless of paying relocation. It is possible that the new owner could initiate the process, if the buyer is intending to move into that unit. Another possibility would be to negotiate a voluntary vacate agreement.
Question Two: My question is regarding Emotional Support Animals (ESA). I have a new tenant who decided they wanted to get a dog and notified me of their decision in writing. We do allow one small pet and discussed that there would be an additional pet deposit and a monthly pet fee. They agreed, and I had them sign the Pet Agreement. They submitted their $500 Pet Deposit and returned the signed pet agreement form. In the email they included a certificate from a company that certified that the pet is an emotional support animal. I am aware that you can get these certificates online for a minimal fee. I would like to ask them for documentation from a licensed doctor?
Answer Two: If your tenants have a need for an emotional support animal, they cannot be charged a deposit or forced to sign an agreement. You should inform them that if they present you a letter from a medical professional, stating their need for an emotional support animal, that you will waive your requirements and charges.
Question Three: I have a rent control building. I have all new residents sign a pet addendum which states that if they decide to bring in a pet, there will be an extra charge of $50 per month. One of my tenants has decided that he wants a dog but is refusing to pay the $50. He claims that this is a violation of rent control. Is this true?
Answer Three: Since the original terms of the tenancy provided for this additional payment, you can enforce this provision. This would not be considered a violation of rent control.
Question Four: I gave my tenant a 60 day notice to move. She is currently on a month to month agreement. Ten days later, this tenant served me with a 30-day notice to vacate. Is that a legal notice, since I had already served her with a notice to quit?
Answer Four: Under California law, if a tenant has resided in a residence for one year or longer, a month to month tenancy can only be terminated by the landlord with a 60 day notice. This is not a requirement that is placed on the tenant. A tenant need only serve a 30-day notice regardless of the length of the tenancy. In this case, your tenant had the right to terminate the tenancy by serving her own 30-day notice to vacate.
Question Five: I have two townhomes located in the City of Los Angeles. I pay a yearly fee to the City under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Last year, I raised the rent on each unit by 6%. I am now filling out the 2018 RSO form and it will show this rental increase. It is my understanding that townhomes are not subject to the 3% rental increase. Am I correct?
Answer Five: Condominiums and townhomes are not subject to rent limitations, pursuant to a state law called Costa Hawkins. You are free to raise the rent to market level at any time, even though your property is subject to the provisions of RSO. It should be pointed out that there will be an initiative on the State ballot in November, 2018. This will be an attempt to repeal Costa Hawkins. The repeal of Costa Hawkins will allow many municipalities to institute rent control. I will be speaking on this topic at the AOA Long Beach Trade Show on May 15, 2018. The passage of this initiative will have severe consequences to income property owners. Do not miss my important seminar.
Question Six: I have a four unit apartment complex in San Diego. It is an old building and the tenant living on top comes home late at night from work. The tenant living on the bottom unit always complains about noise when the other tenant comes home. The noise is usually normal stuff, like foot noise and maybe a door slamming. I would consider this normal activity. The apartment is old and you can hear conversations and footsteps. The upstairs unit has no carpet. What are my obligations in this situation? Does this conduct constitute a nuisance?
Answer Six: I would not consider this to be nuisance behavior. You should inform the downstairs tenant that this is normal conduct which must be tolerated when you live in a multi-unit building. You might consider installing carpet in the upstairs unit as a method of keeping the peace.
Question Seven: I have a tenant in a house in Vista, California. I was recently served by my tenant with a lawsuit, as she was injured on my property. I have turned the matter over to my insurance company. This tenant is on a month to month tenancy and I am considering serving her with a notice to quit. Is this a wise idea?
Answer Seven: Vista does not have rent control and a month to month tenancy can be terminated by serving a notice to quit. In this case it might be considered retaliatory, which is a defense to terminating a tenancy. I would wait six months before serving a notice to quit. The retaliation defense does not extend beyond 180 days.
Question Eight: I have a single family home where the lease will expire in just over two months. What notice shall I serve so that the tenant is informed that I will not be renewing the lease and want the premises vacated?
Answer Eight: No notice if required as the lease expires by its own terms. It is a good idea to send the tenant an informal letter indicating the termination date of the lease and that you will not be renewing the agreement and expect that the premises be timely vacated.
Question Nine: I have a tenant who owed me two months’ rent. I served him with a 3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit. The tenant promptly left within the 3 day period. He now claims that since he complied with the notice, that he does not owe any rent. Is that true?
Answer Nine: Hopefully, your tenant is not intending to become an attorney. By complying with the 3 Day Notice, your tenant avoided being the subject of an Unlawful Detainer action. It does not relieve him of his contractual duties to pay the rent. If you have a security deposit, you will be able to deduct all rent owed. You may also bring forth a small claims court action for any rent owed.
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: 714.634.823, 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. 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”.