Question One: I own a condominium in Long Beach, California. It is currently leased on a month-to-month rental agreement. My daughter is getting married and asked if she could move in after the wedding. Based on her request, I served a 60-day notice to terminate one of my tenants. My tenant informed me that they have no intention of moving. When my notice expires, I am planning to enter the condo to take possession, hopefully in an amicable way. I will have a locksmith with me to change the locks. Would you recommend calling the police in case the situation escalates?
Answer One: What you are planning on doing is clearly against the law. There are no “self-help” remedies to evict a tenant. You would need to go through the eviction process. Your case is, unfortunately, more complicated as a result of the pandemic. Los Angeles County has prohibited no-fault evictions. On that basis, your 60-day notice is void. You will need to wait for the State of Emergency to be declared over and then you will need to issue another 60-day notice.
Question Two: I just received a letter from a tenant that he will not be paying rent due to COVID-19. This property is located in the City of Los Angeles. He claims that he was laid off and cannot afford to pay the rent. I had his parents sign as a guarantor under this lease agreement. Can I make a demand for them to pay the rent? If they fail to pay, it would be my intention to sue them in small claims court.
Answer Two: It would not be legal to make a demand to the guarantor at this time, pursuant to the Los Angeles Eviction Moratorium Ordinance. Where a tenant has an inability to pay the rent due to the pandemic, the rent is deferred for one year from when the State of Emergency is declared over. On that basis, your tenant does not have a legal obligation to pay rent at this time. If a legal obligation does not exist, then your guarantors are not required to make payment at this time.
Question Three: I understand that under Statewide Rent Control (AB 1482) there are certain forms I must give my new and existing tenants. Can you go over the requirements?
Answer Three: An easy way to describe the requirements of this section of the statute is to divide it into three categories:
- If your property is subject to a local rent control ordinance, then there is no notice required.
- If your property is not subject to any rent control statute, you must give a notice of exemption to your existing tenants or it must be contained in any newly created rental agreement.
- If your property is subject to Statewide Rent Control (AB 1482), you must give your existing tenants notice that your property is under this statute or it must be contained in any newly created rental agreement.
These forms are available FREE to members from the AOA.
Question Four: I have a tenant who has stopped paying the rent for the last several months, claiming that she lost her job. I did some checking and I realize that this person used a fraudulent identity and Social Security number to qualify for this unit. I understand that evictions are prohibited at this time, but do you have any suggestions?
Answer Four: Many different types of evictions can be brought at this time, depending on the facts of the case. Most lease agreements state that any misrepresentation contained on the tenant’s application will be considered a non-curable breach of the agreement. On that basis, an eviction action could be brought forth immediately.
Question Five: Can a tenant force a landlord to install an air conditioner? I have a rent controlled building in Los Angeles. The tenant has lived in the unit for over 25 years. When he first moved in, a whole house fan was in place and operable. A few years ago the belt broke and was never replaced as parts are unavailable. Now, with a recent heat wave, the tenant is demanding that I install an air conditioner. Am I required to install an air conditioner? It should be noted that other units have window air conditions which were installed once the unit was vacated.
Answer Five: You are under no obligation to install an air conditioning unit. You are required to install a similar house fan, unless you would prefer to put in an air conditioning unit.
Question Six: I have a tenant who has leased one of my units for over 40 years ago. For the past several years, she has not lived in the unit as she has moved to Las Vegas, Nevada. Every month, I receive a timely rent check. Obviously, the rent is well below market value. It does not seem fair that the unit is only being used for storage. My property is located in Santa Monica. Is there anything that can be done?
Answer Six: Under the Santa Monica Rent Control Statute, a tenant cannot be afforded the protections of the statute unless the premises are being used as a primary residence. Since your tenant is not occupying the premises, you should start an application process with the City of Santa Monica which will allow you to terminate the tenancy.
Question Seven: I cannot believe that every law being passed appears to be against landlords and their property rights. Now I have heard that there is a ballot initiative, Proposition 21, which attempts to cause more havoc on our industry. Can you elaborate?
Answer Seven: Proposition 21 would be a disaster for income property owners. It would take away the right of vacancy decontrol. Currently, if a unit is vacated, a landlord is free to raise the rent to market level. Under this proposition, landlords would be limited to only a 15% rent increase. This ballot initiative will decimate our industry. Please get the word out that we must all vote NO ON PROPOSITION 21.
Question Eight: Dennis, can you tell me how your lawsuit is going against the California Judicial Council? Can we now bring forth evictions?
Answer Eight: I am very proud to tell you that the California Judicial Council terminated their unconstitutional emergency rules as of September 1, 2020. My lawsuit, currently pending in the California Supreme Court, was an influencing factor which caused the Council to reverse their actions. Eviction cases can now proceed, but are subject to the laws from local jurisdictions. Thank you all for your support in this matter. You truly played an important role in protecting our property rights.
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”.