Question One: I served a 60 day notice to vacate to a tenant who is on a month-to-month tenancy. The notice will expire in the middle of the following month. How should I handle it if the tenant attempts to pay the full amount of the rent on the first? This tenant in the past has made deposits to my bank account, which I am not able to prevent. Your suggestions would be helpful.
Answer One: The law states that you cannot accept rent past the expiration of the notice. Acceptance of the rent would invalidate your 60 day notice. If the tenant tenders you the full rental amount, you cannot accept it and tender back that portion which extends beyond the expiration of the notice. If the tenant makes an automatic deposit into your account, you should wait for the payment to clear. Once the check has cleared, you should send your personal check to the tenant for that same amount. You should include a note to your tenant that states that the payment constituted an unauthorized deposit into your account.
Question Two: I own a rent-controlled property inNorth Hollywood. After the tenant moves out, may I increase the rental rate to market value, or am I limited to a 3% rent increase?
Answer Two: Since the tenant voluntarily vacated, you are allowed to raise the rent to market level. It should be noted that effective July 1, 2019 the City of Los Angeles has approved a 4% rent increase for existing tenancies. If you are considering raising the rents on your existing tenants in May or June, you might wish to delay the increase until July, so as to be able to raise the rent by 4%.
Question Three: Is it permissible to supply a space heater to a tenant? We have a wall furnace that has broken down. The repair person has informed me that due to the age of the furnace replacement parts are unavailable and the whole unit will need to be replaced. This will be extremely costly and I am sure that portable space heaters would heat the unit sufficiently.
Answer Three: That would be in violation of building codes. Every residential unit must have a fixed heating system. While you can use a space heater as a temporary arrangement, you must install a fixed heating unit.
Question Four: Can a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit request that the funds be sent to a Post Office Box? Also, may I request in the notice, that the money be deposited directly into my bank account?
Answer Four: It is permissible to state in the 3 Day Notice that the money be paid to a Post Office Box. In that situation, if the tenant mails the rent within the three-day period, that would be considered in compliance with the notice regardless of when the funds actually arrived. It is also permissible to have the tenant make a direct deposit into your bank account. In that situation, your 3 Day Notice must state your account number, the bank name, the hours that the bank is opened and the address of the bank. The bank must be located within five miles of the subject premises.
Question Five: I have a tenant who has complained about rats. I immediately sent out a pest control company who set traps and inspected for points of entry. It was determined that the rodents were entering the premises by way of a “doggie door” that the tenant installed without my approval. Can I hold the tenant responsible for pest control charges?
Answer Five: In general, a landlord is responsible to keep the premises free of pests and rodents. In this situation, your tenant would be responsible for the cost, as it was the tenant’s own action which created the problem. I would present the tenant with the invoice. If the tenant fails to pay, you may serve a Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit. This notice would demand the reimbursement of the pest control invoice. In addition, you should demand in this notice that the “doggie door” be removed and that door restored to its original condition.
Question Six: I recently brought forth an eviction action against my tenant for non-payment of rent. The tenant contested the action but did not have an attorney. I requested a trial date which was mailed to me by the court clerk. I arrived at the courtroom and my tenant was present. When our case was called, the tenant told the judge that he needed more time to find an attorney and requested a continuance. Over my objection, the court immediately granted my tenant’s request and granted a two week continuance. I am outraged by the action of the judge. This tenant had over a month, since the filing of the lawsuit to obtain the services of an attorney. The rent for this unit is $2,500 per month and the tenant currently owes me 3 months of past due rent. The granting of the continuance will costs me another $1,250. I asked the judge to at least have the tenant post one month’s rent with the court and the judge refused. This is clearly unfair. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer Six: I feel your frustration with the legal system. There clearly is a bias on the part of some judges to side with tenants. My firm sees these types of rulings on a daily basis. Of course, the action of the judge in your situation would be legal under judicial discretion. It should be noted that you always have the right to exclude a particular judge from hearing your case. My firm has a list of judges that we feel are totally biased. When our cases go to those particular courtrooms, we file a form called an “Affidavit of Prejudice- CCP 170.6”, which will force our cases to a different courtroom.
Question Seven: Well, here is one that you will not believe. I recently bought a house inLong Beach. It was occupied by the seller. Escrow has now closed and the deed was recorded. The seller informed me that he would need a couple of more days to vacate, which I reluctantly agreed to his request. It has now been one week and he is telling me that he is not sure when he can vacate. This is outrageous. He has my funds and yet he will not move. Do you think that the police will force him out? I have all my documents to show the police that I am the rightful owner.
Answer Seven: In this situation, the police will not be able to force the seller out. You will actually need to go through the eviction process. It is required that you serve a 3 Day Notice to Quit. If the seller does not vacate within the three-day period, you will need to commence an eviction. In addition to seeking possession, you will also be able to ask for the rental value of the premises for the time that this person was illegally in possession.
Question Eight: I have a tenant under rent control in the City of Los Angeles. I have found out that she is subleasing her unit for short-term rentals. I have no written rental agreement with her. Her rent is very low due to rent control and this person is literally making more money on rent then I am. Is there any way I can prevent this or at least get some additional rent?
Answer Eight: Effective July 1, 2019, a new City Ordinance will go into effect dealing with “Home-Sharing”. This will allow owners of homes, and in some cases tenants, to legally rent out their homes for short term rentals. The home must be the host’s primary residence and rentals cannot exceed 120 days annually. A City license is required at a cost of $89 per year. It should be noted that tenants cannot act as a host unless given permission by the landlord. Lastly, and most significant, is this ordinance does not apply to rent control units. If your tenant continues to do short term rentals after July 1, 2019, that will be in violation of the ordinance and subject your tenant to hefty fines by the city. In addition, that would serve as grounds for 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”.