Question One: I have a rent controlled tenant in the City of Los Angeles. I want to temporarily move this tenant into a vacant unit while we remodel his unit. We have agreed that once he moves back in, rent will not be charged for the first year. Thereafter, rent will go up to market value, $1,750. Is this legal?
Answer One: I am afraid that the City will view this as an illegal rent increase. In order for it to be legal, the tenant would have to permanently relocate into a different unit. You may charge any rental amount for that unit.
Question Two: I lease a single family residence in the San Fernando Valley. About six months ago, I served a 5% rent increase on my tenant. Recently, I served an additional rent increase of 5%. My tenant is telling me that this second increase is not legal, as he is entitled to a 60 day rent increase notice instead of the 30 day notice that I served. Is he correct?
Answer Two: Your tenant is incorrect. A 60 day notice is required only if you are raising the rent in excess of 10% within a one-year period. In this case, you were raising it a total of 10%, so your 30-day rent increase notice is legal.
Question Three: My tenant’s air conditioning went out. I called the repairman but he could not get there for two days. My tenant is now threatening to withhold rent next month. Can my tenant do this?
Answer Three: A landlord needs to fix items in a reasonable period of time. When the weather is very hot, it is difficult to get an air conditioning service immediately. Your actions were very reasonable. If the tenant attempts to withhold rent, issue a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
Question Four: I am buying an apartment house in Santa Ana located in Orange County. Does Santa Ana have rent control?
Answer Four: In Southern California, the following counties do not have rent control: Orange, San Bernardino, Riverside, Ventura and San Diego. In Los Angeles County, only the following cities have rent control: Los Angeles, West Hollywood, Santa Monica and Beverly Hills.
Question Five: I am selling my residential building and the buyer is requiring that the tenants sign estoppel agreements. One of the tenants is refusing, which might create a problem in the sale of the building. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer Five: An estoppel agreement merely tells the buyer the names of the tenants residing in the unit, the type of tenancy and what the current rent is. If this tenant refuses to sign the estoppel agreement, show the buyer the actual lease and show proof of payment. This should suffice and satisfy the buyer. All lease agreements should contain a clause which requires tenants to sign an estoppel. If this property is not under rent control and the tenant is on a month to month tenancy, I would issue a notice to quit to this individual.
Question Six: In my building the rents are all due on the first of the month. Recently, I had a tenant who gave me a 30-Day Notice to Quit on the 15th of the month. I thought tenants were only allowed to give a notice on the first. In addition, what happens on the first of the month? Does the tenant have to give me the entire rent?
Answer Six: A notice to terminate may be given on any day of the month. On the next due date, the tenant would be responsible to pay only the prorated amount of rent.
Question Seven: I have a tenant in Inglewood who is on a one year lease. This tenant constantly complains that things are wrong with the premises and has called the Health Department. I really do not want to continue with the tenant. His lease is set to expire next month. If I serve a Notice to Quit, would it be considered retaliatory?
Answer Seven: If your tenant has recently complained to the Health Department, it would be considered retaliatory to serve a Notice to Quit. It could be a complete defense to an eviction action. In this case, since your lease will expire next month, just send this tenant an informal letter that the tenancy will not be renewed and that you expect the tenant to vacate at the end of the lease term. Since you are not serving a Notice to Quit, this would not be considered retaliatory.
Question Eight: I recently finished an eviction case where the tenant pulled every trick. She contested the case and asked for a jury trial. On the day of the trial, she filed paperwork with the Federal Court, claiming that this matter had federal jurisdiction. The judge refused to proceed, stating that the State Court now did not have jurisdiction to hear the case. We were successful in having the Federal Court remand the case back to the State Court. On the next scheduled trial date, she presented a bankruptcy petition which again delayed the action for another 45 days. This simple eviction took over five months from start to finish. Attorney fees were over $8,000. I lost over $12,000 in rent. It was obvious that the tenant had no legal defense. This system is pure insanity. I know my attorney was doing his best, but something needs to be done. Do you have any suggestions?
Answer Eight: Unfortunately, this scenario occurs in too many cases. Tenants are “gaming” the system in an obvious attempt to steal from landlords. Clearly, this should be considered theft with criminal penalties. Unless the system is changed, this will continue. Legislation needs to be passed at the State level. Given our current politician makeup, this is very unlikely.
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.