Question One: I have a Section 8 tenant who paid her rent with a postdated check. I received it on the first of the month but I did not realize that the tenant had dated it for the 3rd. The check did go through, as the tenant had overdraft protection. She was charged a $35 service fee. She expects me to pay the service fee as she explains that I had no right to negotiate the postdated check. Do I need to pay her this fee?
Answer One: Clearly you have no legal responsibility to pay this fee. Your tenant never should have presented you with a postdated check. You are entitled to your full rent, on the day it is due.
Question Two: I have a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. I raise the rent in accordance with the ordinance. To make it easier, I always round up the increase to the next dollar. The tenant is now failing to pay the rent and my attorney is telling me that I had no right to round up the rent. How should I prepare the 3-day notice to pay rent?
Answer Two: You will need to credit the tenant for all of the overages that you charged. Under the law, if your 3-day notice overstates the rent, even by one cent, it would be considered defective.
Question Three: I have a new tenant who works in construction. He and his wife would like to make some upgrades to the apartment such as, replace a vanity in the bathroom. They said if I purchased the vanity, the husband would install it. I told them I do not want to put any more money into the apartment. They asked if they paid for it and installed it, with no cost to me, would I approve. They stated that they intended to reside in the unit for a long time and would like it to be upgraded. Are there any problems with allowing this? Thank you.
Answer Three: It is generally a formula for disaster to allow a tenant to do any work in your unit. If finances permit, tell the tenant that if they purchase the fixture, you will install it. Prepare a contract which states that the fixture stays with the unit, after they vacate.
Question Four: What’s the latest on the law regarding smoke detectors? Do I have to replace existing detectors with ones that contain a 10 year battery? I had read that the law had changed last year.
Answer Four: You do not have to replace existing smoke detectors. Manufacturers are required to have a 10 year lithium battery installed in all of their smoke detector units. Once a detector is inoperative, you will need to replace it with an updated unit.
Question Five: I have a tenant who recently moved into my unit. He is now complaining about roaches. I have owned this building for over six years and have never had a complaint regarding roaches. Is it my responsibility to hire a pest control company? It is obvious that the tenant is responsible for this infestation.
Answer Five: Under California law, a landlord is responsible for pest control. Even though it is logical that the tenant created this situation, it would be very difficult to prove. Schedule the service immediately, so that the problem does not spread.
Question Six: Is it legal to require tenants to deposit rent directly into my bank account. I have a tenant telling me that the law requires an address where the rent can be delivered.
Answer Six: It is certainly permissible to have tenants deposit directly into your bank. You should provide the tenants with your bank account number and the address of the bank and their hours of operation.
Question Seven: I have two tenants who live together as boyfriend and girlfriend. They recently got into a fight and the boyfriend took off. The remaining tenant is demanding that I take his name off the lease and to change the locks. Should I be doing this?
Answer Seven: You have no right to change the locks or to remove one tenant from the lease. This is something that needs to be worked out between the two of them. You should not get involved.
Question Eight: I have a tenant who really does not live in my rent controlled unit. For the past three months he has allowed a relative to stay there, even though he continues to pay the rent. He denies that he has moved out and tells me that this person is just his guest. How should I handle this?
Answer Eight: You have a tenant who is abusing the rent control ordinance. If you have a written agreement, the actual occupant is probably not permitted to occupy the unit without your written consent. You should serve a Notice to Perform or Quit, giving your tenant three days to remove this relative. If the relative continues to occupy the unit, you would have grounds to evict everyone from the premises.
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”.