Question One: I own a home in Redondo Beach, and the lease is up for renewal next month. We have informed the tenants that we are not renewing the lease and have asked them to move out. Can the current COVID restrictions give tenants the right to stay even after a lease expires? If the tenant does not move out, is eviction the only recourse? Lastly, based on the current situation, does it take long to go through an eviction? Thanks.
Answer One: The tenant does not have the right to remain in possession after the lease expires. If the tenant does not vacate at the end of the lease term, you would be required to initiate an unlawful detainer action. Be careful not to accept rent for the period following the lease term. Eviction cases are now proceeding at a normal pace, which is 4 to 10 weeks.
Question Two: I have a mixed-use building which consists of two residential and two commercial units. The commercial tenant is giving me notice that he intends to vacate as the residential tenant has made a threat to his life. During these COVID-19 times, can I evict the residential tenant?
Answer Two: An eviction could always be brought for this type of conduct. You should investigate the charges of the commercial tenant. What were the exact words that the residential tenant uttered? Was this a one-time incident? What occurred prior to the aggressive act of the residential tenant? Are there any witnesses and would they be willing to testify if the matter proceeds to trial? You should also interview the residential tenant to obtain this person’s version of the facts. Finally, be advised that since you have been made aware of this threat, you have an obligation as a landlord to investigate.
Question Three: I own a triplex in the City of Alhambra. The property is for sale and a potential buyer wants me to evict one of the three tenants so he can occupy the unit with his family. Can we do this now, or do we have to wait for the COVID restrictions to expire? Thank you.
Answer Three: Under the Tenant Relief Act (CCP 1179.03.5), if the property is under a contract for sale and the purchaser intends to occupy the premises as his primary residence, the seller can issue a 30 day notice to vacate. You would need to state the reasons for the termination of the tenancy in the 30 day notice to quit.
Question Four: It is my understanding that during the eviction process, a landlord is not supposed to accept any payment from the tenant. If the landlord receives even a portion of the rent, the judge will rule against the eviction. The tenant I’m planning to evict pays rent by an electronic transfer to my bank account. After I start the eviction, I won’t be able to stop him from depositing into my bank account. In anticipation to this problem, should I close that bank account, or is there another way to handle the situation? Thank you!
Answer Four: Do not be concerned. If money is deposited to your bank account, you would merely need to send your personal check back to the tenant. You should include a note that the payment made was an “unauthorized deposit”.
Question Five: I own a house in West Hollywood. I have a tenant who has complained of numerous issues since occupying the premises. He is threatening to call the City and report me and also to file a suit for emotional distress. He is demanding that I fix a crack in the ceiling and that I paint all exterior windows, doors and house and garden walls. He is complaining about one small uneven step and a gate that is stiff and does not close easily. What are my obligations in a situation like this?
Answers Five: You do not have to concern yourself with cosmetic issues. There is no reason to fix the crack in the ceiling. Painting would only be required if there is evidence of peeling or chipping. If the stair poses a risk of falling, I would have it corrected. Lastly, I would apply oil to the gate. If it does close, you have no further obligation. This person appears to be a “malcontent”. You should document all of your actions in a letter or an email each time your tenant makes a request.
Question Six: I have a guest house that is subject to Statewide Rent Control (AB 1482). It is located in Los Angeles County. Can I issue a rent increase at this time, even though we are still in the emergency state?
Answer Six: Nothing prevents you from serving a rent increase on a month-to-month tenant. You are permitted one rent increase per year. Assuming rent has not been raised in the past year, you are entitled to issue a rent increase of 5% plus the CPI. This year, for Los Angeles County, the CPI for April, 2020 was .7%. On this basis, you could issue a rent increase for a total of 5.7%.
Question Seven: I have a tenant in Van Nuys. They have occupied the premises since 1994. They are currently on a month-to-month agreement which states that the premises are to be occupied by two adults and four children. Pets are not allowed. I just found out that there are 5 adults and 2 dogs. In addition, I have witnessed damage to my property and they have altered the premises by putting up a wall without my permission. What can I do? Does the pandemic prevent me from evicting?
Answer Seven: You are free to proceed with an eviction immediately. The moratorium on evictions only relate to certain cases dealing with non-payment of rent. You should serve a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit. The notice should require that they remove the extra persons, the pets and the wall. If the tenant does not comply within the 3-day period, an action can be filed.
Question Eight: On October 11, 2020 and then again on October 27, 2020 my tenants began screaming and yelling throughout the evening. I could hear them jumping up and down. I tried calling them, but there was so much noise I am sure that they could not hear the phone ring. Obviously, conduct like this cannot be tolerated. What would you suggest?
Answer Eight: I would send your tenants a letter congratulating them that both of their Los Angeles sports teams finally won this year! Congrats to the Lakers and Dodgers. For the record, there was a lot of screaming in my house as well!
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”.