This article was posted on Thursday, Aug 01, 2013

Question One: We are thinking of re-piping our building. I know that this will be a capital improvement. Is there a way of passing this cost to my tenants? I have a rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles.

Answer One: The City of Los Angeles does allow for a landlord to pass through a portion of the expense for a capital improvement. You need to file an application with the City. Once it is approved, you are entitled to charge the tenants 50% of the cost of the improvement amortized over five years.

Question Two: I have a tenant who served me a 60-day notice of his intent to vacate. He is now refusing to pay the rent owed during this 60-day period. He is asking me to take it from his security deposit.
Answer Two: Obviously, your tenant cannot use the security deposit for current rent owed. Many times a tenant, without funds, will serve a 60-day notice in an attempt to stall for time. The tenant will actually have no intent to move. You should immediately serve a 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. Thereafter you should commence an eviction.

Question Three: I am considering renting to an applicant who has a dog.  Am I permitted to take a pet deposit?
Answer Three: The law allows a landlord to charge a security deposit up to two month’s rent. All deposits are considered a security deposit, regardless as to how it is categorized in the lease agreement. There is no need for a pet deposit. If the dog does any damage, this would be a proper deduction from the security deposit. Occasionally, a tenant has demanded that the pet deposit be returned if they no longer have the pet. This could not happen if it was designated as a security deposit.

Question Four: I have a renter who has been in a unit over 55 years. The property is located in Los Angeles and is under rent control. I have not raised his rent much over the years.  I would like to evict him. I have read that I can ask him to move if a family member or I would like to occupy the premises. He has become a nuisance to other renters and they are complaining on a regular basis. Do I have any grounds to evict for a family member?  He’s 76 years old.
Answer Four: Under the new guidelines for the City of Los Angeles, you cannot evict a tenant for a family member if the tenant has been in the unit over 10 years and is over 62 years of age. If the tenant is committing a nuisance, that could be grounds for eviction. You should send a warning letter to this tenant and collect letters from other tenants in the building. If the nuisance continues, then that would be grounds for an eviction.

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Question Five: I normally have the tenants make direct deposits into my bank account. I brought an eviction action against one of the residents and I lost the case. The court said that the 3-day notice was defective. I explained in the notice to direct deposit the funds into my account. What did I do wrong?
Answer Five: It is permissible to have the tenant make a deposit directly into your bank account. On the 3-day notice you must have the name of the bank, your account number, the bank address and the times when the bank is open. The bank must also be within five miles of your property. If any of these items were missing, your notice would be defective.

Question Six: I have a tenant who insists on parking his vehicle in any spot located on the property. I have the parking spots numbered. The tenant’s lease specifies the parking space number. Do I have the right to have this tenant’s vehicle towed?
Answer Six: As long as you have the proper signage regarding unauthorized vehicle parking, you would have the right to have the vehicle towed. A better solution might be to serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. If the tenant continues to park in an unauthorized space, that would be grounds for eviction.

Question Seven: I have a tenant in a rent-controlled unit who is using the common area as a storage space. All the exterior of the unit is filled with broken furniture, toys, and debris. The Los Angeles Housing Department has issued me an Order to Comply to remove all of the tenant’s personal belongings from the common area.  I do not have a written rental agreement with the tenant. Do I have a legal ground to evict the tenant without a lease agreement?
Answer Seven: Yes. In a residential tenancy, the tenant has an implied obligation to dispose of all garbage and other waste, in a clean and sanitary manner. The Order to Comply to remove all the personal items is also strong evidence to support the eviction. You can serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit demanding the removal of the personal items from the common areas. If the items are not removed, this would be grounds for eviction.

Question Eight: I have a female tenant who is currently employed as a model. She has a habit of leaving her draperies open and proceeds to walk about the unit in a negligee. Her window is in the courtyard so all the residents can see it. I have been getting complaints from some of the other female residents. How should I handle this? She is on a two-year lease.
Answer Eight: I am curious as to why the male residents have not voiced their objections? In any event, I rarely ever visit the property of my clients. In this case, I feel the need to have more information before answering this question. Please supply me with the property address and I will personally view the situation.

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 Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, or text him at (818) 570-1557.  Download the Dennis Block FREE app for your Smartphone – “Landlord Legal Helper”.



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