Question One: I have a tenant who keeps a pet rooster which is not allowed by our city’s ordinance. The tenant claims this is a support animal and has a confirming letter from a doctor. I really do not want to violate any law, but if I act, can I be sued for failing to allow a reasonable accommodation for my tenant’s medical condition?
Answer One: Clearly the doctor’s license should be revoked. Your situation demonstrates the absurdity in the way that law can be abused. In any event, this would not be considered a reasonable accommodation, as harboring barnyard animals would violate a local ordinance. I would immediately serve the tenant a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit to remove the rooster. If the tenant fails to do so, you could immediately initiate an unlawful detainer action.
Question Two: A tenant’s dog has become very aggressive and is lunging at other tenants. As a landlord, what steps can I legally take to remedy the dangerous situation?
Answer Two: I would first send a warning letter to the tenant. You should advise the tenant that the dog must be kept on a leash at all times within the common areas of the premises. The tenant should be further warned that a concerted effort should be made to keep the dog away from all other residents. If the problem continues, this could be grounds for eviction.
Question Three: I have a tenant that told me that I must put his security deposit in a separate account. Is there any law that requires this?
Answer Three: There is no law that requires a security deposit to be placed in a separate account. In fact, the landlord is free to use the deposit for any purchase. An obligation is imposed, however, to account and/or return the deposit within 21 days of the tenant vacating the unit.
Question Four: I want to serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay the Rent the moment that rent is late. Unfortunately, the lease which I inherited states rent is considered late 5 days after the rent is due. Does this prevent me from immediately serving a 3-Day Notice?
Answer Four: That provision in you lease, refers to when a late charge will be incurred. It does not prevent you from serving a 3 Day Notice, the day after the rent is due.
Question Five: I have an applicant with poor credit, but the applicant can have a co-signer execute the lease. I did a credit check on the co-signer, who has impeccable credit. The co-signer lives in Nevada. Do you think this is a wise move?
Answer Five: I advise my clients that if the person who will be occupying the unit is not credit worthy, do not lease the unit. Having a co-signer can be problematic. If you are required to bring forth an unlawful detainer action, you cannot name the co-signer. You would be forced to file a separate lawsuit. In this instance, the challenges of filing a lawsuit and collecting against an out of state resident can be very costly. Clearly you should pass on this applicant.
Question Six: Is there a limit to how much I can increase the rent on a tenant, once his lease expires? My property is located in San Diego.
Answer Six: San Diego is a civilized place to own property, as rent control does not exist. On that basis, you are free to raise the rent to any amount. If you are going to raise the rent in excess of 10%, a 60 Day Change of Terms of Tenancy is required.
Question Seven: I have to do some work in the parking lot of my apartment building. This will require the tenants to park on the street for a couple of days. One of my tenants is threatening not to move the car, unless he is given a rent deduction. Of course, this is a rent control building. How should I handle this?
Answer Seven: By law, a landlord is required and allowed to make necessary repairs. A tenant must allow for reasonable access to do these repairs. Tell your tenant that you will not be giving any compensation and that you will have the vehicle towed if it remains on the premises.
Question Eight: I own a single family residence in Pasadena. I recently signed a two-year lease with a tenant. My financial situation has taken a terrible turn and I find that I must sell this residence. Am I able to terminate the lease in this situation?
Answer Eight: Your financial situation does not have any bearing on the contractual relationship with your tenant. The lease is a legally binding document. You have two options. You can always sell the property with the tenant in possession. The buyer would be purchasing the house subject to the lease. The second option would be to negotiate with the tenant for an early buyout.
Personal Note: Thanks to all the attendees at the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show. A great success and I really enjoyed speaking and talking with so many of you.
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”.