Question One: I served my tenant with a 60 day notice to vacate which will expire on October 16, 2014. The tenant has sent me the full rent for October and states that he will not be vacating. What are my options?Answer One: If you accept the full rent for the month of October, you would be waiving your right to proceed on your 60-day notice. Promptly return the check to your tenant. It is permissible to accept one half of the rent, since your notice expires on October 16, 2014. Advise your tenant that you will be commencing an eviction, if they fail to timely vacate.
Question Two: I have a candidate who has no social security number. She has lived here for 16 years. She is a recipient of survivor benefits from a deceased U.S. citizen and spouse. I wonder why she doesn’t have to file income tax, for which a social security number would be required. She claims she does not as she is a citizen of Israel. She also has part time employment as a teacher. I am distrustful of her statements. I believe I can refuse to rent to someone who does not have a Social Security number and for whom I cannot do a credit check. Is this correct?
Answer Two: You are correct. This applicant can be denied because she failed to provide information that would allow you to determine her credit and therefore she has not met your credit qualifications.
Question Three: I have a lease that expires at the end of this month. Am I required to sign a new lease with this tenant?
Answer Three: You are not required to sign a new lease. Under the Civil Code, the lease automatically renews on a month to month basis, on the same terms and conditions. By accepting the rent, after the expiration of the lease, a month to month tenancy is created. If you would prefer the tenant to be on a fixed term lease, you would need to prepare a new lease and have it signed prior to accepting the rent.
Question Four: I have a rent controlled tenant that has not caused any issues and has always paid her rent on time. Recently, I noticed she has a cat. The original lease doesn’t allow pets, but I do allow small pets at a higher deposit. Can I charge the tenant the higher deposit, now that I discovered the animal?
Answer Four: Since the tenancy has already been initiated, you would not be able to charge a higher security unless the tenant is willing to sign a new lease. If the tenant refuses to sign a new lease with an increased security deposit, you could bring forth an eviction action for the unauthorized cat.
Question Five: I am renting my unit for $2,100 per month. I would like to collect $3,000 as a security deposit. Is there any restriction on how much my deposit should be? My prospective tenant states that it cannot be more than the rent. Please let me know.
Answer Five: Your prospective tenant is wrong. You can legally collect two times the amount of rent if the unit is unfurnished, and three times the amount of rent if the unit is furnished.
Question Six: I have a rent controlled building. One of the tenants occupied the premises, prior to my ownership, and no rental agreement exists. This is a one bedroom unit and at least six persons are living in this apartment. Is there anything I can do to ease this overcrowding situation? This is truly a safety issue.
Answer Six: Under the Administrative Code for the County of Los Angeles, “Every room or place used for sleeping purposes shall be deemed to be overcrowded if it is occupied by more than two persons and contains less than 630 cubic feet of air space plus 500 cubic feet of air space for every person occupying the room in excess of two persons.”
When computing cubic feet you multiply the dimensions of the room and then multiply that figure by the height of the room. You do not factor in hallways, bathrooms, kitchens or closets. If this qualifies as overcrowding, you would have the right to ask the tenants to correct the situation or face eviction.
Question Seven: Can a landlord force a tenant to maintain rental insurance?
Answer Seven: You certainly can have this as a provision of your rental agreement. Proof of insurance should be required prior to move-in and your lease should require the tenant to provide proof of insurance on a yearly basis. If this is an existing tenant, you may serve a Change of Terms of Tenancy.
Question Eight: I am in the process of short selling my house in Los Angeles. I got laid off in 2011 and wanted to keep my home so I started renting out my converted garage. I later found out that the garage is an illegal conversion. When I finally could no longer continue to pay my mortgage, I told my tenant that I was losing my home and gave him a 30 day notice. In anticipation of the short sale, my son and I moved out of the house. My tenant became very angry and refuses to move or pay rent.
He contacted the Los Angeles Housing Dept. and they have ordered me to pay him relocation money in the sum of $19,300. I do not have anything close to that kind of money. The City is also fining me for the illegal conversion and demanding I pay the relocation and reconvert the premises. I cannot afford to do either. I am a struggling single mother, trying to get back on my feet. My current job basically covers our basic needs and I am working hard to make life a little more comfortable for my son. This drama has been going on for over a year and it is very stressful. I know I made a mistake renting out the conversion and want to resolve it, but this tenant has turned out to be completely uncooperative and refuses to accept any settlement. I am not sure what to do. Please help.
Answer Eight: My heart goes out to your situation, but there is little that can be done. The evil legislation, that the City of Los Angeles has enacted, is designed merely to steal funds from property owners. Obviously, a city must enforce building codes, for the safety of its citizens. If an illegal unit exists, the city should require the owner to discontinue the use of that unit. However, to impose harsh fines in the form of outrageous relocation benefits to tenants is merely an attempt by the City of Los Angeles to pander to tenant rights groups. In many cases, such as in this instance, the effect is for the owner to lose the property. Maybe the City should concentrate on fixing potholes, as that is a real job that needs to be done.
Seminar Reminder: Do not miss the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show on October 15, 2014. I will be speaking at 9:00 AM. “Tips and Tricks on How to Beat LA Rent Control”.
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”.