Question One: I leased a house to a tenant. I requested a security deposit in the sum of $1,500 and he promised that it would be paid within 30 days. It has now been four months and he refuses to pay the security deposit. I had him sign a one-year lease. What can I do to get to my security?

Answer One: In general, if your applicant cannot afford to pay the full security deposit and the first month’s rent, you should decline to lease to this individual. In your situation you should serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If the security deposit is not paid within the three day period, you should institute an unlawful detainer action.

Question Two: I am very confused regarding the new law as to how much time a tenant gets to pay rent when served with a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Can you go over the rules?

Answer Two: Effective Sept. 1, 2019, the California Legislature enacted a new law that allows a tenant more time to pay the rent, before an unlawful detainer can be initiated.  In general, the three-day period cannot include Saturdays, Sundays or Legal Holidays. Below is a simple guide:

  • Notice Served on Sunday—Expires on Wednesday
  • Notice Served on Monday—Expires on Thursday
  • Notice Served on Tuesday—Expires on Friday
  • Notice Served on Wednesday Expires on Monday
  • Notice Served on Thursday—Expires on Tuesday
  • Notice Served on Friday—Expires on Wednesday
  • Notice Served on Saturday—Expires on Wednesday

Please note if one of the days is a Legal Holiday, you will need to add an extra day.

Question Three: I own a condominium in the City of Los Angeles.  It was built in 1971. I have a tenant on a six-month lease, which will terminate shortly. Do I have the right to issue a letter of non-renewal to my tenant? This tenant has been very demanding and I think it would be best if we part ways.

Answer Three: Unfortunately, your condominium is subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. You do not have the right to issue a letter of non-renewal. In order to terminate the tenancy, you would need to have “good cause” as defined by the ordinance. It should be pointed out that you do have other options. While your unit is subject to rent control ordinance, you are not subject to rent limitations. This is based on the State law. As such, you could issue an increase the rent to any level.

Question Four: I am a lawyer representing a landlord in an eviction in a rent stabilized unit in Los Angeles. The tenant is in violation of the lease, by not paying the full amount of rent and she hasn’t paid electricity in the past six months. These items are both violation of the lease. Two 3-days notices were served on her, for each violation. The tenant retained a public attorney and demanded a jury trial. I was served with discovery requests in the form of interrogatories and request for production of documents. The attorney also asserted every defense under the book, including ones that were not applicable. I complied with the discovery requests, but the defense counsel has not responded to my discovery. In addition, his client failed to show up for a deposition that I scheduled. What steps should I take from this point?

Answer Four: Welcome to the new world of evictions. It is very common for tenants to obtain free legal services in an attempt to bastardize our legal system. Public counsel, which is paid with our tax dollars, will employ every tactic to delay the case and to cause the legal fees to increase for the landlord. In the end, they are looking for free rent for their clients and a cash payment to settle. In your case, I would immediately file a motion to compel and ask for sanctions to force the public attorney to respond to your discovery and to require the tenant to take a deposition. At the same time, I would request a trial date. On the day of trial you should be prepared to go forward with the action.

Question Five: We went to show an available property yesterday that is still tenant occupied. The interested party showed up with a “service dog” and demanded entrance. The tenants were not home to ask if they were ok with a dog coming into their home. Are we obligated to show the occupied property to anyone with a service animal, without permission from the current occupants? This is a house, not a public business. Our feelings would be that if he wanted to view an occupied property, we would have to first obtain permission from the current tenants. Is this correct?

Answer Five: If the person has a legitimate service animal, you would have to allow the person and the animal into the unit. Take for example an applicant with a seeing-eye dog. Clearly, the dog should be allowed to enter the unit. You do not need additional permission from the current occupants if you have already served a proper access notice. 

Question Six: I served a 60 day notice to my tenant. He told me that after the 60 days, he can petition to live for six months’ rent free. Is this true? Can I not just file for an eviction, once the 60 day notice expires?

Answer Six: You tenant is clearly lying. There is no petition process that would allow him to live rent free for six months. Once the 60 day notice expires, you should immediately file an unlawful detainer action. It is common for tenants to make outrageous claims in an attempt to prevent the landlord from taking proper legal action.

Question Seven: I inherited a house from my late uncle. He had two caretakers living with him when he died. I have requested that they move, but they refuse. They claim to have a deal with my uncle that they could stay there rent free for an additional two years after he died. They have no documentation to back up their claims. Can I evict them?

Answer Seven: Any agreement, as they described, would not be enforceable unless it was in writing. You should serve a notice on them that their employment is terminated as a result of the death of your uncle. The notice should give the caretakers three days to vacate the premises. If they do not, an immediate eviction should be commenced. 

Question Eight: I filed my own eviction lawsuit and obtained a judgment. I delivered the paperwork to the Sheriff’s office. The tenant has now called me and has set up an emergency hearing. He called it “exparte notice”. He claims that he was not served with the lawsuit, even though I used a registered process server. How is this possible and can the judge make me start all over again?

Answer Eight: It is quite common for tenants to ignore lawsuits and then file an exparte hearing once they get served by the Sheriff with a Notice to Vacate. A judge will then have to determine whether the tenant was properly served. You should bring the process server with you to the hearing, as this person will be able to testify in most cases. If the judge sets aside the judgment, you will need to go through the process all over again.

On a personal note, I would like to thank all of the members who attended the AOA Trade Show. I am glad that you enjoyed my presentation.  

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”.