Dennis BlockBelow are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California rent control laws followed by answers provided by eviction attorney, Dennis Block.

Question One: I am in the middle of an eviction and I got word that a plumbing repair is required which affects two units. I need access to the unit which is under eviction. How should I handle this and do you 

think it will have any effect on my unlawful detainer?

Answer One: If a repair is required, you would need to serve a Notice to Access the Dwelling, giving your tenant at least 24 hours advance notice. Repairs should only be conducted during normal business hours. 

If the tenant is not present at the appointed time, you have the right to enter the unit to make the repair. If you are not in possession of a key, you may use the services of a locksmith to open the door.

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Question Two: My property is located in San Bernardino. I understand that I can be reimbursed for my delinquent rent by applying to the California Rental Assistance Payment Program. For many reasons, 

I really do not want to do this.  I would prefer to serve a 3-day notice for the rent and proceed with an eviction. Is it possible to just file an eviction at this time?

Answer Two: An eviction for non-payment of rent can be commenced at this time. The law does require that you must first apply for rent relief under this California State program. Twenty days thereafter, assuming your application is not approved, you may proceed with the filing of the unlawful detainer action. On this basis, all residential landlords that are owed rent should apply. The website to apply is: housingiskey.com.

Question Three: I own a 4-plex in Redondo Beach. I want to find out if my property is subject to rent control and, if so, what are general rules that I must follow.

Answer Three: Assuming your building was built over 15 years ago, you would be subject to Statewide Rent Control. For tenants in possession longer than one year, good cause is required in order to terminate the tenancy.

For that reason, I would lease property on an agreement that is less than one year. This will allow you to terminate the tenancy once the lease expires. For units subject to this rent control, there are limitations in increasing the rent. For this year, an 8.6% rent increase is permitted.

 

Question Four: I have a tenant paying very low rent in Santa Monica. This tenant rarely uses the apartment and sleeps there maybe twice a month. He refuses to give up the unit and states that he is protected under 

the Santa Monica Rent Control Ordinance. Truly this is not fair as he is not even using this unit. Is there anything I can do in this situation?

Answer Four: If a tenant is not using the unit as a primary residence, you may file a petition with the Santa Monica rent control board. Under the regulations, a tenant may not seek rent control protection unless the unit is being used as a primary residence. This is designed to stop tenants from using their apartment solely as a vacation or storage unit.

 

Question Five: I own a single-family residence in the City of Los Angeles. I have decided to list my property for sale. I have a tenant in possession that is now on a month-to- month rental agreement. I have served him with a 60-day notice to vacate but he is refusing to move. I have even offered him relocation in the sum of $5,000 to assist with his move but he still refuses to budge. Can I initiate an eviction at this time?

Answer Five: Under the State of Emergency as issued by the Mayor of Los Angeles, all “no-fault” evictions are prohibited. On this basis, you cannot ask the tenant to vacate until the mayor declares that the State of Emergency is over. Many homeowners are facing the same situation. They cannot either sell their 

residence or even be allowed to move into their own home.

 

Question Six: I have an applicant with shaky credit. He has offered to have his mother sign as a guarantor. Do you think this is a wise idea?

Answer Six: In general, I recommend only leasing to persons with good credit. If your tenant fails to pay the rent, you would need to initiate an eviction action. The eviction action cannot be brought against the guarantor. That would require you to file a second lawsuit for civil damages. If the guarantor is not local, it would make it that much more difficult to collect on the rent that is owed.

 

Question Seven: I recently bought a property at a foreclosure sale. The property is occupied by the former owner’s son, who refuses to move. This person is claiming COVID protection and told me that he cannot be evicted. Do you have any suggestions? My intention was to move into this house.

Answer Seven: It would appear that the whole world is claiming COVID protection. In your situation, the son is absolutely incorrect. No COVID protection is afforded, as the occupant is not a tenant. In this instance, a 

3 Day Notice to Quit would be served. Thereafter, an eviction action could be filed to remove this person from the premises.

 

Question Eight: My property is located in the City of Los Angeles. About a year ago I felt sorry for an old high school buddy who was down on his luck and had nowhere to sleep. I allowed him to live in my garage which does have a bathroom. He never paid me any rent. I finally have asked him to move and he is refusing.I then received a letter from an attorney who is demanding $25,000 for allowing my friend to occupy an area 

that is not permitted to be used as a residence. I am truly shocked. Mr. Block, how do I get rid of this guy?

Answer Eight: As the saying goes, “No good deed goes unpunished.” Your buddy is not entitled to any compensation, as he is not considered a tenant. In order to be tenant, rent would need to be charged. This relationship would be considered a “tenancy at will”. A 30-day notice to vacate would be required to be served.

 

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”.

Read more Legal Q & A from the January 2022 edition of the AOA Magazine

Read more articles from the January 2022 edition of the AOA Magazine