Question One: I received an email from my tenant on a Friday. She believes that there is mold in her unit. I immediately posted a notice on her door that I would be inspecting the premises on Monday at 9 AM. My tenant emailed me back that the premises are not habitable and that she will be staying at a hotel. She further states that she is not giving me permission to enter the unit. Can my tenant deny my entrance?
Answer One: This is the typical behavior that landlords are faced with when tenants are attempting to file a lawsuit for mold. The tenant complains about a mold problem and then refuses the landlord access. Under California law, the landlord has the absolute right to enter the premises, if a notice is served at least 24 hours in advance, stating the date, time and reason the unit will be accessed. You should come with a mold specialist and take air samples. The tenant has no right to deny you access to the premises. You may use your own passkey or have a locksmith present to open the door. I would recommend having a video camera to record the inspection.
Question Two: Can a property be sold with a tenant occupying the premises under a one-year lease? Also, how does this lease affect the buyer of the property?
Answer Two: Regardless of whether a tenant is in possession of the premises, a property can be legally sold. The buyer takes the property subject to the one-year lease agreement. This means that the buyer will have to abide by the terms of the lease.
Question Three: I have a tenant who signed an AOA lease in 2011. I wish to raise the rent by $100. What is the best way to accomplish this?
Answer Three: You may simply serve a “Change of Terms of Tenancy” to increase the rent. You may serve this by personal delivery to the tenant, or mail a copy to the tenant with a proof of mailing. If you are raising the rent in excess of 10%, you must serve a 60-day notice. You also might consider having the tenant sign a new rental agreement. The AOA lease is constantly being updated, and based on the year your lease was drawn, a new lease would be in order.
Question Four: I have a tenant who has been in possession of the unit for three years. We only have a $500 deposit and I am afraid that we will not have sufficient funds to cover cleaning and any damage to the unit. What are my options?
Answer Four: If your property is not subject to rent control, you may serve a “Change of Terms of Tenancy” increasing the security deposit. The deposit cannot exceed twice the current rental amount. If you are under rent control, you would need to check with the particular jurisdiction. In Los Angeles, you may raise the security deposit at the same time you are raising the rent. The maximum increase for the security deposit is the same percentage as the rent increase. In this year, that amount would be 3%.
Question Five: I just purchased a five unit apartment building that is 100% occupied. The building is subject to rent control for the City of Los Angeles. Three of the five units are on a month-to-month basis. I am about to institute 12-month leases for them. Can I require them to have renter’s insurance?
Answer Five: Since you building is under LA rent control, you cannot force the tenants to sign a new lease. You can only enforce the terms of the existing lease. You can circulate a new lease to each tenant which includes renters insurance and ask them to sign. There is no legal obligation, however, for the tenant to execute this lease.
Question Six: We have a mentally unstable tenant. When the tenant moved in, he was perfectly fine. Now we believe that he does not take his medication and is threatening other tenants. He has told other residents that he will kill them or blow up the apartment building. His is on a one-year lease which expires in October, 2016. The management has called police and they do nothing about it! Can we just give him a 30-Day Notice to Move Out?
Answer Six: You have a very serious situation and you should take immediate action. This type of conduct would be considered a “nuisance” under the Civil Code. You are entitled to serve a 3-Day Notice to Quit and then proceed with an eviction. This type of notice should be prepared by an attorney.
Question Seven: I served a 3-Day Notice to Pay the Rent. On the third day, the tenant asked me for an additional week. She claimed she would have all of the money. I waited the week and of course, nothing was paid. Am I obligated to serve a new notice or is the first one still valid?
Answer Seven: The fact that you gave your tenant an additional week to pay, does not invalidate the notice. You may immediately proceed with the unlawful detainer action. My experience suggests that you should never give the tenant extra time. If you serve a 3-day notice to pay rent, you should be prepared to follow through with the eviction lawsuit.
Question Eight: I have been a landlord for 40 years. In this time I have seen the adoption of rent control, followed by enormous governmental regulations, inspections and fees. I have personally witnessed unfounded hostility by tenants towards landlords and an increase in legal actions. This includes requests for jury trials in a simple eviction case. I use to take great pride in my role as a landlord, but I now feel like I am the “bad guy”. Is it time to sell?
Answer Eight: Coincidentally, this is now my 40th year in practice. As a landlord and an attorney who represents landlords, I too have witnessed shocking events that has turned our industry upside down. The changes have largely occurred due to naïve or self-interested politicians. Of course, the media plays a great role in vilifying landlords. Our industry is not the only one affected by these factors. Knowledge is the only way to stay ahead of these developments. The informational resources afforded by the AOA are incredible. Your question to me is, should you sell. I will tell you what I learned as a child playing the game Monopoly. Never sell!
[Editor’s Note: But if you do …, be sure to call AOA Commercial Brokerage!!]
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 Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.