Question One: I own a rent controlled building in the City of Los Angeles. I have a tenant that signed a one-year lease and currently is on a month to month tenancy. When the tenancy was initiated, he never paid the security deposit. He promised he would pay me after the first month, but that has never happened. I really do not like this tenant and would love to have him vacate. Have I waived my rights to demand payment of the security deposit and would that be a ground for eviction?
Answer One: Payment of a security deposit is a material provision of a lease. The fact that the lease is beyond its original term, does not excuse the obligation to pay the security deposit. You should serve on your tenant a Notice to Perform or Quit. If the tenant does not pay the security deposit within the three days, an unlawful detainer action could be filed.
Question Two: I have a tenant that wants to break his lease. I use the AOA lease and there is no provision as to how much penalty the tenant will incur for this early termination. How should I handle this situation?
Answer Two: It would be improper to impose a contractual penalty for an early termination. The law specifically dictates how this situation should be handled. Your tenant is responsible for the entire lease term or until the premises are leased. Landlords are required to use their best efforts to find a replacement tenant. Once the premises are leased, your tenant’s obligation would cease.
Question Three: I recently purchased an eight unit apartment building in Pasadena. All of the tenants are on month to month rental agreements. The agreements are very similar to the one I normally use. The only difference is that I like to include a separate page that lists the house rules. What is the best way to implement these additional rules?
Answer Three: The easiest way to adopt these rules would be to prepare a Change of Terms of Tenancy form and attach your house rules. This form is available from the AOA. The form should inform the tenants that after 30 days, the attached rules will become part of their tenancy. The notice should be handed to the tenants, or if they cannot be located, you may post it on their door and mail one by first class mail.
Question Four: I have a tenant who paid only a portion of the rent for this current month. Am I permitted to immediately serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit, or do I have to wait until the following month?
Answer Four: A landlord is permitted to serve a 3-Day Notice, anytime rent is owed. You do not have to wait until the following month. You should immediately serve the notice and commence an unlawful detainer action if the rent is not paid. Waiting until the following month, will only delay the process.
Question Five: I have a tenant whose check was recently dishonored. He did finally pay with a cashier’s check. I really do not want to accept any further personal checks from this guy. Can I demand cash or cashier’s checks only?
Answer Five: Under the law, you can serve written notice that you will only accept cash or cashier’s checks, due to the fact that the tenant’s check was dishonored. The law limits this to a three month period only. [Use AOA’s form #138, which can be downloaded by members for FREE at www.aoausa.com]
Question Six: I have a rent controlled building and one tenant is paying far below market value. Is it legal to offer the tenant money to move without legal repercussions?
Answer Six: It is perfectly legal to offer tenants money to vacate a unit. Some jurisdictions require that special notice be served upon your tenant. A formal contract should be prepared, so that you would be able to force the tenant to vacate, if there is a change of mind.
Question Seven: I have a single family house that I lease in the City of Anaheim. My tenant has been with me for over two years and I would like to terminate his tenancy. Do I need to provide a reason to this tenant to terminate the tenancy?
Answer Seven: Orange County does not have rent control. On this basis, no reason needs to be given to your tenant. Since the tenant has been in the unit in excess of one-year, a 60 Day Notice to Quit must be issued. This form is available from the AOA.
Question Eight: My building is located in Riverside, California. One of the tenants is a hoarder. There are objects stacked up to the ceiling in every part of the unit. One of the bedrooms is completely inaccessible. What is the best way to handle this situation?
Answer Eight: Hoarding, or excess clutter, is both a safety and health hazard. My suggestion would be to send the tenant a warning letter that this situation must be remedied. Put a time limit in your letter. If the tenant does not make dramatic improvement within your time table, I would then issue a 60-day notice to quit.
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”.