Legal 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 duplex in the City of Los Angeles. My tenants have not paid rent since April, 2020. Recently, they were both denied rental assistance. Can I bring forth an eviction at this time?

Answer One: The City of Los Angeles ordinance protects tenants that have unpaid rent due to COVID-19 up to 12 months following the end of the Declaration of the Local Emergency, or until August 1, 2023, whichever date comes first. On that basis, you are prevented from bringing forth an eviction based on non-payment of rent. In your situation, unless the city declares that the Local Emergency is over, you would be forced to go 40 months without receiving any revenue for these premises. In addition, the delinquent rent will be deferred for an additional year. The chances of collection on this huge debt are very unlikely. Clearly the city is “stealing” your income.

The ordinance does state that the inability to pay rent must be due to COVID-19. I would doubt that your tenant’s failure to pay rent at this time is due to the pandemic. If you have proof that your tenants are working, a lawsuit may be brought.

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Question Two: My townhouse is located in Westminster. I served my tenant with a 60-day notice to vacate. My tenant informs me that since he has lived there over 10 years, that he is entitled to a 6-month notice. Is this correct?

Answer Two: Your tenant is incorrect. If a tenant has occupied a property over one year, a 60- day notice to vacate is required. Hopefully, you have previously served your tenant a notice that the premises are exempt from Statewide Rent Control. Those forms are available to members for FREE from the AOA’s website at www.aoausa.com. If you have not served that form, you will need to serve it at this time and thereafter, issue a new 60-day notice to quit.

 

Question Three: My property is located in the City of Gardena. It is a single-family residence. I wish to put the property up for sale. The premises are currently occupied by a tenant on a month-to-month tenancy. Can I issue a 60-day notice to vacate since my property is not subject to rent control?

Answer Three: Unfortunately, the County of Los Angeles prevents you from terminating this tenancy at this time. A desire to sell the unit is not a proper ground to terminate. You will need to wait until January, 2023 before a notice to quit can be issued.

 

Question Four: I leased my unit in the City of Alhambra. The lease called for a security deposit to be paid in the sum of $2,400. The tenant told me that he would pay the security deposit after the first month. I agreed, but now he is refusing to pay. He claims that he cannot be evicted for failing to pay a security deposit. Is this correct?

Answer Four: Never allow a tenant to move into your unit without first obtaining all the funds required by the lease agreement. This is always a formula for disaster. Your tenant is absolutely wrong regarding the actions you can take. He certainly can be evicted for failing to pay the security deposit. You should serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If the tenant does not pay the deposit within the 3-day period, an unlawful detainer action can be filed.

 

Question Five: I’m looking to buy a duplex built in 1987 in San Bernardino County. Current tenants have been there longer than four years. They are month-to-month tenants paying only $850, which is below market for the area. Can I vacate these tenants with a 60-day written notice prior to the close of escrow?

Answer Five: Unless you are the owner, you cannot serve a 60-day notice on these tenants. In any event, this property is subject to Statewide Rent Control, AB-1482. You would need good cause to evict. You are permitted a 10% rent increase at this time. You also could terminate the tenancy if you wish to perform major renovation to each of the units. Major renovation is defined as work taking more than 30 days to complete and requiring a building permit.

 

Question Six: I have two detached homes on a lot in Los Angeles County. There is a separate fence and they share a common driveway to enter the premises. Does this fall under the Tenants Protection Act AB 1482? The tenants claim that I cannot increase the rent more than 5%. The property is under my living trust and I believe that it makes it exempt from the Tenant Protection Act.

Answer Six: The fact that your property is in a trust, does not exempt it from AB-1482. Assuming the premises received a Certificate of Occupancy more than 15 years ago, your property is subject to Statewide Rent Control. Currently, you can increase the rent by 10%. A 30-day rent increase notice would need to be served.

 

Question Seven: My 8-unit apartment complex is located in Covina, CA. I have a tenant who has not paid rent since January, 2022. I wish to initiate an eviction at this time. Can I include all the rent owed into the 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit?

Answer Seven: Based on the state law, you should only include all rent owed from April 1, 2022 forward in time. Do not include rent for January through March. Those later months included rent covered by the California Rent Relief Program and it would not be practical to include those months. You will need to file a separate civil lawsuit to obtain a judgment for those months.

 

Question Eight: When can I feel safe in renting my single-family house in the City of Los Angeles knowing that if the tenants do not pay, I am prevented from bringing forth an eviction?

Answer Eight: The truth is, you cannot feel safe at this time. The Los Angeles State of Emergency ordinance is a clear attempt to destroy income property owners to curry favor with tenants. Tenants at this time, do not need protection as most persons are gainfully employed. Even if they did need protection, why should landlords be forced to absorb this financial burden? Employers are desperately attempting to fill job openings. Those persons who are not paying rent are merely “gaming” the system and are allowed to commit “legal theft” based on the City ordinance. It is truly insane that they have extended this ordinance until August 1, 2023.

In your case, I would do an extensive credit check and get the maximum security deposit which is equal to two month’s rent.

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”.