Question One: I own a fourplex. One of my male tenants, who has been in the building over five years, is complaining about a new female tenant. In an email to me, he states that her voice is too loud and that her dog is barking too much. He even told her to “Shut up” when she was having normal conversation in the parking lot area. My new tenant states that she feels threatened by this tenant. What are my options?
Answer One: You should immediately send a letter to your tenant. In this letter you should inform your male tenant that any further actions towards the new tenant will result in eviction. Tell him that any complaints he might have, must be addressed to management only.
Question Two: I lease a house and only one person is on the lease. This person seems to be out of town for a few months already. My husband saw some strangers coming out of the house. In addition, an unfamiliar car has been parked in the driveway. What should we do to stop this?
Answer Two: Since your tenant has not been seen in several months, it would appear that your tenant has subleased the premises. You should serve your tenant a Notice to Perform or Quit. This form should advise the tenant that he must remove the “strangers” within three days. If he fails to do so, you may initiate an action for eviction. If you cannot hand the notice to your tenant, you should post one on the front door and mail a copy to him at the premises.
Question Three: I had a tenant who vacated the property. The condition of the apartment was deplorable. It has cost me over $5,000 to return the unit back to a condition where it can be rented. Do you recommend suing in small claims court?
Answer Three: Small claims court is an excellent venue to address this issue. You may sue up to $10,000. It would not be cost efficient to hire an attorney for this size of a claim. In small claims court, you have the right to have your case heard by a judge, instead of a commissioner or “judge pro tem”. You should insist on a judge, which is within your rights.
Question Four: What compensation should be given to a tenant if they must vacate a unit so that repairs can be made? For example, a landlord has to tent the building to fumigate and the tenants are required to be out for two days. Is the landlord responsible for lodging, food, and even pet lodging?
Answer Four: The general law is that the tenant is merely excused from paying rent for that period which the premises cannot be occupied. This situation, however, should be contained as a provision in your lease agreement. This will eliminate compensation requests from your tenant.
Question Five: I just took over a rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles. Many of the units do not have a security deposit and other units have security deposits which are very low. Is it allowable to collect a security deposit for these existing tenants?
Answer Five: Under Rent Stabilization for the City of Los Angeles, you cannot require an existing tenant to pay a security deposit, if no security deposit is being held. For those tenants where a security deposit has been taken, you are allowed to increase the security deposit the same percentage as the rent increase. This year, the allowable rent increase is 3%. You are allowed to increase the security deposit by this same amount. The increase must be done at the same time that you are serving the rent increase notice.
Question Six: I do the cleaning of my units, after the tenants vacate. I do not use a cleaning service. Am I allowed to deduct for my labor?
Answer Six: You are allowed to deduct for your labor on a reasonable hourly charge. Based on the attitude of some of our politicians, that should be at least $75 an hour.
Question Seven: I allow my tenants to deposit the rent directly into my account. I served a 3-day notice on one tenant when payment was not received. I then filed an eviction action. The tenant has now deposited a small amount into my bank account and he claims since I have accepted rent, I must dismiss the lawsuit. Is he correct?
Answer Seven: Your tenant is wrong. You should mail your personal check back to this tenant. You should include a note explaining that the deposit was unauthorized. Your tenant’s actions will not be considered a waiver of the lawsuit.
Question Eight: Mr. Block, I really like reading your Question and Answer column each month in the AOA magazine. I have really learned so much from this column and all of the information material from the AOA. I just wanted to say, thank you.
Answer Eight: I so appreciate your kind words and I truly enjoy writing this column. I recently started an expansion to this column. You can now listen to my audio podcasts which discusses, in detail, the questions you read each month. You can listen to the podcast on my website, “EVICT123.com”. Just click on the button “Landlord/Tenant Podcasts”. You can also listen by downloading my app to your cell phone. “EVICT123”.
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 Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.