Question One: I have a tenant who is creating a major nuisance on the property. My property is located in Bell, CA. I understand that Governor Newsom has placed a moratorium on evictions through July 28, 2020. Can you suggest an alternative solution? Many of our residents are working from home and cannot put up with the situation?

Answer One: Let me first state that you have a misunderstanding of the law. Nothing prevents you from filing an eviction action at this time. My firm has filed multiple evictions since the Governor first instituted his Executive Order N-28-20 dated March 27, 2020.

It should be noted, that the order only addresses cases dealing with an inability for a tenant to pay rent, based on the pandemic. There are no restrictions in filing evictions based on other violations of the rental agreement including the expiration of a fixed term lease. 

Evictions based on non-payment of rent can still continue if the failure to pay is unrelated to the coronavirus.

It should be noted that while an eviction action can be filed, the Judicial Council has ordered courts not to issue a summons. This prevents the service of the lawsuit on the tenant. The actions by the Judicial Council, in this firm’s opinion, are a complete overreach of their constitutional authority. As such, we have filed suit to end the implementation of these Emergency Rules. For more information please visit my website:  www.evict123.com/protect-our-rights

 

Question Two: I have a property located in the City of Los Angeles, which is under rent control. I had given my tenant a yearly rent increase, which took effect on April 1, 2020. My tenant indicates that he does not have to pay any increase, due to COVID-19. This is my normal rent increase of 4%, as sanctioned by the City of Los Angeles. Is he correct?

Answer Two: Mayor Eric Garcetti has suspended any rent increase that would have become effective as of April 1, 2020. This only affects residential units that are subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Single family homes, townhomes, condominiums and commercial property are exempt. According to the guidelines, as promulgated by the Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department, rent increases do NOT accumulate during this one year period. These guidelines were distributed as of May 26, 2020 and differ from my previous advice given in this column. 

 

Question Three: My 5+ unit building in the City of Los Angeles is subject to Statewide Rent Control, AB1482, and not the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. We intend to substantially renovate the entire building. On March 4th, we issued 60-day notices to terminate the tenancy of all tenants.  Los Angeles has a moratorium on evictions. But what does that mean for our notice timeline?  Is the 60 day clock paused or does the notice period continue and just our ability to “exercise” our eviction rights are paused? Is our notice still valid? Thanks for all of your landlord support.

Answer Three: Pursuant to Los Angeles City Ordinance 186585, “No owner shall exercise a No-Fault Eviction during the Local Emergency Period.” This ordinance became effective on March 31, 2020 and is retroactive to when the local emergency was proclaimed. It applies to all residential units. On that basis, you cannot bring forth an eviction at this time. I would suggest accepting rent and then issue a new 60 day notice, once the local emergency period is deemed over. 

 

Question Four: I am concerned about leasing out my vacant unit. What if after the first month the tenants claim that they lost their job and cannot work. My property is located in Anaheim. I am truly dependent on this income and it was just poor timing that I have a vacancy at this time.  

Answer Four: Your concern is truly justified. I am representing a client who just leased a large home in Beverly Hills. The monthly rent is $27,500. On the second month, the tenants informed my client that due to the COVID-19 epidemic, they will not be paying the rent. Of course, in this situation, that will not be considered a proper defense for non-payment of rent. As to your situation, I would not delay in leasing your unit.  You should screen your applicants closely and consider the type of work they do. If you believe that your tenant’s industry is subject to closure, I would avoid that applicant.

 

Question Five: I have a tenant who has lost his job and has failed to pay rent for April, May and June 2020. My property is located in San Diego County. I allowed the resident to remain, based on County’s eviction moratorium.  Under this resolution, is there time when the deferred rent is to be paid?   

Answer Five: Under the moratorium, the rent is deferred for six months from the time that the emergency is declared over. It is currently set to expire as of June 30, 2020. 

 

Question Six: My property is subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance in the City of Los Angeles. 25% of my tenants have failed to pay rent for April, 2020 and 50% have failed to pay for May, 2020. They are telling me that they now have one year to pay back this missing rent. Is this true? Please tell me what my options are.

Answer Six: Mayor Garcetti’s Emergency Order affects all residential and commercial tenancies in the City of Los Angeles. A tenant must inform the landlord in writing, that the reason for the non-payment is directly related to the COVID-19 epidemic. The Los Angeles Housing and Community Investment Department is informing tenants to notify their landlord within seven days of rent being due. There is no requirement that the tenant show documentation. If the landlord receives written notice, residential tenants will have one year to pay the deferred rent, from the time that the declared emergency is terminated. For commercial tenants, the time would be three months.

If your tenant does not communicate in writing to you, you would have the right to bring forth an eviction action immediately.

 

Question Seven: I bought a duplex in the City of Los Angeles with the intent to move into one of the units. I filed my application with the City, which was approved. I paid the tenant relocation funds totaling $21,200. I was set to move in on May 1, 2020. My tenant informs me that due to the coronavirus they will not be moving. They also refuse to return the relocation which I paid. Mr. Block, I am so frustrated as I just want to live in the property that I bought with my life savings.

Answer Seven: I certainly understand how you feel. Clearly, the tenant should have made prior arrangements to move. Under the City ordinance as of March 31, 2020, you may not proceed with an eviction at this time. This is considered a no-fault eviction.

Question Eight: I have a tenant that is refusing to pay the rent due to the epidemic. He claims that he is not working and therefore cannot pay. I know for a fact that this tenant has not had a job for the last year, as he is retired. He has been living on his social security and savings. Is there any basis for this tenant to withhold rent?

Answer Eight: In all jurisdictions the failure to pay rent must be directly related to the coronavirus. In your situation, clearly it is not related. Your tenant is merely attempting to take advantage of the situation. I suspect that this will be the case in many situations where landlords are attempting to collect rent. Remember that there is no rent forgiveness. Rent is merely being deferred. I suggest you should serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit on this tenant and proceed forward with an 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”.