Question One: I have an old friend from high school who is homeless. I have allowed him to live on my front porch. My house is located inAlhambra. Things have not gone well and he has become a nuisance with constant noise and bathroom issues. I have asked him to leave and when he refused I called the police. The police have told me that since he has been there over 30 days, he has possessory rights and they cannot just remove him. What are my options?
Answer One: As usual, “no good deed goes unpunished”. Under Civil Code Section 789, you have created a tenancy at will. If you allow a guest to stay on your property for 30 days, you will have to go through an eviction process to remove that individual. A 30 day notice to quit is required and thereafter you will need to file an unlawful detainer action.
Question Two: I recently bought four units around the downtownLos Angeles area. The conditions of the units are in fair condition, with some wear and tear. These tenants have already lived there more than four to five years. Since our purchase, some tenants are complaining about missing bathroom wall tiles. In addition, a tenant claiming that a bathroom sink and tub are broken, which will require new ones to be installed. They are threatening that they will not pay rent, unless these items are addressed. Is there a law that they can do this? I have taken care of a water heater problem, but I have no budget for cosmetic updates. Please let me know what my responsibility is. I thank you in advance.
Answer Two: A tenant can only withhold rent for a substantial issue regarding the habitability of the property. Failure to correct cosmetic issues would not allow a tenant to withhold the rent. Unfortunately, many judges and some Los Angeles City Inspectors, ignore the specific language in the Civil Code. Clearly, if the tub and sink are broken, that would be your responsibility to immediately repair.
Question Three: A fairly new tenant has a girlfriend that we are having issues with. I’ve told him that she cannot use the laundry room, but she has continued to use it. We installed a camera and found that she put a box over the new camera and stripped the screws, so that it was facing down. This occurred at 1:45 a.m. We now are dead bolting the door after 10 pm. Can I ban her from the property for this? She is rude, obnoxious and I want her gone. If it means him too, so be it.
Answer Three: Use of the laundry room can be restricted to your tenants only. Her action of disabling the camera, is clearly grounds to evict. I would tell your tenant that if she continues to frequent the premises, you will terminate his tenancy.
Question Four: I am in the process of evicting a tenant who refuses to pay rent. I had an inspection and the city required a repair of an outside balcony door. I made an appointment to enter the unit. The tenant makes every effort to derail my efforts. I entered the unit with a repairman and the tenant locked the door so that I could not get to the balcony door. I want to know if it is legal for me to get a ladder and make the necessary repairs to the door from the outside. The door will need to be opened and repaired, which can be done from the outside. Will I be penalized if repairs can’t be completed by due date?
Answer Four: It is quite common for tenants to refuse access, in an attempt to frustrate the ability of the landlord to make repairs. The tenant will then use the failure to make repairs as a defense to the eviction action. The “Warrantee of Habitability” was a legal concept which attempted to force landlords to make repairs, before the tenant had a duty to pay the rent. Unfortunately, as so many well intentioned laws, it has been bastardized by most tenants in eviction cases involving nonpayment of rent. If you serve a proper Notice to Access the Dwelling, you have the right to use any means to gain access. This would include the use of a ladder or to engage the services of a locksmith.
Question Five: I have a tenant who has brought in a dog as an emotional support animal. I would like to know what my rights are. Can I charge an extra security deposit? Can I require the tenant to take out a liability insurance policy, in case the dog bites someone? Lastly, can I require proof that in fact that this is truly an emotional support animal?
Answer Five: As I stated in my last answer, well intentioned laws become a mockery by persons that abuse the system. If the requirements of the law cannot be easily and completely verified, then in my opinion the law should not exist. In response to your question, you cannot require additional insurance or require a liability insurance policy. That would be considered a violation of the Federal and California Disability Act. You can, however, require the tenant show you a letter from a medical professional which states that the tenant has a disability which requires an emotional support animal.
Question Six: I recently found out that a tenant vacated my rent control unit and left a stranger behind. This stranger came to me and asked if he could take over the tenancy of the departed tenant. I am not sure how to handle this. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer Six: Generally, it is not wise to lease the unit to this person. At the very minimum, you should require this person to fill out an application and go through a full credit check. Even though your unit is under rent control, you are free to charge market rent.
Question Seven: I have a tenant who served me a 30 day notice to vacate. The tenant left after 20 days and turned in the key. These are my questions. Is the tenant responsible for the full 30 days of rent, even though I had possession earlier? Also, do I have 21 days to account for the security deposit from when the 30 day notice expires or from when the tenant actually vacated the unit?
Answer Seven: Your tenant is responsible for the rent for the full 30 days, even though you received possession within the 30 day period. With regard to the security deposit, you must send an itemization within 21 days from when the tenant actually turned over possession.
Question Eight: I have a tenant that is extremely picky. The carpeting was less than one year old so we just had it cleaned. Even though she accepted the unit, she now wants new carpeting. She also won’t allow any of my handymen to do the work in her unit, because she doesn’t like them and is now threatening to sue us. What do I do?
Answer Eight: I would ignore her threats. She has no right to demand new carpeting. In addition, inform your tenant that if she denies access to your handymen to make repairs, that this will result in her getting new carpeting in her next unit, as you will commence an eviction.
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. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.