Question One: What are the rules regarding a tenant who has installed a satellite dish on a flat roof without knowledge, permission or approval from owner?
Answer One: Clearly your tenant would not be able to install a satellite dish on your roof. Most rental agreements specifically state that any alteration to the premises must be done only with the owner’s written consent. In this situation, you should serve a “3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit” giving the tenant three days to remove the dish and cabling. If the tenant refuses to do so, that would be grounds for eviction. It should be noted, however, that the tenant does have the right to install a satellite dish on his own private patio or area. He cannot install it on the common walls or the roof.
Question Two: I had a tenant who was in very poor health. About three months ago he had a caretaker move into the apartment. This tenant has now died and the caretaker has taking up residency and refuses to move. Of course the rent has not been paid. Should I issue a three day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit?
Answer Two: You should not issue a Notice to Pay the Rent, as you do not have a landlord/tenant relationship with this person. Under California law, this person has no legal standing to remain in possession of the premises. You should issue a 3-Day Notice to Quit, as this person is an unauthorized subtenant in possession at the end of the lease term. This would be pursuant to Code of Civil Procedure 1161 subsection 4.
Question Three: I own a building that is not subject to rent control. One of my tenants is on a lease which expires on August 31st. I want her out and thus do not intend to renew the lease. What are my legal obligations in terms of when and how I have to inform her that I will not renew. I have seen conflicting information about how to proceed in this situation.
Answer Three: Actually no notice needs to be served. If the tenant remains in possession after August 31, 2012, you would have the right to commence an eviction action without the service of any notice. It is wise, however, to send the tenant an informal letter explaining that the lease will not be renewed and that the premises must be vacated at the end of the lease term.
Question Four: I am evicting my tenant for non payment of rent. I filed an unlawful detainer action and my tenant’s attorney is now requesting a jury trial. The terms of my lease prohibited either party from requesting a jury trial. Based on my rental agreement can I instruct the court to have the case heard by a judge?
Answer Four: Unfortunately, that provision of your lease is void pursuant to California law. In a residential eviction, any party has a right to have their case heard by a jury. Your lease should have a provision which limits the attorney fee that can be awarded to any prevailing party. This has the effect of limiting jury trials. If your lease does not have this provision, you may simply serve a notice of change of terms of tenancy. A sample form can be downloaded at: www.evict123.com/attyfee.pdf.
Question Five: I am an owner of a 12 unit building under rent control in the City of Los Angeles. I occupy one of the units in this building. One of the tenants has a lease signed by the previous owner. This tenant has blocked my egress with their vehicle on three separate occasions. I have a serious chronic medical condition and may need to get me vehicle out at a minute’s notice. After the third time I wrote this tenant a letter that he no longer has any right to park on the property. Is this legal and do I have grounds for eviction? Please let me know my rights as an owner. I am new to Los Angeles and do not know the codes.
Answer Five: If the tenant was assigned a space, you cannot stop the tenant from parking in that space. That would be a violation of the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. The tenant cannot, however, block your vehicle. If your tenant has been warned, simply have the car towed. The law does require that a sign be posted that unauthorized vehicles will be towed at the owner’s expense. This also could be grounds for eviction.
Question Six: If a Landlord in a rent-control building in the City of Los Angeles decides not to renew the annual lease of a Section 8 tenant, is the landlord required to give a 90 day notice?
Answer Six: Unfortunately the landlord does not have the right to terminate a Section 8 contract unless good cause exists. Landlords should be aware that once you agree to have a Section 8 tenant, you are now powerless to terminate that relationship. It is well documented the problems that landlords have dealing with the Section 8 program. Now that you cannot terminate this relationship, even greater consideration should be given before entering into this relationship.
Question Seven: Last month I gave a tenant a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. I did not act on it and now another month’s rent is due. Do I need to serve this tenant with a second notice in order to obtain a judgment for the current month rent?
Answer Seven: As long as you have not accepted rent, your first notice is still valid. It will be possible to obtain a judgment for all the rent owed in the unlawful detainer action. No further notice needs to be served.
Question Eight: Two years ago I had a tenant removed from my rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles. I did this in order to have my son move into that unit. I had to pay this tenant substantial relocation fees in accordance with the City’s ordinance. The application that I signed required my son to live there for at least two years and now that time has passed. Am I free to rent this unit to another tenant at market value?
Answer Eight: Unfortunately, you do not have the right to return this unit to market value. The ordinance requires that you lease the apartment at the same rate that the tenant was paying that vacated the unit. You are entitled to add the rent increases that were allowed by the City for the last two years. You should also be aware that you must file a Declaration of Occupancy form within three months of the vacancy, as well as the 1st and 2nd year anniversaries of the vacancy. If you fail to file these requested notices, you could be liable for a fee of $250 per day of delinquency.
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. 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, www.twitter.com/dennisblock or text him at (818) 570-1557.