Question One: I let a friend move into my house and she has stayed there for almost three months. Things are not going so well and I asked her to move. Unfortunately, she has refused to vacate. I called the police and they stated they could not help me. I am so confused. How can this person, who never paid rent, be allowed to continue to reside in my residence?
Answer One: You have the absolute right to force this woman to leave, but you must go through the legal procedure. Her status is considered a “Tenant at Will”. It requires that she be served a 30-Day Notice to Vacate. If she fails to vacate after the 30 days, you would need to bring forth an unlawful detainer action. Anytime a person stays in your unit 30 days or longer, an eviction is required.
Question Two: I recently bought a duplex in the City of Los Angeles. The duplex is occupied by long term residents. I am intending to have my children occupy both units. I understand that I have to pay relocation money to each of the tenants. I applied to the City and they are telling me that I cannot have these persons vacate, regardless if I pay relocation. I am at a complete loss. The only reason I bought this duplex was for my family. Please explain if I have any options.
Answer Two: The Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles was amended a couple of years ago. While you have the right to evict a tenant for a family member, there is an exception. If the resident is over 62 years of age or disabled and has lived in the unit for at least 10 years, this tenant cannot be forced out. This is a terrible amendment to the ordinance, which totally destroys the property rights of an owner.
You have two other options you might consider. You always can offer the tenant to voluntarily vacate the premises, for an agreed relocation amount. You probably would have to offer more than the City established guidelines. Currently that amount is $19,500. Your other option would be to permanently take the units off of rental housing use. This is pursuant to the Ellis Act. Unfortunately, if you choose this option, you or future owners could not lease these units.
Question Three: I have a tenant who signed a one year lease. They have now given me notice that they are moving at the end of this month. A tenant in the building next door was robbed at gun point and they feel that the neighborhood is too dangerous. Are they allowed to break their lease?
Answer Three: An owner cannot control criminal behavior. Crimes can and do happen in exclusive areas, such as Beverly Hills. Your tenant has no right to break their lease agreement. Inform the tenant that you will be holding them responsible for the rent for the entire lease term, or until such time as the premises are leased.
Question Four: I have served a tenant with a 3-Day Notice to pay the rent. The tenant paid a partial payment, which I accepted. Am I allowed to immediately initiate the eviction action since the tenant did not fully comply with the notice?
Answer Four: If you accept a partial payment, you must serve a new 3-Day Notice to Pay rent or quit which will reflect the current amount of rent that is now due. You cannot proceed on your original 3-Day notice.
Question Five: I have a rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles with an elderly tenant who recently died. His son had been staying with him for the last several years. I have asked him when he will be vacating but he has informed me that he is taking over his father’s apartment. He claims he is protected under the rent control ordinance and can pay the same rent his father was paying. Is this true?
Answer Five: This person is clearly wrong. You can ask him to immediately vacate or you can require him to pay market rent for the unit. This person is not your tenant and this tenancy ended upon the death of your original tenant.
Question Six: I have a tenant that complains about everything. She is now requesting that I replace light bulbs for fixtures located in her unit. Am I required to replace light bulbs?
Answer Six: The replacement of light bulbs is considered normal maintenance which would be your tenant’s responsibility.
Question Seven: I leased my house to a couple. In the lease agreement they are responsible for all of the utilities. It has been about 60 days and I have just discovered that they never switched the utilities into their own names. How should I handle this?
Answer Seven: I would send your tenant a letter stating the utilities will be shut off in seven days and request that they apply to have them turned on in their own names. I would then present them with an invoice to reimburse you for the cost of the utilities. If they fail to pay, you should serve them with a Notice to Perform or Quit, demanding they pay the outstanding amount. If they fail to pay within the three- day period, you should commence an eviction action.
Question Eight: I have a rent controlled tenant in Los Angeles and I need him to vacate the unit so that my son can move in. He lives by himself and claims that he is entitled to additional relocation fees as he is disabled. I see him being very active and cannot believe that he is disabled. How can I prove he truly has a disability?
Answer Eight: Good News! You do not have to prove he has a disability. Under a recent California case he must be considered the head of the household to take advantage of the disability status. The court interpreted that a single tenant cannot be the head of the household and therefore additional relocation fees would not have to be paid.
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″. Landlord/Tenant Radio is back on the air! Tune in every Monday at 1:00 p.m. on KTYM 1460 on your am dial and call in with your questions.