Question One: My tenant has just given me notice that he will be vacating in 30 days. He is currently on a one-year lease which will not expire until June, 2016. He informs me that since his place of employment is relocating, he has the right to have an early termination of the lease. Is this correct?
Answer One: Your tenant is incorrect. The fact that he is forced to relocate does not release him of his lease obligations. Inform your tenant that he is liable for the rent for the entire lease term or until such time that the premises are leased.
Question Two: My tenant, in violation of his lease agreement, obtained a pit bull. He has produced a note from a doctor that states that he has a medical need to have a comfort animal. I have a strict “no pet” policy for this building. In addition, my insurance company specifically prohibits pit bulls as a condition for obtaining insurance. What are my rights?Answer Two: Under the Federal and California Disability Act, a landlord must allow for a reasonable accommodation when a person has a disability. In this situation, however, you can refuse your tenant on the basis that the accommodation would not be reasonable due to the fact that your insurance would be cancelled. I would inform your tenant, in a written statement, that you will grant him a reasonable accommodation to have a dog, but that he cannot possess a pit bull.
Question Three: One of my units was broken into and another tenant in the building is demanding that I install a metal security door for her unit. When I told her that I would not be taking on that type of expense, she informed me that I would be liable for any stolen items.
Answer Three: Under California law, a landlord must have a deadbolt lock on the front door. Even though there was a break-in, you are not obligated to install a special security door. In addition, you would not be responsible for any loss to the tenant’s personal property. Your lease agreement should always contain a clause which requires the tenant to maintain personal property insurance.
Question Four: I just had a tenant sign a one-year lease agreement. Five minutes after he left, he is calling me to say that he has changed his mind. Is he still responsible for the lease?
Answer Four: There is no “cooling off period” for real estate transactions. Once the lease was signed, your tenant is fully obligated. As a practical matter, you might want to allow him to move on, for your own peace of mind.
Question Five: Two female tenants are complaining that a male tenant has been making advances to them and they are feeling uncomfortable. What are my obligations?
Answer Five: You should take complaints like this very seriously. You should immediately confront the offending tenant and follow it up with a written warning. Advise the female tenants that you have addressed the issue with the male tenant and that if any conduct like this occurs again, you will bring forth immediate eviction proceedings.
Question Six: I have a tenant who complains anytime she hears a noise. I am constantly getting phone calls. No one else in the building complains and it appears the noises are just common sounds. How should I handle this?
Answer Six: When a person lives in a multi-family building, it is expected that there will be a certain amount of noise. Advise your tenant that you have investigated her complaints and that the noise she is hearing does not give rise to being a nuisance. Suggest to her that she will have to be more tolerant or that she is free to give notice and move.
Question Seven: My tenant just had a New Year’s Eve party that got quite loud. They had hired a DJ, set up a bar in the pool area and topless women were seen in the jacuzzi. I am not a prude, but do you think I could evict the tenant for this incident? I normally do not get complaints about this tenant.
Answer Seven: In order to evict a tenant, the conduct would have to rise to the level of a nuisance. A one-time party, which got out of control, generally will not rise to the level of a nuisance. This would not be a good case for eviction.
Question Eight: I have a manager in a rent controlled unit in Los Angeles. I have decided that it would be best if we parted ways. Do I have the right to ask him to leave or is he protected under the rent control statute?
Answer Eight: If he was receiving a free apartment and a salary, in exchange for his services, you can immediately terminate his employment and ask him to vacate. If he was getting a deduction off his rent, then he is a protected tenant and upon termination, his tenancy would continue. He would merely not be entitled to the discount.
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. Get the NEW App for iPhone or Android phones. Search for “EVICT123“. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”. (Please note that for an in depth discussion on these questions, please listen to Dennis Block’s Podcast which can be heard at www.evict123.com or on the mobile app “evict123”.)