Question One: I have an apartment complex in Burbank. There is another building next to mine that has very noisy neighbors. My tenants are constantly complaining. What are my options?
Answer One: You cannot directly control the actions of those tenants. I would write a letter to the property owner and explain the situation and ask for the owner’s assistance. You should also have your tenants contact the police department each time there is a disturbance. Lastly, you can contact the City Attorney of Burbank and ask them to file nuisance charges against the property owner for failing to control the situation.
Question Two: My property is located in San Bernardino. Can I serve a 30-day change of terms of tenancy which will require all tenants to provide their own renter’s insurance?
Answer Two: If this is not already contained in the rental agreement, this would be appropriate. If the tenant is on a lease, you would have to wait for the lease to expire before serving the change of term notice.
Question Three: I have leased a single family residence to a tenant. This tenant has just installed a trampoline. Am I liable for injury and can I ask the tenant to remove it?
Answer Three: You would not be liable for injury, as you did not install this device. Most contracts require that the tenant first obtain the written consent of the landlord before making alterations. On this basis, you would have the right to ask the tenant to remove the trampoline.
Question Four: I leased a guest house I have in the rear of my house. The property is located in Los Angeles. The tenant paid one month rent and now refuses to pay. She claims that the house is not legal and that she will be calling the City Inspector. What are my rights?
Answer Four: In the City of Los Angeles, if an owner leases an illegal unit, the tenant has no obligation to pay the rent. The City also requires the landlord to pay relocation fees to the tenant. Relocation ranges from $7,800 to $19,500. You need to complete an application process with the City. Once approved, you need to serve this tenant with a 60-day notice to quit and pay relocation fees within 15 days of the service of the notice to quit. It would appear that your tenant was “schooled” with this knowledge and was looking to lease an illegal unit. Another possibility would be to have the unit declared legal. Under Government Code Sections 65583.1, 65852.2 and 65915, the State requires local Building and Safety Departments to issue permits when certain criteria can be met. You can check this out with a general contractor.
Question 5: Last year I purchased a property in Ventura and retained the services of a management company. I have now decided that I would like to manage the property myself. I will be sending the management company a 30 day notice. My question is, what forms would you suggest for notifying the tenants? In addition, should I redo their leases or amend them?
Answer 5: There is no need to provide new rental agreements or amendments. You do need to inform the tenants, in writing, that you will now be managing the property. They need to receive your contact information, including a physical address where notices can be sent. In addition, you should inform them where the rent should be paid.
Question 6: I am a senior citizen and want to take in a boarder to supplement my income. I advertised and a young man applied. I told him that as a female, I did not feel comfortable living with a man. He immediately threatened me that I was discriminating and that he would be suing me. What are my rights?
Answer 6: The law does not allow landlords to discriminate on the basis of sex. There is an exception. Since you live in the unit, the law allows you to discriminate on any basis, including sex, ethnicity and religion. You have nothing to worry about.
Question 7: We have had a hot water issue over the past five days. We located a slab leak and are correcting it. Tenants are requesting reimbursement for those days. Would you recommend a discount in rent, direct check to each tenant, or another method?
Answer 7: You should first check your lease to see if this situation is covered. In general, you should give them a rent credit for the days the units could not be used.
Question 8: How long should we keep rental applications and rental agreements? I have been hanging on to these documents for years and need to clear them out to make some space.
Answer 8: If you deny an application to rent, you must provide the denied tenant written information as to what you used to deny that application, such as their credit report or tenant history report. The Statute of Limitations, for an action that could be brought against you, is three years. On that basis, keep applications for that period of time. On rental agreements, you should keep the document for at least four years after the tenant vacates. The Statute of Limitations on a contract is four years in the State of California.
Question 9: I evicted a tenant and during the process I discovered that she had been evicted right before I leased her unit. I had run an eviction report and it did not show up? How is that possible? I would never lease to someone who has a past eviction on their record.
Answer 9: It is possible that the eviction was so recent, that it did not get into the reporting data services. There is another disturbing possibility. Many times the tenant’s attorney will demand, as part of the settlement, that the eviction record be sealed. In this way, the eviction will never be reported. Some judges in the Los Angeles Court, who act like tenant advocates, encourage tenants to ask for the record to be sealed. While you should always get an eviction report, you cannot rely on it exclusively. I suggest requiring applicants to have a higher credit score of at least 640. A person, who was evicted, will generally not have a high credit rating.
I will be giving a seminar, as part of the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show, on May 19, 2016 at the Long Beach Convention. My topic will be “How to Properly Screen Tenants”. I will be speaking at 1:15 PM. I have some very interesting ideas on how not to get stung by a bad applicant.
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. 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”.