Question One: I recently had an applicant apply for an apartment that I own in Culver City. The applicant was part of the Section 8 Program and was requesting that I lease him the unit on that basis. Would it be discriminatory to reject the applicant, as I really do not want to get involved in that program?
Answer One: You certainly have the right to reject an applicant, on the basis that you do not want to participate in the Section 8 program. Many landlords find the program to be onerous and time consuming. It should be noted that the City of Santa Monica passed an ordinance declaring it to be discriminatory to reject an applicant, solely on the basis of the Section 8 Program. In a lawsuit filed by a local apartment association, the trial court ruled that the ordinance was constitutional and dismissed the lawsuit. However, I expect that the decision will be appealed.
Question Two: I have a house and I rent out rooms only to females. A transsexual has applied. She was a man but now is a female. Must I rent to her?
Answer Two: Under the law, it would be discriminatory to deny her a unit on that basis alone. You cannot discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation, which means that you would also have to rent to a man if one applied. The only exception would be if you were leasing only one room in your house that you also occupy. In that case, you would be free to lease only to females.
Question Three: I own a townhouse in Redondo Beach. The lease is expiring at the end of this month and I wish to raise the rent over 10%. My tenant is telling me that I will need to serve a 60-day rent increase notice, in order to effectively raise the rent. Is this true?
Answer Three: Your tenant is correct. If you are going to serve a rent increase notice, where the increase exceeds 10%, you will need to serve a 60-Day Notice to Change of Terms of Tenancy. If you do not want to be forced to serve this notice, you could employ another tactic. Tell the tenant that you are requesting that a new lease be signed, which has the new stated rent. If the tenant signs the agreement, it is legally binding and no 60-day notice is required. If the tenant refuses to sign the agreement, inform this person that you are not renewing the lease and that the premises must be vacated by the end of the month. No notice to terminate the tenancy is required, if a fixed term lease expires.
Question Four: I own a single family residence in the San Fernando Valley. I have decided to put the house up for sale and I issued a 60-day Notice to Vacate to my tenant who is on a month to month rental agreement. The tenant moved after 30 days and is demanding his full security deposit be returned. Am I allowed to charge him for the additional 30 days, since he never provided me with advance notice?
Answer Four: In order to terminate a month to month tenancy, the landlord and the tenant are required to serve a written notice. In this instance you properly served a 60 day notice to terminate the tenancy. Since your tenant did not serve you with a written 30 day notice to vacate, the tenant is responsible for one month’s rent.
Question Five: I own an apartment building in the City of Los Angeles. My manager accepted, what she thought was a bank check, on a new tenancy. The check was returned with the notation, “account unknown”. This tenant is now living in my unit and has paid nothing. When I confronted the tenant, he gave me some crazy story. It has been a few days and I still have not received my rent or the security deposit. What should I do?
Answer Five: I would immediately file a police report as this is criminal conduct. At the same time, I would serve a Notice to Pay the Rent or Quit. In addition, you would need to serve a Notice to Perform or Quit to demand the security deposit. You cannot ask for a security deposit in a rent notice. If the tenant does not timely comply with both notices you should commence an immediate eviction.
Question Six: I gave a tenant 72 hour notice that I would be entering the apartment “within the next few days”. Does a notice for entry need to be “exactly” 24 hours, or can it be longer?
Answer Six: A notice to enter the dwelling must be given at least 24 hours in advance. It must be in writing and state the date, time and reason for entering the unit. If the work required will take longer then one day, the notice should reflect the range of dates and times that you will need to access the unit. This form is available on the AOA website.
Question Seven: I have a rent controlled apartment building in Los Angeles. One of the tenants was occupying a unit when I purchased the building. She does not have a rental agreement. Currently, she has four dogs. I advised her that this is a “no pet” building, but she refuses to remove the animals stating the no rental agreement prohibits her from keeping these dogs. Is there anything I can do?
Answer Seven: Pursuant to an ordinance in the City of Los Angeles, a person may maintain only three dogs on the property, unless they have a kennel license. In this scenario, you could ask her to remove one dog and if she refuses, you could commence an eviction.
Question Eight: I have a tenant who does not pay his garage rent consistently and has accumulated a balance of $835. Can we serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit and eventually move on to an Unlawful Detainer? He does pay the rent on his apartment.
Answer Eight: You can certainly serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit and commence an eviction. The eviction would only be for the garage and not for his apartment. Based on the way you have set up this contract, you have two tenancies which are separate.
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”.