Question One: I have an applicant that has very poor credit. He has offered to pay me one year’s rent in advance, plus a two month security deposit. Am I legally able to accept this amount?
Answer One: This is permissible. If you are leasing the premises for at least six months, you are able to take advance rental payments for the entire term of the lease.
Question Two: I have rental units inCompton. In January, 2014 I increased the rent on one of my tenants. Recently, he complained to the health department and I was forced to make certain repairs. Can I legally raise the rent again, even though it has been less then one year?Answer Two: Since your property is not under rent control, there is no limit on raising the rent. In this case, however, it would be viewed that you are retaliating against your tenant for contacting the health department. If this was the case, you would be prevented from raising rent for six months.
Question Three: What is the landlord’s obligation, as it relates to the refund of a security deposit, when the tenant breaks a one year lease? The tenant served me with a 30-day notice stating that they would be vacating due to a domestic problem. A new tenant was secured to move in, without any loss of rent.
Answer Three: You have 21 days to send a security deposit itemization to your tenant. In general you would be able to deduct for the remaining term of the lease. In this case, since you already obtained a replacement tenant, there can be no deductions for rent.
Question Four: We are replacing the roof at our rental property and our tenants are asking for monetary compensation or that we put them up in a hotel. Roofers are working between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. We gave tenants notice that this was going to occur last year and then, in January, we again gave them a reminder. Prior to the commencement date, we gave them a 7-day notice that the work would commence. We would like to know if we are required by law to compensate our tenants.
Answer Four: If the tenants cannot occupy their units during this time period, you should not charge rent on a prorated basis for the amount of days that the work continued. In most cases, putting on a roof would not require the tenants to vacate and therefore no deduction would be in order. Finally, you should check the terms of your lease agreement to see if there is a provision which covers this situation.
Question Five: I just bought an apartment building inHawthorne. There are existing leases that I obtained from the previous owner. Am I required to have all the tenants sign new rental agreements?
Answer Five: The existing leases are automatically transferred to the new owner of the property. No further documentation is required. It is always wise to attempt to have the tenants sign your own lease. The AOA has an excellent lease. In any event, you should serve each tenant with the Federal Pamphlet on Lead Based Paint and have the tenants give you a written acknowledgment that it was received.
Question Six: Can a tenant be evicted because of sanitation problems? She crams food down the sink, which causes the drains to clog. We just paid to have the sewer line repaired and had to replace a pipe. She uses the kitchen sink like a trash can, as she refuses to take the garbage out. The entire kitchen is covered with grease and dirty dishes are always piled up in the sink. What should I do? My property is under rent control.
Answer Six: The tenant has an obligation to keep the premises in a neat and sanitary condition. If the tenant fails to do so, this would constitute grounds to evict. You should send the tenant a warning letter advising the tenant of the problem and giving the tenant one week to comply. If the tenant fails to comply, a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit could be served. If the tenant fails to comply within the 3-day period, an eviction action should be filed.
Question Seven: I have a tenant who smokes which is bothering other tenants in the building. What are my obligations in this situation.
Answer Seven: A landlord has an obligation to have the tenants reside in a safe and quiet atmosphere where the tenants have quiet enjoyment of the premises. If the tenants are being bothered by this smoker, the landlord has an obligation to attempt to remedy the situation. Every lease should contain a Non-Smoking Provision. In this way, the landlord will be able to enforce this provision, if complaints are received. If your lease does not have this provision, you can serve a Change of Terms of Tenancy, declaring that the building is a smoke-free environment. A warning letter should be sent to this tenant informing him that his smoking habits are disturbing other residents. You might suggest that the tenant only smoke outside or in a room where other tenants would not be affected.
Question Eight: My building rents are far below market and I am suffering under the effects of rent control. One tenant, who pays the least rent, just bought a new BMW. Clearly, this tenant has no need for me to subsidize her rent. I cannot believe they allow these unfair laws to exist. Is there anything that can be done?
Answer Eight: I am happy to report that I will be giving a seminar at the AOA Trade Show on October 15, 2014 at theLos AngelesConvention Center. I will be speaking a 9:00 A.M and my seminar topic will be, “Tips and Tricks on How to Beat Rent Control”. I assure you that each person in attendance will come away with a plan to boost the rental income on their units. Come early, as I have a limited amount of free DVD’s that I will be distributing.
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 or Orange: 714.634.8232 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. Get the NEW App for iPhone or Android phones. Search for “EVICT123”.