Legal Q & A
by Dennis P. Block, Attorney
Question 1: I have a building in a non rent controlled area. I served my tenant with a 60-day notice on May 15, 2012. The tenant is on a month-to-month tenancy. Am I entitled to collect the rent during this 60-day period? He will next owe rent on June 1, 2012.
Answer 1: Even though you have served a notice to vacate, the tenant is still responsible for the rent through the day the notice expires. In this case, the notice will expire on July 14, 2012. The tenant would be responsible to pay all of June’s rent and only 14 days rent for the month of July. You cannot take all of July’s rent and then refund the difference. If you accept rent past the expiration of the notice, you would be waiving your notice.
Question 2: I am renting a four-bedroom townhouse in Orange County. I like to screen my applicants very thoroughly as I am really trying to get the best tenants. Is it permissible to request that only immediate family members occupy my premises? I have not had success when renting to roommates.
Answer 2: You would not be permitted to do this. Your actions would be considered a clear case for discrimination.
Question 3: I recently purchased an apartment house in Los Angeles that is under rent control. The previous owner had a manager that received a free unit and a small salary. I would prefer to use my own family to do the management. Is there any way that I can legally remove him?
Answer 3: Since this person was receiving a free unit and a salary, he is not entitled to any protection under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance for the City of Los Angeles. You should just give him a notice that his services are terminated and that you request him to vacate the unit. The law does not require any specific time period in which the manager has to vacate. You could tell him to vacate in just three days.
Question 4: I have a family that has been in my rent controlled apartment for about 20 years. My property is located in Los Angeles. The family moved in with small children who are now adults. Recently, the husband and wife moved away and the children are attempting to pay the rent. I do not have any agreement with the children. Can I have them vacate or at least increase the rent to market value?
Answer 4: Since the children were the original occupants to the property, they have the same protection as the parents. You cannot force them to leave or raise their rent to market value.
Question 5: Is it legal to have a smoke-free building where the tenants cannot smoke, even in their own unit?
Answer 5: It is certainly legal to have a smoke-free building. In order to institute this you would need to have a provision in your rental agreement. You could also serve a Change of Terms of Tenancy to any tenant currently on a month-to-month rental. If you would like a copy of this form, you may download it at: www.evict123.com/nosmoke.pdf
Question 6: I have an applicant for a house I am attempting to rent. This person has poor credit but is willing to pay one year’s rent in advance plus a security deposit. Is this legal and do you think it is a good idea.
Answer 6: While the maximum security deposit a landlord can accept is equal to two months rent, a landlord can accept advanced rent payments if the period is for one year. On this basis, it would be legal to accept this advanced rent payment. Since you are getting your rent for the entire year, it would seem like a safe bet to lease to this person.
Question 7: I recently bought a rent controlled building. One of the tenants claims that the previous owner illegally raised the rent. He is now asking me to reimburse him for all the extra rent paid. He also wants his current rent to be lowered immediately. How should I handle this situation?
Answer 7: If this tenant has been charged an illegal rent increase, you would be required to lower his rent to the correct amount. You would not be liable, however, for any rent that was paid to the previous owner. It would be the previous owner’s responsible to pay back any illegal rent charged. You could also bring suit against the previous owner, as the value of the building is less, due to the loss of income.
Question 8: I have the most annoying tenant that you can imagine. She is always asking me to fix anything and everything that she can think about. Of course, this is a rent controlled unit and she pays very little rent. She now is requesting that I replace a burned out light bulb in a lighting fixture. Am I obligated to replace light bulbs?
Answer 8: Tell Ms. Annoyance that she will have a dark future, as a landlord does not have to replace light bulbs. This is considered normal maintenance and the tenant is responsible for replacing the bulbs within their unit.
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.