Question One: I have a tenant who states that he and his roommate are getting sick from mold. He happened to call me on the day rent is due and refuses to pay until I have this remedied. I did have a leak in this unit, which I immediately fixed by removing part of the ceiling and allowed it to dry out. Everything has been patched and repainted. Can he withhold rent while I research and arrange to have a mold company check the premises?
Answer One: A tenant is allowed to withhold rent if he has made the owner aware of a situation and allowed the owner a reasonable period of time to correct the problem. In this case, the tenant has not allowed you a reasonable period of time. I would suggest to immediately schedule a mold company to inspect the premises. The company will take air samples to see if dangerous levels of mold exist. Usually, these tests come out negative and the tenant’s claim of being ill from mold will be dismissed. At the same time, I would serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.
Question Two: A tenant emailed to say his window is broken. He doesn’t know who broke it. The owner wants to know if he is obligated to pay for the repair/replacement of a new window, or can he make that a tenant’s responsibility?
Answer Two: Unless the landlord can prove that the tenant or a guest caused the damage, it would be the landlord’s responsibility to replace or repair the window. If the broken glass is lying outside the unit, it is a fair indication that the glass was broken from inside the unit, which would make it the tenant’s responsibility.
Question Three: I have a tenant who wants to end the lease early. I had informed him that I would use my best effort to get a new tenant to replace him. I explained that he would be responsible for the rents until the end of the lease or until the unit is leased. While looking for a new tenant, can I advertise the place for a higher rent than what the current tenant is paying? Rents have been going up in the area.
Answer Three: A tenant who vacates early is responsible to pay rent until the end of the lease term. The law imposes an obligation on the landlord to use his or her best effort to lease the premises during this time period. If the landlord attempts to lease the premises at a higher rate, then the tenant is absolved from further liability. On another note, if the premises cannot be leased for the current rental amount and a lesser amount is accepted, then the original tenant would be responsible for the difference.
Question Four: Is there a limit on how many comfort animals a tenant can have? A family moved into my unit and had a dog and cat which they claimed are emotional support animals. Since they supplied a doctor’s note I was forced to allow them into my building. Now they have presented me with a note from the same doctor who has stated that the tenant’s daughter has an emotional need to have a rat. When does this stop?
Answer Four: The American Disability Act has been bastardized by disingenuous tenants and doctors who care little about the truth. Landlords are generally powerless to dispute these notes, as the cost to defend a lawsuit would be prohibitive. It was recently reported that an airline allowed a passenger to fly with a peacock, based on a doctor’s note! In most jurisdictions there is a limit of three dogs and three cats.
Question Five: Dennis, this is one for a reality TV show. My manager has a son who is homeless. This person took up residency in the utility room of my apartment building. The manager demanded that her son vacate, but he refused. The police in Cudahy were called and they refused to remove him. They told her that she would need to do an eviction. This is crazy. What is your suggestion?
Answer Five: This is clearly a trespass situation and the police should have arrested him. I would call the police station and talk to a superior officer. Keep going up the chain of command until you find someone with some common sense. If this becomes fruitless, you will need to file an eviction action. This type of case is called a Forcible Detainer.
Question Six: I have a rent control building in Los Angeles. One of my tenants is violating the agreement by having an additional person occupy the premises. What is the type of notice I should use and what wording is suggested?
Answer Six: The proper form is a Notice to Perform Covenants or Quit. In the form you must state what provision of the rental agreement is being breached. You must also describe what the tenant is doing to violate the contract and what actions are required to remedy the situation. You must list times when this occurred and witnesses who observed the additional person. In Los Angeles a tenant can have another person occupy the unit up to 30 days. Thereafter, it is considered a breach of the agreement.
Question Seven: I have an apartment in San Diego. Under the new law regarding the use of recreational marijuana, is it still permissible to have a “no smoking” policy in my building?
Answer Seven: Cigarette and marijuana are now both considered legal substances. Nothing prevents an owner from establishing a “no smoking” building. Every lease should contain a provision that smoking is prohibited anywhere on the premises.
Question Eight: I have a lease agreement on a house in Vista, California. The house has burned down under usual circumstances. Do I have to serve any paperwork on the tenant to end the tenancy?
Answer Eight: Under California law, destruction of the premises automatically terminates the tenancy. No written notice need be given. You do have the obligation to send a written itemization regarding the disposition of the security deposit, within 21 days from when the tenancy terminated.
Note: I will be speaking at the AOA Million Dollar Trade Show at the Long Beach Convention Center at 9 AM on May 15, 2018. This will be one of the most important topics of the decade! “The Disaster of Rent Control is Coming- What You Can Do to Protect Yourself”
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: 714.634.823, San Diego: 619.481.5423 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”.