This article was posted on Sunday, May 13, 2012

Question One:  I have a rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles. One of my friends owns a similar building that was built around the same time as mine. He tells me that he is not under rent control because he has a luxury exemption. I have never heard of that. What is this?
Answer One: You can have one unit or the entire building exempt from rent control in the City of Los Angeles if you can have a Luxury Exemption Certificate issued. This requires that you establish that the rent for a particular unit, on or before May 31, 1978, was at a certain minimum amount. For a one-bedroom unit, the amount would be $420. For a two-bedroom unit the amount would be $588. An application process would have to be filed with the City where proof of this rental amount would have to be supplied.

Question Two: I own a condominium in the City of Los Angeles. It is currently rented on a month-to-month tenancy and I was considering having my son move into this unit. What steps must I take to have the tenant vacate?
Answer Two: If the premises received its Certificate of Occupancy after Oct. 1, 1978 it would not be subject to the Rent Stabilization. You would be free to serve a 60-day notice to quit if your tenant has been in the unit for a one-year period. If your property were subject to Rent Stabilization, you would be forced to pay thousands in relocation fees to have the right to evict this tenant. An alternative approach would be to merely raise the rent. While condominiums can be subject to Rent Stabilization, they are not subject to rent limitations and therefore you can simply raise the rent to this tenant.

Question Three: A former tenant is objecting to the security deposit itemization that I sent to him. I deducted for cleaning and he states that it is my responsibility to clean the unit for the next tenant and therefore I cannot deduct for cleaning. Is this true?
Answer Three: Your tenant is wrong. Civil Code 1950.5 states that you can deduct for reasonable cleaning charges. If you hire a service, you may deduct for the cost of this service as long as it was reasonable. In the last few years, the code now allows you to deduct for cleaning charges, even if you or your manager did the work personally. You must keep track of your hours and charge a reasonable rate per hour.

Question Four: My tenant wants to install a satellite dish on my eight unit apartment house. I really do not like the way it looks. Do I have a right to prevent him from doing this?
Answer Four: Under FCC rules, a tenant has the absolute right to have a satellite dish for viewing television. The dish, however, can only be installed on the tenant’s private patio or can be directed out from his window. The tenant does not have the right to install a satellite dish on your rooftop, exterior walls, or any common area of the property. So in this regard, you have the right to prevent this installation.

Question Five: My tenant wants me to evict a friend who he let stay in his unit. This person has been there a couple of months and has been giving my tenant a very tough time. He has never paid any rent. What steps should I take to rid the building of the person?
Answer Five: You should not take any steps. This is not your problem. It is your tenant who should be taking steps to remove this person. Since the person has been there for 30-days, an eviction would have to be commenced. This type of arrangement is considered a tenancy at will, as no rent was paid. A 30-day notice to quit should be served by your tenant. You have no obligation, nor should you attempt to do this eviction. It is the responsibility of your tenant.

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Question Six: We have a new tenant who is terminating her tenancy because she feels that we have not provided a habitable environment. She notified us that there was a pest issue and also a small gas leak. We immediately called a pest control company and a vendor to deal with the gas leak. We could not deal with the repairs as quickly as we would have liked.
This was partly due to the tenant’s unavailability. The problems were all fixed within seven days. The tenant’s lawyer is attempting to break the lease and is demanding the full security deposit back. I also found out that the tenant put a stop payment on the rent for this current month. What are my rights?
Answer Six: A landlord does not warrant that there will never be a problem at the premises. The landlord is required to fix those items dealing with habitability in a reasonable period of time. Based on your facts, you clearly acted reasonably and there is no basis of your tenant attempting to cancel the lease. I would immediately issue a 3-day notice to pay the rent or quit and commence an eviction after this notice expires. You should also inform the tenant’s attorney that you would be holding his client responsible for the entire lease term.

Question Seven: Is it proper to deliver a security deposit itemization by email? I do not know where the tenant moved, but I know his email address has not changed.
Answer Seven: You cannot serve a security deposit itemization by email. You would have to personally deliver it to the tenant or mail it. Since you do not have the new address for the tenant, you should mail it to the last known address. This is the unit he just vacated. It would also be a good idea to email it. Currently, there is a legislative bill pending in the California that would give landlords the right to serve an itemization by email. I would support the passage of this bill.

Question Eight: I have a rear guesthouse, which my mother rents from me. I charge her reduced rent but she has failed to pay for the last two months. Since she is my mother, do I really need to go through a full eviction?
Answer Eight: Shame on you! Evicting your own mother around Mother’s Day. Even I would not take this case! And while we are on the subject, I want to wish everyone a Happy Mother’s Day.

Reminder: Do not forget to come out the to AOA Million Dollar Trade Show being held on May 17, 2012 at the Long Beach Convention Center. I will be speaking at 1:15 PM. “The Secrets to an Effective Eviction and New Developments in Landlord/Tenant Law” -Area A.

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 Don’t miss his Landlord/Tenant Radio Show, every Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m., KTYM 1460 AM. Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, or text him at (818) 570-1557.

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