Question One: I am selling my single family residence to a lovely family. Escrow is scheduled to close in 45 days. I have issued my long term tenant a 30-day notice to vacate. My tenant responded that she has lived in the house for over one year and therefore is entitled to a 60-day notice to vacate. What are my options?
Answer One: You have nothing to worry about. The law does require that you serve a 60-day notice to a tenant if the tenant has resided on the property for one year or longer, however, there is an exception to this law. If the property is in escrow and the buyer intends to occupy the unit, a 30-day notice is sufficient. You should inform your tenant of this law.
Question Two: I have a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. I recently lost my eviction case. This was based on the fact that I had not posted some notice that states the premises are subject to rent control. I have never heard about this law. Is this true?
Answer Two: The City of Los Angeles requires that you post a specific form on the premises, notifying the tenants that the building is under rent control. This notice must be posted in a conspicuous location. Usually this would be by the mailboxes. The form is available from the Apartment Owners Association (AOA) [and members may download it free by visiting www.aoausa.com.]. This notice is different from the Certification of Rent Registration, which must be served to each tenant every year. Under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, any violation is considered a defense to an eviction action. Tenant attorneys are now using this issue to prevail in eviction cases.
Question Three: I am leasing a unit in a building that has a “no pet” policy. Recently, an applicant came and informed me that she has a registered service animal. I took the application but since I have a “no-pet’ policy in place, am I obligated to lease this unit to this applicant?
Answer Three: Under the California and American Disability Act, you cannot discriminate against an applicant that has a service animal. If the applicant qualifies for the unit, you must offer to lease. Failure to do so could result in a civil lawsuit being filed.
Question Four: In the Apartment Owners Association (AOA) lease it states that there is a $500 attorney fee limitation to the prevailing party, if a suit is filed between the landlord and the tenant. I recently prevailed in an eviction action, where my attorney fees were in excess of $5,000. My attorney told me that based on this lease agreement, the attorney fees could only be $500. Was this a good clause to have in my lease?
Answer Four: I definitely recommend having this provision in a lease. If you had lost your eviction case, even on a technicality, you would have been responsible for your tenant’s attorney fees. These law firms generally ask for fees ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. In many cases, the judgment you obtain against your tenant is not collectable. That would not be the case where a judgment is entered against the landlord.
Question Five: I have an older building in the City of Los Angeles. It has a lot of deferred maintenance. I am considering demolishing the building and building an eight unit apartment complex. What are the requirements of forcing the tenants to vacate?
Answer Five: Under the Ellis Act, you have the right to evict your existing tenants, if you are planning to demolish the building. You would have to file an application with the Los Angeles Housing & Community Investment Department. Once approved, you would be required to serve your tenants with a 120 day notice to vacate. Be advised that if any tenant is over 62, or is handicapped, they can request a one-year notice. In all cases, however, relocation would have to be paid. It ranges from $7,800 to $19,500 per unit.
Question Six: I have a one bedroom apartment for lease. I recently had an applicant who wanted to lease the unit. There are five persons in his family. I rejected this person as I thought that this would be too many persons occupying the unit. Did I make a correct decision?
Answer Six: You did not do anything wrong. An owner is allowed to set a reasonable limit for the amount of persons that will occupy a unit. Your criteria should always be consistent and should not be designed to discriminate against families. For example, if you stated that only one person could occupy a single unit, you would be discriminating against children. Fair Housing uses the formula of two persons for each bedroom plus one additional person.
Question Seven: My property is located in Long Beach. How often can you raise rent and by what percentage?
Answer Seven: Your property is located in a civilized jurisdiction, as no rent control exists. There is no limitation on the amount, or the frequency, of rent increases. If you are increasing the rent more than 10%, in any one-year period, a 60 day notice of increase would be required.
Question Eight: I had an applicant call me about a two story building I own. They asked if they could put a stair lift for their elderly father. Am I required to let them do this if I rent to them? My property is located in Corona, CA.
Answer Eight: You are required to allow for a reasonable accommodation, if someone suffers from a disability. If the stair lift can be installed, so as not to interfere with other residents’ use of the stairs, then you are required to allow this lift. The stair lift would be at the tenant’s expense.
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 or Orange: 714.634.8232 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 is back on the air! Tune in every Monday at 1:00 p.m. on KTYM 1460 on your am dial and call in with your questions.