Question One: I recently purchased a rent controlled apartment building in the City of Los Angeles. Some of the units have a rental agreement for the apartment and a separate agreement for their parking. Is there any advantage to this type of arrangement?
Answer One: This is very advantageous for the landlord. Since the parking space has a separate agreement, it is considered a commercial lease and not subject to rent limitations. You are free to raise the rent on the parking space or you could withdraw the tenant’s right to park on the premises.
Question Two: I have a tenant who vacated my unit. The unit was left with much damage including missing cabinet doors and damage to the hardwood floors. I prepared a security deposit itemization where I supplied repair estimates for these items, deducting those sums. My tenant is suing me claiming that I never did the work and have since sold the property. Am I entitled to deduct these items from the security deposit?
Answer Two: You were absolutely correct in deducting the cost of these items from the security deposit. The fact that you did not actually repair the items, does not absolve the tenant from his obligations. An analogous scenario would be if your car was damaged in a traffic accident. The fact that you did not make the repairs, does not allow the negligent driver to escape his financial responsibilities.
Question Three: I have a building inRedondo Beachthat I have just begun to manage. I would like to raise the rents on all of the tenants. No rent increase has been served in several years. What is the procedure and are there any limitations on the rent that I can charge?
Answer Three:Redondo Beachis a civilized city, as there are no rent control statutes. As such, you are free to raise the rent to any amount. If you are raising the rent in excess of 10%, you will need to serve a 60 day notice of the increase, otherwise it would be a 30 day rent increase notice. When serving this notice you must either hand it to the tenant, or if the tenant is not available, you may post one on the tenant’s front door and mail one by first class mail.
Question Four: I am refinancing my apartment building and the lender is requiring to view the units and take pictures. One of my tenants is refusing to allow the appraiser to take pictures, claiming that she has expensive items and does not want them photographed. How should I handle this?
Answer Four: You have every right to have an appraiser view your units and take pictures. Serve the tenant with a “Notice to Enter the Dwelling”. You must give at least 24 hour notice, stating the date, time and reason for entering the unit. If your tenant refuses access, this would be grounds for an eviction.
Question Five: I recently had an applicant sign a month to month agreement and pay the first month’s rent and a security deposit. Two hours later, this person calls me and states that she will not be taking the unit and wants her money back. What are my rights in this situation?
Answer Five: Once a lease is signed, the parties are responsible. There is no “cooling off” period. You should send your tenant a security deposit itemization where you deduct for one month’s rent. If you lease the unit during this month, the applicant would be entitled to a corresponding refund.
Question Six: My boss just closed escrow on a duplex located in the City of Los Angeles. The current tenants are not paying market rent. They are approximately $300 below market value. What are his options to raise the rents?
Answer Six: Los Angelesis not a civilized municipality as your units are subject to rent control. Currently, you would be limited to raise the rent 3% if there had been no rent increase in the last year. Another option would be to entice your tenants to vacate by offering relocation assistance. If you can come to an agreement with your tenants to vacate, you would be free to raise the rent to market value for any new tenant.
Question Seven: My rent is due on the first of each month. I served my tenant with a 3-day notice to pay rent on January 2nd when I had not received the rent. When I attempted to file an eviction, an attorney told me that my notice was defective and I had to reserve the tenant with another notice. Did I receive correct information?
Answer Seven: You did receive correct information. You certainly can serve a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit if then tenant has not paid the rent when due. There is no “grace period” under the law. In your situation, January 1st is a national holiday. As such, the due date was extended until January 2nd which means the first day to serve a 3-day notice was January 3rd. You should immediately issue this tenant a new 3 day notice.
Question Eight: I had two tenants rent a unit last year on a month to month tenancy. One of the tenants gave me written notice that he is vacating and wants his portion of the security deposit returned. I have refused and he is threatening to take me to court. What are my rights?
Answer Eight: You leased the property to a partnership. Once the partnership vacates, you would have to account for the security deposit. Since the premises are still occupied, you have no obligation to account for the security deposit. You should inform this tenant to get his contribution from the remaining roommate.
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”.