Question One: Can I serve both a Three-Day to Pay the Rent and a Notice to Perform Covenant or Quit at the same time?
Answer One: This is certainly permissible. If a tenant owes rent and also has failed to pay a portion of the security deposit, this would be an example when both notices could be served. You are not permitted to ask for the security deposit in a Notice to Pay Rent. That notice can only be used for a rental obligation. The Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit would be the notice required to demand the balance of the security deposit.
Question Two: I have a no pet policy for my building. An applicant claims to have a “service dog”. How can I differentiate between a pet and a service dog? What documentation can I request and can I ask the applicant to carry liability insurance?
Answer Two: You are allowed to ask for documentation that the animal is a certified service dog. In addition, you can ask for proof that the applicant is disabled. You are not permitted to require this person to carry liability insurance.
Question Three: I have a rent controlled unit in the City of Los Angeles. Am I permitted to ask for an increase for the security deposit?
Answer Three: Under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance you are permitted a corresponding increase in the security deposit, at the same time you are raising the rent. This year, Los Angeles permits a 3% rent increase. A landlord is also permitted to raise the security deposit by that same percentage.
Question Four: We have a condominium near the University of Southern California. The unit is currently rented to three students. Apparently, they are having some internal disputes as to what amount each one should be paying. Their lease ends June 2014. We are fine with an early lease termination. Two of the students want to leave early but the third student wants to remain. Is there any way to force an early termination of the lease?
Answer Four: In order for the lease to be terminated early, you would need all parties to be in agreement. If the third student does not want an early termination, then the lease must remain in effect.
Question Five: My lease provides that the landlord is responsible for the water. Recently, the water bill increased from $225 to $425 per month. I conducted an inspection of the premises and there are no water leaks. I suspect that a tenant is intentionally leaving the water running to increase my expenses. I do not get along with this tenant and I could easily see her doing this out of spite. This is a rent controlled building. Any suggestions?
Answer Five: During the day, when this tenant is out, listen for water running from this unit. You probably will need to enter the unit of adjacent tenant to establish this. Once you determine that the water is left running, you may enter the unit on an emergency basis without notice. Of course, you should first knock on the door to establish that this tenant is not present. Take pictures that the faucets were left on. Thereafter, confront this tenant with your proof and demand payment for the excess water use. If the tenant refuses, this could be a ground for eviction and you can also sue this tenant in small claims court.
Question Six: I am assisting an owner lease his single-family residence. It has been disclosed that the neighbor across the street has a criminal background and has been incarcerated. Do I have an obligation to disclose this information to prospective tenants?
Answer Six: There is no obligation in law for you to disclose this information.
Question Seven: I own a duplex in Burbank. My current tenant wants to operate a day care center from this residence. She claims to have a day care license and will provide proof of insurance. She states that the law permits her to do this. Am I obligated to allow this business to be carried out on my property?
Answer Seven: Under the California Health and Safety Code, a landlord must allow a tenant the right to have a day care center, if they possess the requisite license and maintain insurance. The insurance must be at least $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 for the total annual aggregate. In lieu of the insurance, the day care provider must have a signed affidavit by each parent whose child is being cared for. This law, however, is limited to single family residences. Since your property is a duplex, you may properly turn down the request of this tenant.
Question Eight: I have a single-family residence in Culver City. I am currently selling this house. I have a long-term tenant, who is on a month-to-month tenancy. This tenant is behind in the rent. I need to have this tenant removed immediately, as the house is in escrow. What should I do?
Answer Eight: I would serve a 3-day notice for the rent and a 60-day notice to vacate. If the tenant fails to pay the rent within the 3-day period, you should commence an eviction action. If the tenant pays the rent you would need to wait the 60-day period in order to initiate an eviction, assuming the tenant fails to vacate. If the buyer of the property intends to move into the unit as personal residence, the law would allow you to serve a 30-day notice, instead of the 60-day notice.
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”.