Question One: I have a rent controlled property in the City of Los Angeles with a Section 8 tenant who is on a one-year lease that is expiring. I have been frustrated dealing with Section 8 and now I would like to terminate the program. I know I can terminate my Section 8 relationship but the tenant is allowed to stay, paying the full rent without the subsidy. What are the proper notices I need to serve?
Answer One: Unfortunately, this is not an option for landlords due to a recent court decision in Crisalas Vs Estrada. In this case, the Appellate Court ruled that you cannot terminate your relationship with Section 8 unless you have good cause as enumerated by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. The effect of this decision is to force landlords to continue their relationship with Section 8 in perpetuity. Landlords should really consider carefully initiating a Section 8 tenancy for a rent-controlled unit. This is a clear case of the government again intruding upon the right of landlords. The decision by the Appellate Court can be viewed at: www.evict123.com/Section8.pdf .
Question Two: My tenant has changed the lock to his apartment and refuses to give me a key. He is on a one-year lease. I really do not feel comfortable in case an emergency occurs. My lease has no provisions regarding changing the locks. What are my rights?
Answer Two: All standard leases have a provision preventing the tenant from altering the premises without the landlord’s written consent. Changing the locks would be considered altering the premises. On this basis, you should serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit, giving the tenant the option of giving you a key or restoring the locks to the original key. If the tenant fails to comply within the 3-day period, you would have grounds for eviction.
Question Three: I cannot believe that I have just lost my eviction case. My lease specifically prohibits pets on the premises. My tenant brought in a dog and I issued a Notice to Perform or Quit. When the tenant refused to remove the dog, I initiated an unlawful detainer action.
At trial, the tenant did not dispute that a dog was brought onto the property but claimed that since I had been cashing his rent checks, that I have waived my right to bring forth this action. The judge agreed with my tenant and dismissed my case. I really am at a loss to understand. This case was not about rent and clearly the tenant has to pay rent for the time that he is living at my property. What happened?
Answer Three: The judge correctly followed the law. Once you serve a notice you cannot continue to accept rent. When the notice expired, this terminated the tenancy. If the tenancy is terminated, you cannot continue to accept rent. If you had won your case, the judgment would have also included rent for this time period.
Question Four: I have an 8-unit apartment complex in Carson. I evicted a tenant who failed to pay the rent. During the eviction, this tenant was particularly nasty. Now that she has been evicted, she continues to frequent my property as she is a friend with one of the tenants. Since she was evicted, can I stop her from coming to my property?
Answer Four: Your eviction is effective from preventing your tenant from occupying her specific unit. It does not prevent her from visiting other friends at the complex. If the evicted tenant creates any problems, suggest to your current tenant that you will issue a notice to quit terminating her tenancy.
Question Five: I have an apartment building that is not under rent control. Six months ago I raised the tenant’s rent by 5%. I would like to raise the rent but this time by 7%. I understand that if I raise the rent less than 10%, I will only need to serve a 30-day notice. Is this correct?
Answer Five: You are incorrect. The law states that if you are raising the rent 10% or less, in any one-year period, you may serve a 30-day notice. Since you are raising the rent more than 10% in a one-year period, a 60-day notice is required.
Question Six: I am trying to rent out a unit and it has been difficult. I have an applicant with shaky credit and would consider renting the unit to him if I could get a large security deposit. In my advertisement, I request a security deposit equal to one month’s rent. Is it legal to increase the security in this situation?
Answer Six: You certainly have the right to demand more security, based on the credit worthiness of the applicant. In no event, however, can you exceed a security that is in excess of two month’s rent.
Question Seven: I have a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. Recently, a tenant contacted the Los Angeles Housing Department and made a complaint about a window in her unit that would not close properly. She never told me about this condition but just called and made a complaint to the City. The LAHD sent me an Order to Comply and so I immediately fixed the window. Now I am getting an invoice from the City for over $200 for the cost of the inspection. I complained to the City that this was unfair and they told me that there was nothing they could do. Any suggestions?
Answer Seven: This is just another example of how the City of Los Angeles steals from landlords. Clearly, your tenant should be the one who is responsible for this inspection fee, as they did not inform you first. The City should be required to have the tenant sign a form that indicates that the landlord was made aware of this situation but refused to take any action. Unfortunately, our City managers have no common sense. I would contact your local City Council representative and make a complaint. The office might be able to intercede and get the fee waived. If not, I would sue the tenant in Small Claims court for the cost of the inspection fee. Lastly, I have a form that requires tenants to put all repair requests in writing and makes the tenant responsible for any inspection fees improperly incurred. The form can be downloaded at www.evict123.com/repair.pdf.
Question Eight: I have owned apartments for many years and I feel that it is very difficult to keep up with all the legislation and rules in managing my units. Do you have any suggestions on how I can keep up with these issues?
Answer Eight: The AOA magazine is an excellent source for keeping up with the new rules and regulations. Another source would be to come and listen to my lecture at the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show and Landlording Conference. I will be speaking at the Los Angeles Convention Center on October 17, 2012 at 3:00 p.m. My topic this year is to How to Avoid Legal Pitfalls and the New Laws You Must Know. I will also be giving away 20 free DVD’s to some lucky attendees!
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. Download the Dennis Block FREE app for your Smartphone “ Landlord Legal Helper.