Question One: I have a tenant who just purchased an electric vehicle. She is requiring that I install an electric charging station in the garage. Am I required to do this?
Answer One: Under California law, a landlord must allow a tenant to install an electric charging station. The cost of the installation and its maintenance will be the obligation of the tenant. The tenant will also have to reimburse the landlord for the cost of the electricity which will be considered additional rent.  The average price of electricity to charge a vehicle is $2.50 per day.

Question Two: Under the new law dealing with recreational marijuana use, I have read that tenants can grow up to six marijuana plants on my property. Do I have to allow this activity?
Answer Two: While the law allows the tenant the right to cultivate marijuana for recreational use, the landlord can have a provision in a lease which would prohibit this type of conduct.  For existing month to month tenants, you may serve a 30-day change of terms of tenancy, which would prohibit smoking of any substance and from cultivation.  Additionally, you should have a term in your rental agreement that excludes all conduct that is unlawful under state and federal law. Since the cultivation of marijuana is illegal under federal law, this will also exclude this conduct.

Question Three: I have a tenant who changed the locks without my consent. I have asked him to give me a copy and he refuses.  Can I change the lock and give him a copy of the key?
Answer Three: You could serve a 24 hour access notice that you are going to change the locks and then provide the tenant with a key. I am not sure, however, what this will accomplish. The tenant will likely change the lock again. The better approach would be to demand that the tenant give you a key. If the tenant refuses, this would be grounds to evict.

Question Four: I have a rent control property in the City of Los Angeles. I have a tenant paying very low rent and I would like to offer a “cash for keys” agreement. I heard that the city is prohibiting this in a new law. Is this true?
Answer Four: The City of Los Angeles has recently passed a new ordinance which regulates buyout agreements. Under this new code, LAMC 151.31, the tenant must be given a disclosure statement which must be signed and filed with the City. The new law allows the tenant 30 days to rescind the agreement. If the landlord fails to strictly comply with this law, the tenant may bring an action and recover damages and a penalty in the sum of $500. Based on this law, any buyout agreement should be reviewed by an attorney.

Question Five: I live in Encino, Calif. I have a guest house in the back of my house which I would like to rent out to get some extra income. Am I legally allowed to rent this unit?
Answer Five: In the City of Los Angeles, you are not permitted to lease this unit, unless it has a Certificate of Occupancy for a separate residence.  Under the City law, there is no obligation for the tenant to pay rent and you would be required to pay thousands in relocation fees. There is some hope on the horizon. Under a new law, Senate Bill 1069, it is now much easier to obtain proper building permits. Parking standards and lot density have generally been eliminated. In addition there is no requirement for separate utility meters. This law became effective as of January 1, 2017. You should check with a licensed contractor as to the requirements that will be required for your specific unit.

Question Six: I believe my tenant is trying to put together a false lawsuit against me. She has tampered with her smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the gas valve on her furnace. She had harassed a HVAC technician, trying to get him to assert that she was breathing carbon dioxide. The technician indicated that it appeared that she had tampered with the valve. I replaced the furnace with a new unit and she complained that the pilot went out. I sent out a technician who successfully lit the pilot multiple times. The technician thinks she intentionally blew it out. She has now stated her water heater is not working,

She will not reply to my messages or calls to check the water heater. I scheduled a tech to come. If she is not there, can I just let myself in?
Answer Six: You have a tenant with an obvious agenda. You should serve a proper access notice stating the date, time and reason why you will be accessing the unit. If the tenant is not there, you may use your passkey or use the services of a locksmith to access the unit. I would also send the tenant a letter documenting her improper conduct and threaten her that an eviction will commence, if she continues to tamper with the fixtures.

Question Seven:  I just purchased a rent control building where there are no written rental agreements. Do I have to wait one year before I can serve rent increase notices?
Answer Seven: The issue does not involve the date when you bought the premises. The rent can be raised on a yearly basis. As long as the tenant’s rent has not been raised within the last year, you are free to serve an immediate rent increase notice.

Question Eight: I have a tenant that just has a plain bad attitude. She is never friendly and is always demanding, regardless of the situation. She is on a month to month tenancy and the premises are subject to Los Angeles rent control. Since I own this building, why can’t I ask her just to move?
Answer Eight: I feel your pain. I will be contacting the City Council of Los Angeles and ask them to allow for an additional reason to evict. “I just do not like my tenant’s attitude.”

 

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”.