Question One: I have a 20 unit building in the City of San Fernando. There was a death in one of the units. I know under California law I must disclose the death to prospective tenants. Do I have to disclose this information to applicants when leasing other units in the complex?

Answer One: You are correct that you must disclose to applicants that there has been a death in the unit. This disclosure must continue for a 3-year period from the death of the tenant. There is no need to inform other prospective tenants with regard to other units in the premises. 

Question Two: I have a unit where both a husband and wife have signed on a lease. Currently, the lease is month-to-month. The wife has recently filed for divorce and has filed for a restraining order. She has asked me to prepare a new rental agreement with just her name on it. My question is can I sign a new rental agreement with the wife’s name only. Also, how do I handle the security deposit that was paid for by both parties? 

Answer Two: I would suggest that you do not get involved in this situation. You can only enter into a new rental agreement with the wife, if the husband agrees.  The wife does have the right to terminate her tenancy and to vacate the premises as a result of obtaining a restraining order. Once the premises have been vacated, you are then required to account for the security deposit. 

Question Three: I have a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. The rental agreement prohibits pets on the property. My long-term tenant wishes to obtain a small dog and has asked for my permission.  He told me that he was willing to increase his security deposit and pay additional rent. What should I do? 

Answer Three: I commend your tenant for being upfront with you and for his offer. Usually, tenants just bring in a pet and attempt to hide it from the landlord. Under the law, you would be able to increase the security deposit up to an amount equal to two month’s rent. You would need to sign a new rental agreement which notes this additional security deposit and the right to maintain one small dog on the property. Under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance you would not be able to accept any additional rent.  In this situation, I would approve this change.

Question Four: I intend to purchase a single family residence. The house is currently occupied by the owner’s friend. He allowed this person to stay temporarily and did not charge rent. The owner is refusing to take any steps to remove this person and under the sales agreement it would be my responsibility to take care of this situation. Will this person be considered a tenant or trespasser? What do I need to do to evict this person and is relocation required to be paid?

Answer Four: This person is neither a tenant nor a trespasser. This person is a lawful occupant in possession of the premises. Once you are the owner, you would need to serve a 3 Day Notice to Quit. This is pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 116a (b). If the occupant remains after the notice expires, an eviction action would be required. No relocation funds need to be paid.

Question Five: One of my tenants won a raffle at a church. This tenant is now paying the rent with two checks. One of the checks is from her and the other check is from the church. The check from the church is made out to me with the notation that it is for the December’s rent. Is it safe to accept this? 

Answer Five: I see no problem in negotiating this check. Under a new California law, landlords are required to accept checks from third parties. The party must indicate in writing that the check is paying rent for the named tenant and that this payment is not considered an attempt to create a tenancy.

 Question Six: I had a tenant that had a vermin issue. As soon as I was contacted, I immediately called a pest control company which came out the next day. Traps were set and entry points into the unit were sealed. The problem was completely resolved within 7 days. This tenant is now attempting to deduct 4 days rent due to this issue. Is the tenant allowed to do that and if not, what are my remedies.

Answer Six: A landlord has an obligation to remedy a problem within a reasonable period of time. Your actions clearly were in accordance with the law. The tenant has no basis of deducting anything from the rent. If the tenant does not tender the full rent, you should issue a 3 Day Notice to Pay the Rent or Quit. If the full rent is not paid within the 3-day period, an eviction action should be commenced. 

 Question Seven: We would like to terminate a Section 8 contract. The unit is not located in a rent control area. Section 8 told us to give a 90 Day Notice to the tenant and to send them a copy.  Our rental agreement only requires a 30 day notice to vacate, after the first year. Based on this situation, is it a 30 or 90 day notice? Thank you very much. 

Answer Seven: Notwithstanding the provision of your lease agreement, the Federal rules prevail. You would need to issue a 90 day notice to terminate the tenancy. Under the Section 8 guidelines, you must state reasons for the termination. Economic concerns are a proper reason for terminating a Section 8 tenancy. 

 Question Eight: I now find that all of my rental units are under AB 1482, statewide rent control. I am shocked this is now happening. I understand that you gave a lecture for the Apartment Owners Association which detailed the major points of the statute. Is it possible that I can get a copy of your notes?

Answer Eight: I can do better than that! The AOA has posted the video on their website. It can be viewed at: www.aoausa.com/ab1482.  Landlords who will be seriously impacted should give serious consideration to terminating a tenancy based on substantial remodeling. This will allow you to terminate any tenancy, by paying the tenant relocation in the sum of one month rent. Substantial remodeling as defined by the statute as follows: “The replacement or substantial modification of any structural, electrical, plumbing, or mechanical system that requires a permit from a governmental agency, or the abatement of hazardous materials, including lead-based paint, mold, or asbestos, in accordance with applicable federal, state, and local laws, that cannot be reasonably accomplished in a safe manner with the tenant in place and that requires the tenant to vacate the residential real property for at least 30 days. Cosmetic improvements alone, including painting, decorating, and minor repairs, or other work that can be performed safely without having the residential real property vacated, do not qualify as substantial rehabilitation.”

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”.