Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California rent control laws followed by answers provided by eviction attorney, Dennis Block.
Question One: I have a 4-unit building in the City of Hawthorne. I recently formed a limited liability company (LLC) and transferred the building to this entity. Regarding the existing tenants, should I have them sign a new lease or should I merely do an amendment to their lease?
Answer One: In many cases, the tenants will refuse to sign a new lease or an amendment to their lease. Pursuant to Civil Code Section 1962, the landlord is required to inform the tenants in writing as to the name of the current owner of the premises.
You must supply the tenant with the owner’s phone number and a physical address in which personal service can be accomplished. In addition, you must inform the tenant of the usual days and hours when the person is available and what form of payment is acceptable to pay the rent. This should be in the form of a notice which is served on your tenants.
Question Two: I bought a single-family residence in the City of Paramount with tenants in possession. I was hoping they would leave with a 60-day notice, but they have ignored my notice. Am I permitted to file an unlawful detainer at this time? I bought the home with a VA loan and I intend to occupy the property with my wife and children.
Answer Two: You certainly are permitted to occupy your own residence. In your 60-day notice it must state the reason why you are terminating the tenancy. In addition, it is required that the tenant be informed that this property is not subject to Statewide Rent Control (AB1482), as this is a single-family residence.
Question Three: We have a commercial tenant in the City of Los Angeles. Currently, he has not paid rent in over one year. His lease is expiring next month. Can we provide him with a 30-day notice to quit, or will he remain on a month-to-month basis until Mayor Garcetti lifts the State of Emergency order?
Answer Three: Unfortunately, the lease will continue as a month-to-month tenancy. The State of Emergency has now been extended until February 2023. Once it is lifted, you will be able to serve a 30-day notice to quit. Under the current rules, there is no rent relief afforded by the State of California to commercial landlords. Your mayor is expecting you to survive without receiving rent for over two years.
Question Four: My tenant in Burbank paid her rent as usual, but not the increase. She gave no explanation and is not responding to texts. Should the 3 Day Notice be for the entire amount, even though she made a paid partial payment?
Answer Four: Your 3-day notice to pay rent or quit should be for the exact amount of rent owed. To proceed with of an unlawful detainer, you will need to apply for rent relief under the State program, which can be found online at: housingiskey.com
As a practical matter, I would not recommend that you take this action. The filing of an action over the rent increase, will cause you to lose much more rent. I suggest that you send her a letter indicating that she is in arrears and that when the eviction moratorium is over, you will be addressing this outstanding balance in the form of an eviction lawsuit.
Question Five: I agreed to let a friend stay at my home. No rent was charged. Shortly after she moved in, the pandemic occurred. I have been very patient, but now she is refusing to leave. I am told that since she has been there more than 30 days, that I must proceed with an eviction. Can I currently do this, and if so, how much notice do I have to give?
Answer Five: Under the law, this is considered a Tenancy at Will. At this time, you have the right to evict her. A unique 30-day notice to quit is required. If the occupant ignores the notice, an unlawful detainer could be filed. Since this person does not pay rent, no protection is afforded under the eviction moratorium.
Question Six: Is the State of Emergency over in the City of Los Angeles? I have many tenants that have not paid the rent and would like to institute an eviction action. Is this permissible in the City of Los Angeles?
Answer Six: The City of Los Angeles prohibits any eviction for non-payment of rent if the inability of your tenant to pay rent is due to COVID-19. This will continue until February 2023. Your only option is to seek compensation by applying to the California Rent Relief Program. You can apply online at: housingiskey.com.
Question Seven: I have a tenant who has been with me for over three years. She has now requested that I sign up with the Section 8 program. I really do not want to get involved with this situation as I heard that it is a nightmare to deal with their paperwork and the inspections which are required. Since she is an existing tenant can I just say no?
Answer Seven: Under California law you cannot summarily reject a request of a tenant to go on the Section 8 program. If the program is willing to pay the current rent, you would have to accept this program. This is also true for new applicants. It is possible, however, to reject new applicants based on poor credit.
Question Eight: I have many tenants who could pay the rent but refuse as they believe that there are no consequences to their failure to pay. My property is in the City of Los Angeles. Most of them have not paid rent in two years and have no plans of paying in the future. How is the eviction moratorium fair? How is it legal?
Answer Eight: In my opinion it is not fair nor is it legal. Lawsuits have already been filed against the City of Los Angeles. Many of my clients are experiencing situations where the tenants have refused to participate in the California Rent Relief Program. Under the City law, a tenant can legally avoid paying rent for over 35 months. During this time, landlords are forced to pay for water and sewage, property taxes, mortgage payments and are required to maintain the premises. Does anyone really believe that tenants currently have an inability to pay due to the pandemic? Employers are desperately trying to fill jobs with little success. Truly, insanity is running the City of Los Angeles.
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”.