Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California rent control laws followed by answers provided by eviction attorney Dennis Block.
Question One: I own a 27-unit apartment building in Los Angeles, which is not under rent control. We had a six-month lease with one of the tenants, and currently, the tenancy is month-to-month. We constantly receive noise complaints from other residents. Despite my warning letters, these tenants continue to disturb the other residents.
In addition, they are also three months behind in the rent. Under the City of Los Angeles eviction moratorium, can we give them a 30-day notice to move out on the grounds of the nuisances. Also, can we accept rent if they offer to pay?
Answer One: Your tenants are engaging in behavior that is interfering with the comfort, safety, and enjoyment of other tenants. This constitutes a nuisance. You can serve a 3-Day Notice to Quit, based on this behavior, and then proceed with an eviction. If the matter is contested, you will need your other residents as witnesses, if a trial occurs. During the eviction process, you are not to accept any rent.
Question Two: My building is located in Burbank, California. In July 2022, I served my tenant with a rent increase notice, which increased the rent 8.5%; effective September 1, 2022. On August 22, 2022, the tenant emailed a form entitled “Notice to Landlord of Inability to Pay Rent Due to Covid-19”. Does this notice negate the 8.5% rent increase, or do I have to serve another rent increase notice once the moratorium is lifted?
Answer Two: The fact that your tenant sent you the “Notice to Landlord of Inability to Pay Rent Due to Covid-19” does not invalidate the rent increase notice. Assuming the increase notice was served correctly, it is valid and effective.
Question Three: I just heard that the City of Los Angeles’ Eviction moratorium will expire on February 1, 2023. Does that mean that I can finally serve my rent-controlled tenant with a rent increase? I have been unable to serve a rent increase notice for the past three years!
Answer Three: Unfortunately, you will not be able a rent increase as of that date. During the city’s moratorium, there was a prohibition on rent increases for rent control properties. Under the city’s moratorium, you will not be allowed to increase rent until February 1, 2024. The ordinance prohibits rent increase for one year after the State of Emergency is declared over, which is now February 1, 2023.
Question Four: I just purchased a four-unit building that is subject to Los Angeles City Rent Control. All rents are month-to-month and far below market rents. Can I increase the rent to market, being that I am the new owner? Can I require the tenants to sign new leases?
Answer Four: This property is still under a rent freeze, due to the eviction moratorium for the City of Los Angeles. As such, you cannot increase the rents. Even if there was not a freeze on rental increases, your property is still subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. On that basis, you will not be able to increase your rent to market level. The percentage of the rent increase is determined by the city and is generally 3 to 8 percent. Lastly, while you can request that your tenants sign a rental agreement, you cannot force them to do so.
Question Five: I just read that the city’s moratorium will expire on February 1, 2023. Does that mean on February 1, 2023, I can serve a 3 Day Notice for all of the rent that my tenant owes me?
Answer Five: This is not permitted. As of February 1, 2023, you will only be able to demand rent that becomes due on February 1, 2023, and thereafter. Rent owed prior to February 1, 2023 will not become due until February 1, 2024.
Question Six: I recently lost my eviction case. The judge informed my lawyer that the 3-day notice to pay rent or quit was defective. The judge stated that the notice must indicate that when calculating when the 3-day period, it must state that you do not include Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays. I have been using this same 3-day to pay rent or quit for years and never had an issue. Was the judge correct?
Answer Six: The law has changed within the last year and the 3-day notice must include the phrase, “When calculating days do not include Saturdays, Sundays and Judicial Holidays.” If your notice does not have this verbiage, your notice will be deemed defective. Please note that you should use the words, Judicial Holidays and not Legal Holidays.
Question Seven: We have an apartment building that is located in the City of Los Angeles. This building is under the Los Angeles rent control ordinance. Recently, my tenant brought in another person to occupy the unit. This was without my approval and in violation of the rental agreement. Under the terms of the rental agreement, I am entitled to a 10% rent increase. Is it permissible to raise the rent at this time or can I commence an eviction due to this violation?
Answer Seven: You are prohibited from increasing the rent and evicting, due to the current moratorium in the City of Los Angeles.
Question Eight: When I send a security deposit refund form, do I have to send copies of invoices or do I just the send the form and hold receipts and invoices in case they request them? Lastly, if the tenant does not provide a forwarding address, do I still have to prepare the security itemization form? I will not have a way of sending it to my former tenant.
Answer Eight: If you are making any deduction of $125 or over, you must provide invoices, written estimates, or receipts to your tenant. Regardless of whether you have been provided a forwarding address, you must still prepare the form and send it within 21 days from when the unit was vacated. If you do not have a forwarding address, you are required to send it to the last known address, which would be the unit the tenant vacated.
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: 714.634.8232, 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. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.