This article was posted on Friday, Sep 01, 2023

Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California rent control laws followed by answers provided by eviction attorney Dennis Block.

Question One: I have a Section 8 tenant. The rent that I am receiving is far below the market for this single-family residence. I know that I can increase the rent, but I need to know what notices I should be serving.

Answer One: A single-family residence is not subject to rent limitations. If you raise the rent more than 10%, a 90-day notice will be required. If the rent raise is 10% or less, a 30-day notice will be required. In your situation you cannot make a unilateral rent increase. Under Section 8 guidelines, all rent increases must first be approved by the Section 8 Program. You should check with your Section 8 advisor.

Question Two: My tenant installed a washer and dryer in his unit without my knowledge. I only found out about this installation, as a leak from the washer caused damage to the unit below. What are my rights in this situation?

Answer Two: Clearly, your tenant is responsible for the cost of the repair due to the water damage. In addition, your tenant cannot make alterations to the premises without first obtaining your written consent. In this case, I would present the tenant with an invoice to pay for the damage that occurred. Thereafter, I would serve a 3-day notice to perform or quit, requesting the tenant remove the washer and dryer and to pay for the outstanding charges. If the tenant does not comply, you could commence an eviction.

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Question Three: My tenant is on Section 8. My tenant’s share of the rent is $212 per month. While I receive rent from Section 8, my tenant has not paid rent since April 1, 2023. This property is located in the city of Los Angeles. I understand that the city has initiated a threshold amount in which a 3-Day Notice to Pay rent can be served. This is a one-bedroom unit. How does this impact my ability to serve a 3-day notice?

Answer Three: The city of Los Angeles has created a nightmare situation for landlords with Section 8 tenants!  For a one-bedroom unit, the 3-day notice to pay rent must exceed $1747 for the total amount owed. In your case, you would need to wait 9 months before the total amount would exceed this threshold amount. Clearly the city is authorizing Section 8 tenants to legally avoid paying their rent. 

Question Four: My property is located in the city of Whittier, which does not have any rent control. I have a 6-unit building and would like to raise the rents, as all of the units are below market. What is the procedure for doing this?

Answer Four: All cities in the state of California have rent control! Statewide Rent Control became law on January 1, 2020. Assuming your building is over 15 years old, you are limited to a yearly rent increase. This year the CPI (Consumer Price Index) is 3.8%. The statute allows for yearly rent increases equal to 5% plus the CPI as calculated in April of each year. On that basis, you would be limited to an 8.8% rent increase.

Question Five: My tenant is incarcerated and therefore rent is not being paid. Would it be permissible to serve a Notice of Abandonment, as I do not believe that she will be coming back in the foreseeable future?

Answer Five: A Notice of Abandonment would not be the proper procedure, as the tenant has truly not abandoned the premises. You will need to file an unlawful detainer action. For serving purposes, it is permissible to serve a person while incarcerated. Most counties have a “lookup” website to locate inmates.

Question Six: My building is in the city of Los Angeles and was built in 1992 and therefore is not under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO). I have now learned that the city of Los Angeles has instituted a “Just Cause Ordinance”, which states that landlords cannot terminate a residential tenant unless good cause exists. I recently leased a unit to a young man who is constantly disrespectful to me and laughs when I explain the rules for the complex. He is on a month-to-month tenancy. What options do I have, under this new ordinance, to terminate the tenancy.

Answer Six: You are correct that Los Angeles now requires “good cause” to terminate a tenancy, even if the tenancy is not subject to RSO. This would even include a single-family residence. In your situation, however, you would be free to terminate the tenancy by serving a standard 30-day notice to quit. In the new ordinance, tenancies which are less than 6 months, do not require cause to evict. You should immediately serve a 30-day notice and proceed forward with an eviction if the tenant does not vacate. Remember, not to accept any rent past the expiration of the 30-day notice period. 

Question Seven: My tenant has just informed me that he has brought in an emotional support animal. He had proper documentation from a doctor. While my lease prohibits pets, I know that I legally have to allow him the right to have a dog. My problem is that he has selected a Pitbull. Pitbulls are specifically prohibited under the terms of my insurance policy and my agent informs me that if the dog remains, my insurance policy will be cancelled. Based on these facts, can I legally stop him from bringing in this animal?

Answer Seven: Under the California and Federal Disability Act, a landlord is required to allow for a “reasonable accommodation” when a person has a disability. The issue in this case is whether this would constitute a reasonable accommodation. I would suspect that most courts would view this as reasonable. On that basis, and in order to avoid a lawsuit, I would suggest that you explore other insurance companies.

Question Eight: I pay for the water for my 8-unit apartment house in Redondo Beach. My water bill has grown exponentially over the past two months. It is triple the amount. I suspect that one tenant, who has always been very rude to me, is just continually running water. Can I hold the tenant responsible for these additional charges?

Answer Eight: If you can prove that this tenant is the cause of the additional charges to your water bill, the tenant can certainly be held responsible. In addition, this could be considered “waste”, which is a legal term. Waste is defined as destruction, misuse, alteration, or neglect of the premises by one lawfully in possession. This could constitute grounds to evict. It is always wise to have a provision in your rental agreement that if utilities are supplied by the landlord, the tenant is charged with using it reasonably.  


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, Orange: 714.634.8232, San Diego: 619.481.5423 or by visiting Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, or text him at (818) 570-1557.  “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at or download the app “EVICT123”.