Dennis Block
Dennis Block

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

Question One:  It has been over one year since I have received rent from my tenant. I have applied for rent relief, but to date I have not received any funds. My tenant shows no interest in ever paying rent. I am certain that he is not affected by COVID-19 as he goes to work every day. I literally feel abandoned, as I do not have any legal rights. Mr. Block, is there anything that can be done at this time?

Answer One: I am pleased to inform you that at this time, there are no restrictions to filing an eviction action based on non-payment of rent. Commencing April 1, 2022, a standard 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit can be served. If your tenant fails to pay within the 3-day period, an eviction action can be filed. The requirement to apply for rent relief does not extend past March 31, 2022. Unfortunately, there are some exceptions.

The City of Los Angeles continues to prohibit evictions for non-payment of rent if the inability to pay is related to COVID-19. For most other cities in the County of Los Angeles, there is a prohibition for filing through December 31, 2022, under certain conditions. The County of Los Angeles requires the tenant to “self-certify” within 7 days of each due date of the tenant’s inability to pay rent due to COVID-19. To “Self-Certify” it would require some communication to indicate the reason for the non-payment of rent. I would imagine that very few tenants will have any communication with their landlord and on that basis the landlord is free to commence an eviction. No other prohibitions exist in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, and Ventura Counties.

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Question Two: My tenant is pretending she is out of town so that I cannot personally serve her with a notice to enter the dwelling. I need to make a plumbing repair which requires that I access her unit. She has sent me a text that she will not be back in town for at least 2 months. Any suggestions?

Answer Two: A tenant does not have to be personally served with a notice to access the dwelling. Placing the notice on the door is sufficient to serve the notice. In addition, a tenant does not have to be present when you enter the unit. If you have properly prepared and served the notice, you may enter the unit at the appointed date and time. It is permissible to use your passkey, or you may engage the services of a locksmith to gain entrance to the unit.

Question Three: My property is in the City of Los Angeles. I recently discovered that a tenant intentionally scratched another tenant’s vehicle with a screwdriver. This was captured by a surveillance camera. I know that evictions are not permitted in the city, but is there any other action I can take at this time?

Answer Three:  While evictions cannot generally be brought for non-payment of rent, this does not prevent the landlord from evicting for other violations of the rental agreement or for nuisance behavior. In this case your tenant has committed a nuisance and an eviction should be immediately commenced. A 3-day notice to quit should be served and if the tenant fails to vacate, an unlawful detainer may be filed.

Question Four: I am evicting a person who continues to occupy the unit, even though the main tenant vacated. I have never taken rent from this person, and I have no rental agreement with her.  She has contested the proceedings and her “free” attorney has asked for a jury trial. How is it possible that a squatter can ask for a jury trial? This is an open and shut case.

Answer Four: Unfortunately, in the State of California every litigant is entitled to request a jury trial. The court has no discretion in this matter. This would be true even if you had a rental agreement where the parties waive their right to a jury trial. Almost all of the legal aid attorneys have been directed to request a jury trial in every eviction action.

Question Five: I have a tenant who is a hoarder. You cannot even walk into the unit as the stench is unbearable. Trash and debris are stacked throughout the unit. You cannot literally walk into some of the rooms. The tenant is actually very nice and pays rent on time but refuses to take care of his unit. Any suggestions?

Answer Five: A hoarder can create many problems for a building. It constitutes a fire hazard and will create a pest problem that will spread to other units. Most rental agreements require the tenant to keep the premises in a neat and sanitary condition. In this case, a notice to perform or quit would be required to be served which would give the tenant 3 days to clean the unit and to remove the excess clutter. If the problem is not resolved within the 3 days an eviction can be filed.

Question Six: I rented out a converted garage in the City of Los Angeles. The garage has every amenity but was done without permit. I have now received an “Order to Comply” from Building and Safety. I am being ordered to discontinue use as a residence. The tenant is refusing to move and now has stopped paying rent. I have only 30 days to comply with the order. What should I do?

Answer Six: There is nothing that can be done at this time. Under the City regulations, a tenant has no obligation to pay rent if the unit is illegal. In addition, you would need to go through an application process with the City of Los Angeles in order to get approval to have the tenant vacate. Relocation would be required to be paid to the tenant. Relocation would be in the range of $10,000 to $24,000. At this time the city is not accepting applications due to the eviction moratorium. You will need to wait until March 2023 before the process can commence. You will need to inform Building and Safety that you cannot comply at this time due to the eviction moratorium.

Question Seven: I have applied for rent relief at the website housingiskey.com. I received rent through December 31, 2021. The tenant has not paid any rent for this year. My property is in Glendora. When will I be able to collect rent?

Answer Seven: The California Rent Relief Program pays up to a maximum 18 months of rent. Since you have already been paid it is the responsibility of your tenant to apply for this additional period through March 31, 2022. For April 2022 a standard 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit may be served and thereafter an unlawful detainer action may be filed.

Question Eight:  My building is in an unincorporated area of the County of Los Angeles. I am subject to the County rent control ordinance. Am I permitted to raise rents at this time, and if so, what is the percentage of the rent increase?

Answer Eight: The County of Los Angeles has prohibited any rent increase on rent control property at this time. You will need to wait until the year 2023. It should be noted that the City of Los Angeles is not permitting rent increases on rent control property until March 2024!

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”.

 

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