Question One: I have someone moving in with poor credit but has a co-signer that will guarantee performance of the lease. Do I include the co-signer on the lease as a tenant, even though the co-signer will not be occupying the premises? Thanks for your help.

Answer One: I generally do not recommend having a co-signer. If the actual tenant is not credit worthy you might consider finding a new applicant. There are some instances where a co-signer is appropriate. 

One example would be in the case of student housing.  In that case, make sure that the co-signer is local. A co-signer in a different state would make it a difficult proposition for collection. I would actually list the co-signer as an actual tenant and not have a co-signer designation. In this way, if you do need to bring forth an unlawful detainer, that person can be named in the lawsuit. 

 Question Two: I own rent control units in the City of West Hollywood. I lease the garages by way of a separate parking agreement. This was a suggestion I heard from you at one of your seminars.  I now want to terminate the contract. Is this permissible even though the building is under rent control? Also, what type of notice is required and can I merely change the locks if the tenant does not vacate?

Answer Two: A garage rental is considered commercial and therefore is not subject to the rent control ordinance. You would need to terminate the tenancy by serving a formal 30 Day Notice to Quit. A 60 Day Notice is not required in commercial tenancies. If the tenant does not timely vacate, you would be required to file an unlawful detainer. 

 Question Three: I bought a rent control building in the City of Los Angeles. The seller did not have rental agreements on all of the units. He did have the tenants sign estoppel agreements. In one unit, the estoppel agreement indicated that there were only two occupants. I have now come to realize that five persons are actually occupying the premises. Would this be a good case for eviction?

Answer Three: In order to evict for additional persons, you would need to have a written rental agreement. An estoppel is not considered to be an enforceable contract. You would be able to raise the rent 10% for each additional person that is occupying the premises. You would need to serve a 60 day notice to increase the rent. You must serve this notice within 60 days of your discovery that additional persons were occupying the premises.

 Question Four: I bought a house at a foreclosure sale. The property is located in Oxnard, California. There are people who are occupying the premises. I went over to introduce myself as the new owner and they became very hostile. They refused to give me their names and ordered me off the property. I am not sure what to do. What is your suggestion? 

Answer Four: You are obviously going to need to evict these individuals. Since they will not give you their names, you should assume that these persons are the previous owners. In that instance, a 3 Day Notice to Quit would be served. The law requires that you inform any renters in possession that they are entitled to a 90 Day Notice to Quit. If the individuals are claiming that they are in fact tenants, you may require them to show a lease agreement and proof of any payments. This type of notice is best handled by the services of an experienced attorney. 

 Question Five: My lease specifies that both parties must give a 60 day notice in order to terminate the tenancy. My tenant sent me a text that he would be vacating by June 15th. This text was sent on May 15th. The tenant actually vacated the premises on June 30th. Is he liable for any rent beyond June 30th?

Answer Five:  A text is not proper notice to terminate a tenancy. A formal written Notice to Quit must be served. In this instance, the tenant did not even timely vacate based on his own termination date. Your tenant is liable for rent for an additional 60 days from when he actually vacated the premises. The only exception would be if you leased the premises during this 60 day period. In that event, your tenant would only be liable for the days that the premises were not leased.

 Question Six: I leased a remodeled unit to a tenant that had a new door and brand new lock installed. The tenant claims that the lock will not latch properly and is requesting that I send a repairman to fix the problem. The lock and door are only six months old and worked perfectly when the premises were leased. Is it my responsibility to take care of this issue?

Answer Six: It should be noted that everything works until it doesn’t! Unless you can prove that it was the tenant’s negligence or abuse that caused the lock to malfunction, then it is definitely your responsibility to take care of the problem. 

Question Seven: How should I handle complaints about one tenant towards another?  For example, a downstairs tenant complains when the people upstairs vacuum or walk loudly.  So the downstairs tenant bangs on the ceiling.  I get complaints from one about the vacuuming and the other about the banging. How should I handle this?

Answer Seven: Tenants are allowed to make normal sounds in their unit. And, of course, a tenant should be able to vacuum during the day. Tell the downstairs tenant that if these actions continue, you will be forced to initiate eviction proceedings. 

 Question Eight: Is there any way to force a tenant to maintain Renter’s Insurance? I want to be protected if there is damage to the tenant’s personal property.

Answer Eight: In order to require a tenant to maintain Renter’s Insurance, it must be contained in the lease agreement. Not only should this provision cover loss to the tenant’s personal property, but it should also cover relocation expenses if the tenant is forced to temporarily vacate. If the current rental agreement does not impose this obligation, it can be added by serving a change of terms of tenancy notice. This cannot be used if there is a fixed term lease, only on a month- to-month tenancy. 

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”.