Question One: I have a tenant who has presented me with a doctor’s note. The note states that based on his psychological needs, he requires an emotional support animal. This is a no pet building, but I realize I have no option and must allow him to bring in the dog. My question is, can I increase the security deposit? I previously had taken only a one month security and I would like to request an additional month.
Answer One: Unfortunately, if the tenant has presented you with a valid doctor’s note, you cannot request an additional security deposit. To do so would be considered a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Question Two: I am in the process of preparing a security deposit itemization. I have deducted for certain damaged items. I know that I have to include the receipts for the repairs that were completed, but must the receipt require the telephone number of the vendor? Lastly, some of the work cannot be completed within the 21 day period. Based on this, I will not have an invoice. How should I handle this?
Answer Two: If you are deducting $125 or more, you do need to supply invoices or estimates with the itemization. The invoices do not need to include a telephone number. If you cannot obtain receipts within the 21 days, you still need to send the itemization. You should indicate that you have made estimates to certain items and that you will supply the receipts once they are available.
Question Three: My property is located in the City of Los Angeles and is under rent control. My tenant wants to bring in an additional person and I have no objection. Under the lease, I am allowed to charge $150 for each additional person. Am I legally allowed to increase the rent, even though my property is under rent control?
Answer Three: You can charge extra rent for this additional person, but there are limitations under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. The maximum increase allowed is 10%. If the amount in your lease exceeds 10%, you would be limited to that amount. Conversely, if the amount in your lease is less than 10%, you would be limited to the amount stated in your rental agreement.
Question Four: I have two tenants that leased a unit on a one-year agreement. They are now on a month to month tenancy. One tenant has served me with a 30 day notice to vacate and expects to get his portion of the security deposit. Am I obligated to account for the security deposit?
Answer Four: The tenancy that was created can be viewed as a partnership of two tenants. The security deposit does not need to be accounted for, unless the partnership terminates the tenancy. Explain to the departing tenant that no security deposit refund is in order until the unit is entirely vacated. In addition, you should inform this tenant that he is still responsible for rent unless both tenants vacate.
Question Five: We are planning on installing surveillance cameras in the common areas of the property. Do I have to inform the tenants that they will be recorded in those areas?
Answer Five: No notice need be given to your tenants that you are installing security cameras in the common areas. There is one exception. If the cameras also record sound, then your tenants would have to be informed.
Question Six: I have a tenant who subleased a room in one of my properties. He is leaving, but his tenant does not want to move out. Do I have to start an eviction process, even though he was paying rent to my tenant and not to me directly?
Answer Six: Even though the remaining occupant is an unauthorized subtenant, a landlord cannot use self-help to evict this occupant. Unfortunately, you will need to go through an eviction action. Technically, you will be including the departed tenant in the eviction action.
Question Seven: My property is located in the City of San Diego. I recently served my tenant with a 60 day notice to vacate. On the following month, the tenant did not pay the rent so I sent a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit by certified mail. The tenant signed the receipt for the certified mail letter. What is my next step?
Answer Seven: A 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit cannot be served by certified mail. If you cannot hand the notice to the tenant, you must post one on the front door to the unit and mail one by first class mail. Normally, you would be directed to serve a new notice in accordance with these instructions. In your case, you served the notice by certified mail, return receipt requested. Since the tenant signed for the notice, that would be considered personal service on the day the tenant signed the receipt. Your next step would be to file an Unlawful Detainer action with the court.
Question Eight: I attended your seminar at the Long Beach Convention Center and I appreciate the warnings you gave regarding the spread of rent control. My property is located in the City of Long Beach and I have read the proposed ordinance. I really have lost sleep over this issue, as all of my income is based on my rents. Unfortunately, I was not diligent in raising rents and many of my units are below market value. I am afraid that if I raise the rents now, the City will force me to roll my rents back. I am really panicking. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer Eight: I have so many clients that share your concerns. The current law states you can legally raise your rents to any level. I am sure that there will be many legal challenges if a municipality attempts to retroactively roll rents back. I would immediately raise rents on all units that are below market level. I would also issue a Notice to Quit on any tenant which you feel has not been a model tenant. Once the law passes, you will not be able to just terminate a tenancy on a simple Notice to Quit.
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”.