Question One: Do you think it is a wise idea to allow tenants to make direct deposits into my bank account? This would sure make it simpler for me, as I would not have to collect the rent and then make a deposit. My only concern would be that the tenants would have my bank account information.

Answer One: Many landlords allow tenants to make direct deposits to their bank accounts. I do not see anything adverse in allowing this practice. You would have a clear record if the rent was paid timely. It should be noted that any time you deposit a check, the maker of the check can see the name of your bank and your account number. There is no security issue in allowing your tenants to have your bank account number.

Question Two: I have a tenant who is moving out from my apartment in Gardena. She owes rent for several months and claimed she could not pay due to COVID. In calculating the security deposit itemization form, can I deduct this unpaid rent?

Answer Two: Incredulously, the law states that you cannot deduct rent owed during the COVID period which is currently from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021. This would not be considered a proper deduction under the “Tenant Relief Act”. The law requires that the delinquent rent be paid as of July 1, 2021 and if unpaid, you may bring forth a civil lawsuit as of August 1, 2021.

Question Three: I have applied for the Rent Relief Program where I would receive 80% of the rent if I am willing to forego receiving 20% of the balance. I have filled out the forms online, but I am finding that the tenants are refusing to participate. If they do not participate, I am not entitled to any rent relief. I cannot understand how tenants can be so lazy.  Do you have any suggestions?

Answer Three: Under the California Rent Relief Program, both the landlord and the tenant must participate. Once the landlord fills out the form online, an invitation is sent to the tenant. The website is www.housingiskey.com . In order to qualify, the tenant must make less than 80% of the median income for the county in which the tenant resides.  I would suspect that your tenants are not participating because they do not qualify under the guidelines of the program. Many tenants are withholding rent and falsely using the pandemic as their excuse. If tenants participate in the program, they will not be liable for rent for the period of April 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. If they fail to participate, then all rent will still be owed by the tenant.   

Question Four: I inherited a single-family residence in Los Angeles from my grandmother. My relatives were living here with grandma years before her passing. They now continue to live alone at the property, giving me $500 per month. There is no lease. I would like to move into the property. Are they considered tenants? Can I terminate the tenancy or give written notice during the moratorium? Thank you.

Answer Four: Your relatives would be considered tenants. Under the Emergency State for the City of Los Angeles, you cannot terminate a tenancy without a proper reason. You will need to wait for the Mayor of Los Angeles to declare that the State of Emergency is over and then you will be able to issue a 60-day notice to vacate. No reason need be stated in the notice and no relocation is required. Currently, the Mayor cannot extend the State of Emergency beyond August 1, 2021.

Question Five: I have a single-family residence that was built in 1995. Am I required to have “Just Cause” to evict? Also am I subject to any rent control?

Answer Five: Regardless of the year your property was built, your SFR does not require “Just Cause” to issue a termination notice. In addition, your property is not subject to rent control and therefore you can establish any rental amount. You are required however, to serve on your tenant the State form which indicates your property is not subject to Statewide Rent Control. This should be served on any existing tenants who are occupying a SFR, townhouse, condominium or if your property was built within the last 15 years.  This language must also be included in any lease for new tenancies. These forms can be obtained from the AOA website.

Question Six: I recently leased an apartment to two single females. I have come to find out that they are actually employed as adult entertainers and have been using their apartment to create videos. I really do not want this type of activity in my building. They are on a one-year lease. Is there any way that I can terminate this lease?

Answer Six: Most rental agreements limit the use of the premises for residential purposes only. On that basis, you could issue a Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit demanding that the premises are not to be used for a commercial purpose.  You should also check the terms in the lease agreement. Some agreements state that any misrepresentation on the application would be considered a non-curable breach of the lease agreement. If the tenant indicated that they work in a different capacity that would allow you to terminate the tenancy by serving a 3 Day Notice to Quit.

Question Seven: I am a licensed real estate broker. I recently took over the management of a triplex. Do I have the right to ask the existing tenants for identification, such as a driver’s license?  As a new property manager, I want to establish that the actual occupants are indeed the proper tenants.

Answer Seven: You certainly can ask the tenants for identification, but the tenants have no obligation to provide you with any documentation. If you suspect that “strangers” are in possession, you will have to establish that by other means. Carefully review the rent payments that are being made, to be sure that they are paid by your actual tenants.

Question Eight: My tenant has changed the locks on his unit and is stonewalling about giving me a key. Am I entitled as the property owner to demand a key from the tenant?

Answer Eight: You are certainly are entitled to a key. This is critical in emergency situations. It would also constitute a breach of the rental agreement, as the tenant has altered the premises without your prior written consent. In this situation, a “Notice to Perform or Quit” would be served on your tenant demanding that the key be supplied within three days. If the tenant does not supply a key, an eviction action may be brought.

 

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”.