Q&A

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 rent-controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. My tenant recently passed away. His adult son, who was not on lease, was occupying the apartment with his father. He is now refusing to move. The rent on the apartment is way below market value. Can we evict this person? At the present time he is offering to pay rent. Should we accept rent if our goal is to evict him after the moratorium ends?

Answer One: Do not accept rent from the son. If you accept rent, you will be establishing a tenancy with him, and he will be a protected tenant. At this point, the son is considered an unauthorized subtenant. As such, you can issue a 3 Day Notice to Quit, demanding that the son vacate. If he refuses, an unlawful detainer action can be filed.

Question Two: I have an apartment building in the City of Lynwood. My building is subject to Statewide Rent Control. 50% of the building has not paid rent in over one year. The tenants and I have applied for rental assistance, and I have been paid on most of the units under the California Rent Relief Program. I understand there is no rental assistance commencing April 1, 2022. Am I able to issue a 3-day notice to pay rent for rent currently owed and then proceed with an eviction?

Answer Two: Except for the City of Beverly Hills and Los Angeles, your property is subject to eviction protection under the Los Angeles County ordinance. Under this ordinance, the tenant must “Self-certify” within 7 days of the rental due date each month. “Self-Certify” requires that the tenant, in any format, communicate to the landlord that there is an inability to pay rent due to the pandemic. If the tenant does not communicate, the landlord is free to issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. This is only for rent owed from April 2022 forward in time. My experience suggests that most tenants do not “Self-Certify” and therefore a 3-Day notice can be issued at this time.

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Question Three: If a tenant pays rent at this time, can I apply it to the month when rent first became due? For example, if a tenant makes a payment in May 2022 can I apply it to the rent which first became due in December 2021? In this way I will be able to issue a 3-Day Notice to Pay rent for May and proceed forward with an eviction.

Answer Three: Under California law, you must apply the payment for the month in which it was received. The only exception would be if the tenant indicates in writing that it is being applied to a different month.

Question Four: We have a Section 8 tenant in the City of Gardena. His first-year lease terminates on September 1, 2022.  Can we give him notice to vacate at the expiration of his lease before it goes month-to-month?  We appreciate your advocacy of property owner’s rights.

Answer Four: Your property is subject to the eviction protection under the Los Angeles County ordinance. Currently there is a prohibition against “no fault” evictions. This will remain in effect until January 1, 2023. In addition, you cannot terminate a Section 8 tenancy without good cause. Good cause can be for economic reasons but at this time the County is prohibiting evictions on a “no fault” basis.

Question Five: My property is located in Colton, California. It is subject to Statewide Rent Control. At this time am I able to terminate the tenancy on the basis that I wish to remodel the unit? The rent is terribly under market value. I know I could double the rent if I fixed up the unit.

Answer Five: Good cause to terminate a tenancy does exist in your jurisdiction if you wish to remodel the unit. The work must be considered substantial renovation. This requires that the work take at least 30 days to complete and requires obtaining a building permit such as an electrical or plumbing permit. The law also requires that relocation be paid to the tenant. Relocation is equal to  one month’s rent.

Question Six: Can we start an eviction for a tenant  who is constantly threatening neighbors, screaming and knocking on other residents’ doors? Neighbors are afraid of this tenant, and they have already called the police on her. My zip code 90020.

Answer Six: Regardless of the location of the premises, you have the right to initiate an eviction based on nuisance. Cleary, this tenant has created an intolerable situation for your other residents. It should be noted that in a small percentage of cases, it will be necessary to have other residents testify against this tenant if the matter proceeds to trial.

Question Seven: I am thinking about purchasing a duplex in Los Angeles so that I can live in one unit and my parents can live in the other. Unfortunately, there is a tenant in possession  who will remain if I become the owner. Is it possible to have that tenant removed so that my parents can live in the second unit? Do you know how much one would have to pay the tenant for relocation costs? Thank you.

Answer Seven: The City of Los Angeles has imposed so many adverse regulations on property  owners that you might consider acquiring property in another city. There literally is a war being waged against people owning real estate. In the City of Los Angeles, you cannot require a tenant to move on the basis that you want a close family member to occupy the premises. A prohibition against these types of evictions has been extended through April 2023. This, of course, could be extended. Under the City rent control ordinance, if the tenant is over 62 years of age and has lived in the unit 10 years or longer, there is a total ban on this type of eviction. Assuming the moratorium is  over and your tenant could be requested to vacate, relocation would be about $10,000 to $25,000 depending on the age of the tenant, whether there are minors in possession or if a tenant is handicapped.

Question Eight: I have a tenant who just leased my unit. I made it very clear that pets were prohibited. On the application, she stated that she did not own any pets. As she was moving in, I saw that she was bringing in a big dog. When I questioned her lying on her application and that she was in breach of her lease agreement, she produced an Emotional Support Animal Certificate. She claimed that the dog is not a  pet but a required treatment for her disability and that she was protected by law. Clearly this person is gaming the system. Is there anything that can be done?

Answer Eight: The claim of Emotional Support Animals (ESA) has been the largest abuse on income property owners. Any tenant can pay for a certificate, which thereby allows multiple animals to occupy your property. This is true regardless of a “no pet” policy which may exist in your building. Thankfully, there have been some recent changes in the California law. On January 1, 2022, Assembly Bill 468, went into effect. This law changed the process and the proof  required upon which a tenant can claim the need for an ESA. The major change in requirements of the new California ESA law affects licensed mental health professionals (LMHP) who write ESA letters. An official ESA letter is required to prove to a landlord, or anyone else, that there is a legitimate need for an emotional support animal. The following are now additional requirements that must be met:

  • The health professional must hold a legitimate and active license. In the ESA letter, they must include their license number, the effective date, their jurisdiction, and the type of professional license.
  • The health professional must be licensed to provide professional services within the scope of the license in the jurisdiction in which the documentation is provided.
  • The health professional must establish a professional relationship with the client at least 30 days before providing the ESA letter.
  • The health professional must conduct a clinical evaluation of the client to assess their need for an emotional support pet.
  • The health professional must provide a verbal or written notice to the  individual stating that an emotional support animal does not qualify as a service animal, and that misrepresenting the support animal as a service animal is against the law.

Based on this new law you can prevent tenants from using phony documentation to allow pets to occupy the property. Remember that the professional relationship with your tenant must have been established at least 30-days prior to issuing the ESA letter. For further information please call our office.

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”.