Question One: I had a tenant sign a one-year lease which will expire on Feb. 28, 2018. On Dec. 15, 2017, he served me with a 30 day notice that he would be vacating as of Jan. 15, 2018. I have since leased the unit, effective Feb. 1, 2018. Is my original tenant liable for rent through Feb. 28, 2018?
Answer One: The law does not allow for double recovery. If you attempted to seek rent through Feb. 28, 2018, you would be getting paid twice on the same unit. You are allowed to seek rent from your original tenant up until the day the premises were leased to your current tenant.
Question Two: If the tenant brings in bedbugs, are we allowed to charge them for the cost to treat the unit? The tenant has occupied the unit for over a one year period.
Answer Two: Under the Civil Code, a landlord is responsible to keep the premises free of pests. Unless you can prove with certainty that the tenant created the infestation, you would be responsible for the cost. On another note, a new California law requires that you give a “Bed Bug Disclosure” form to each of your tenants. That form is available from the AOA – form 157.
Question Three: I have two tenants that moved into my building in 2011. My property is subject to the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. In reviewing their lease I have discovered that they were not assigned a parking space. Their rents are about $400 below market. Can I now charge a modest monthly fee for the parking or revoke the parking if the tenant does not sign a parking agreement?
Answer Three: Even though parking is not noted in the rental agreement, it would appear that the tenants have had parking since the inception of their tenancy. Based on that fact, it would be determined that parking was included in the tenancy and you would not be able to charge for the parking or remove this amenity.
Question Four: I own a single residential unit in the City of Los Angeles. The City has told me that my property is under rent control, since there is a commercial store that is also on the same lot. I thought that a single family residence is exempt from rent control?
Answer Four: A single family residence is not under rent control. There is an exception. If your unit is attached to the commercial unit, the residential unit would be subject to rent control. A single family residence must be separated from all of units.
Question Five: I own an 8 unit building in the City of San Diego. I have a tenant on a month to month tenancy. I do not get along with this person and I wish to terminate the tenancy. The tenant has lived in the unit for more than two years. What type of notice should I serve to terminate the tenancy?
Answer Five: Generally, if a tenant has occupied the unit for more than one year, a 60 day notice is required to terminate a month to month tenancy. Unfortunately, San Diego has now instituted a policy of requiring good cause to terminate a tenancy. Good cause includes nonpayment of rent, breach of the rental agreement, nuisance and other specified reasons. The mere fact that you do not get along with your tenant, will not be a sufficient ground to terminate this tenancy. You should check with an attorney regarding the specific conduct of this tenant, to evaluate whether you have grounds under this ordinance to terminate the tenancy.
Question Six: I have a tenant who is chronically late in paying rent. I purchased the building last year and the seller had lost the lease agreement. The tenant did sign an estoppel. If I proceed with an eviction, can the estoppel be used in place of an actual signed lease?
Answer Six: An estoppel is merely an acknowledgment by the tenant as to the terms of tenancy. Usually, this will include the names of the occupants, the rental amount, the due date for the rent and the amount of the security deposit that is being held. An estoppel is not a contract, but can be used as evidence in a court of law, as to the terms of the tenancy. In this case, whether you have a written agreement or not, an action can always be brought on the basis that the tenant has not paid the rent.
Question Seven: I have a Section 8 tenant who is constantly requesting repairs. Residency began in April 2017 and I have received 15 calls and have received 66 text messages pertaining to 15 problems which have all been resolved. However, she now wants service for a clogged bathroom sink. It is clearly stated in her lease that this problem is something she must remedy. Help me. I’m at my wit’s end with this one. What actions can I take for this kind of abuse of a landlord?
Answer Seven: Unfortunately, it is the responsibility of the landlord to deal with plumbing problems. If the tenant put an object in the drain, which caused the blockage, then it would be the tenant’s responsibility to pay for the repair. On a global issue, you can merely terminate the tenancy. I am assuming this property is not under rent control. If this is the case, a 90 day notice to terminate, which recites economic reasons, could be served on the tenant.
Question Eight: Under the City of Los Angeles I am entitled to charge $3.61 per month for the Special Code Enforcement Program (SCEP). Am I entitled to include this charge in a 3 day notice to pay rent or quit?
Answer Eight: The City regulations consider SCEP to be a rent surcharge. On that basis, I believe that it is proper to include it in a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. Some judges, however, take the position that that is not rent and have caused landlords to lose their eviction cases. This issue has yet to be determined on appeal. On that basis, I would recommend not putting a SCEP charge into your notice. Your rental agreement could include a provision that all SCEP charges are to be considered additional rent. That would take away all uncertainty.
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, Orange: 714.634.823, San Diego: 619.481.5423 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”.