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 four-plex in the City of Los Angeles which is under rent control. I am doing upgrades including installing an air conditioner in each unit. The cost for these upgrades will exceed $11,000. Am I able to raise the rent at this time and if so, what is the maximum amount that can be raised?

Answer One: For properties subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles, rent increases are prohibited at this time. Currently, the city has authorized rent increases to be initiated only as of August 1, 2024!

 

Question Two: I have a friend that I allowed to live in a storage shed at the rear of my house. This was only supposed to be a temporary arrangement, but it has now gone on for over one year! I tried to stop him from using a bathroom I have at the side of the house by locking the door. My friend then called the police who forced me to unlock the door. I have heart issues and this situation is really stressing me. I have never collected any rent from this person. I know there is an eviction moratorium, but is there anything I can do?

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Answer Two: You certainly can commence an eviction at this time. Since your friend never paid rent, he does not qualify for protection under the eviction moratorium. This relationship is deemed to be a “tenancy at will”. A 30-day notice to quit should be served and thereafter an unlawful detainer may be brought.

 

Question Three: I own two single-family residences. One is in Los Angeles County and the other one is in Ventura County. I have decided to pack up and leave California and move to Idaho. Both houses are leased on a month-to-month tenancy. I wish to put them on the market for sale. Can I issue a 60-Day Notice to Quit to each tenant?

Answer Three: Unfortunately, the County of Los Angeles has a prohibition against “no fault” evictions until January 2023. On that basis, you cannot ask the tenant to vacate. In Ventura, you would be free to issue a 60-Day Notice to Quit.

 

Question Four: I have a tenant in the City of Los Angeles that is refusing to pay rent. He claims that he cannot be evicted due to the moratorium. This person is driving a new car and I know he is fully employed by the Post Office. Is there anything I can do at this time? I have not received rent in over a year!

Answer Four: Under the City of Los Angeles moratorium, an eviction action for non-payment of rent cannot be brought if the tenant has inability to pay rent due to COVID-19. In this case, the failure to pay rent is not related to the pandemic. On that basis you could proceed with an eviction.

 

Question Five: My tenant caused a fire in his unit which has rendered it uninhabitable. He allowed a candle to fall which caused the fire. The cost of the repairs will be thousands of dollars. Thankfully, the insurance company will be paying for the restoration. My tenant is claiming that he is entitled to compensation for his temporary relocation and that he will be moving back once the repairs are completed. He quoted some state law which requires me to do this. Please advise if I am obliged to compensate my tenant or if I am required to allow him to reoccupy the apartment.

Answer Five: Since your tenant caused the fire, there is no obligation to pay relocation or to allow him to occupy the unit. You should send him a notice that the tenancy is immediately terminated. In addition, you should account for any security deposit that he has paid.

 

Question Six: I bought a duplex in the City of Los Angeles. It was built in 1986 so it is not under rent control for the City of Los Angeles. My loan requires that I occupy one of the units. Both tenants are refusing to move. What steps must I take to recover possession of the premises?

Answer Six: Unfortunately, you cannot force an eviction at this time in the City of Los Angeles. The City has instituted a prohibition against all “no fault” evictions. This moratorium is currently extended to August 1, 2023. The issue regarding your loan has no bearing on this law. I would suggest offering one of the tenants a “cash for keys” arrangement.

 

Question Seven: My tenant leased an apartment without a parking space. The building does not have enough parking to accommodate every unit. She now has a car and claims that due to her disability she is entitled to a space. She is threatening to sue me, even though there are no spaces available.

Answer Seven: Under the Disability Act, a landlord is required to offer a reasonable accommodation to a tenant who has a disability. Of course, you cannot create a parking space where one does not exist. You might inquire as to the other tenants if they are willing to give up their space. If no one offers their parking space, then this would not be a violation of the Disability Act. Your tenant is not requesting a reasonable accommodation.

 

Question Eight: My tenant has a junk automobile parked at a house I rent in the City of Los Angeles. It truly is an eyesore and I have received complaints from my neighbors. I have asked him to remove it, but he refuses. He states that if he is paying his rent, he cannot be forced to remove the car or be evicted. Is there anything I can do?

Answer Eight: Your tenant is clearly wrong. Inoperable vehicles parked on private property is a violation of a City Ordinance.  You should serve him with a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. The tenant should be told to either remove the vehicle or make it operable within the three-day period. If the tenant does not comply, an unlawful detainer action may be filed.

 

Special Note: At the time of the writing of this column, it appears that the City of Los Angeles will probably be ending the moratorium as of January 1, 2023. Stay tuned for further details.

 

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”.