Question One: I was wondering if there is a legal procedure for holding a unit. This is my situation: I have a prospective tenant who would like to give me a deposit to move in two months from now. I have never done this before, but feel this tenant would be a good fit for my building. I don’t know if I should make her give me a deposit at this time. Also, what recourse would I have if she changes her mind? I want her as a tenant, but I do not want to lose out on two months of rent if she decides not to take the unit. Please let me know.
Answer One: Have the applicant sign a lease agreement showing the specific starting date. Collect the first month’s rent and the security deposit at that time. This way, the tenant will be liable for the entire lease term even if she changes her mind. You would be able to keep all the money that you have received.
Question Two: I have two tenants in Los Angeles on a rent controlled lease. One tenant is moving out. They have found another substitute but this person has horrible credit. Am I allowed to increase the rent beyond 3%, because the replacement is not an equivalent substitute?
Answer Two: That would not be a legal option. You can reject the applicant for having poor credit, but you are not allowed to increase the rent beyond the allowable increase for the City of Los Angeles.
Question Three: I served a tenant with a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. During the three day period the tenant offered me half of the rent which I accepted. Am I able to initiate the eviction action at this point? Also, was I obligated to accept the partial payment within the three day period?
Answer Three: If you serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit, the tenant has the obligation of paying the full amount of rent within the three day period. The landlord has no obligation to accept a partial payment. If you do decide to take a partial payment, you will need to serve a new 3 day notice to pay the rent, requesting the balance of the rent that is now due.
Question Four: I recently commenced an eviction action against my tenant and he contested the action. When I read the answer he filed with the court, I was shocked. He had a laundry list of items that he claimed were wrong with the premises. I was never informed of these items and I really doubt that he is being truthful. How should I handle this?
Answer Four: In almost any eviction action for non-payment of rent, the landlords are always confronted with the defense of habitability. The tenant will defend the action by stating that many problems exist with the unit, which the landlord has refused to address. In January, 1974 there was a case entitled Green vs Superior Court. In that case, tenants were given the right to withhold rent, if there was a needed repair. The tenant was required to notify the landlord and allow a reasonable amount of time for the item to be fixed. While the law had good intentions, it has been bastardized by tenants in almost every single case. In your situation, I would serve a 24- hour notice to access the dwelling and conduct an inspection of the premises. You are permitted to take pictures, which can be used at the trial. If something is in need of repair, I would suggest fixing it immediately.
Question Five: I am planning on serving a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit on my tenant. I am sure that this tenant will not pay and that I will be forced to file an unlawful detainer action, which will be contested. Do you have any suggestions to make my case go smoothly?
Answer Five: As I have previously discussed, tenants, with advice from their attorney, always claim that items are wrong with the unit. The system is really broken by these phony claims. Recently, I have come up with an idea to counter this defense. I am putting into my 3-day notice, an additional paragraph, which I believe will prevent these claims. This is the paragraph I would include:
“At this time we have not been informed that your unit is in need of any repairs. We take our responsibility as a landlord very seriously. If you believe that items need to be corrected, please address those issues in writing and we will immediately inspect and make necessary repairs. Of course, if we do not receive any written repair requests, we will assume that there are no items that need to be corrected at this time.”
Question Six: I have one Section 8 tenant in my eight-unit apartment building. My building is under rent control. I find it a tremendous burden to deal with Section 8 and I would love to terminate my contract with them. I was told that since my building is under rent control, I have no way to accomplish this. Is this correct? Am I forced to continue with this Section 8 contract in perpetuity?
Answer Six: The law has been changed recently where landlords with Section 8 tenants in Los Angeles are able to terminate the Section 8 contract. The tenant is allowed to remain, but would have to pay the full amount of the rent. The tenant, of course, would be able to obtain a new voucher and seek residence at another location.
Question Seven: I have a tenant that installed an air conditioner in his unit. Since I pay for the electricity, is there any way to prevent him from using this device or making him pay the additional electrical charges? My building is located in Long Beach.
Answer Seven: Installation of an air conditioner would be an alteration to the premises. Most rental agreements would require your written consent in order to install an air conditioner. You may ask the tenant to remove the air conditioner or to pay you more rent.
Question Eight: I am very nervous that if the “Affordable Housing Act” (also known as Proposition 10) passes, that my income will be dramatically impacted. What steps should I take at this point?
Answer Eight: I agree with you that the deceptive “Affordable Housing Act” will dramatically affect income property owners, including owners of single family homes. The use of the term, “Affordable Housing” is merely an expansion of tenant welfare and leads our society down the socialist path. I will be speaking at 9:00 AM on October 25, 2018 at the Los Angeles Convention Center for the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show. Please attend, as I will be going over specific items you can do to protect yourself.
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. 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”.