This article was posted on Saturday, Nov 01, 2014

Question One:  My tenant requested an inspection of his unit after serving his intention to vacate. We agreed on a specific date and time. I arrived timely but the tenant was not home. He never even called to state that he could not make the appointment. He is now calling and wants to reschedule. He is to be vacating in two days. Am I obligated to set up another appointment?
Answer One: There is no obligation on your part, at this late stage, to set up another appointment. Once the tenant vacates, you will have 21 days to send the tenant a written itemization with regard to the disbursement of the security deposit.

Question Two: I have a rent controlled unit in Los Angeles. The tenant is on a one-year lease which will expire at the end of next month. I have had trouble with the tenant in the past and I really do not want to extend the tenancy. What is the proper format to inform the tenant that I will not be renewing and that she must vacate at the end of the lease term?
Answer Two: Sorry to inform you, but since this is a rent controlled unit, you cannot just terminate the tenancy at the end of the lease term. The tenancy cannot be terminated unless you have good cause, as enumerated by the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. In effect, every tenancy becomes a life estate under the rent control statute. With this in mind, landlords should screen their applicants very carefully.

Question Three: I own a house in Culver City that is tenant occupied. The house has a pool with a solar heater. The solar heater never worked that well, so last month I removed it. The tenants are claiming that they are entitled to have a heated pool and are demanded that I install a heater. What are my rights?
Answer Three: If you leased the premises with a pool heater, it would be your responsibility to maintain this appliance. On this basis, you should purchase a new heater. If the tenant is currently on a month to month tenancy, you could serve a 30-day notice to change the terms of the tenancy. This notice would inform the tenant that effective in 30-days, the premises will no longer have a heated pool.

Question Four: I recently had a couple attempt to rent one of my apartments. I asked if they were married or if they intended to have children. I was just making small talk with them. They seemed very surprised by my questions. I have now just received a letter from Fair Housing claiming that I violated their rights. Am I in trouble?
Answer Four: Those questions are clearly improper and could subject you to a discrimination lawsuit. You should seek the services of a discrimination attorney who can guide you into settling this matter in a prompt fashion.

Question Five: I have a rent controlled property in the City of Los Angeles. One tenant was leased the unit without a garage. When a garage became available, I told this tenant that they could use it on a temporary basis. I now need the garage for another tenant and this tenant refuses to give up the space. What should I do?
Answer Five:I  would serve a 30-day notice demanding the tenant refrain from parking in the garage space. If the tenant continues to park in this space, you could initiate eviction proceedings or you might have the vehicle towed, assuming you have the proper signage in your parking area.

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Question Six: In over 30 years of leasing property I have never come across this problem. One of my tenants cooks food that really smells bad. It permeates the entire floor. I have tenants complaining that it is difficult to walk down the hallways. What should I do?
Answer Six: Have a discussion with your tenant. There might be a way to ventilate the kitchen with an additional fan. If this does not help, tell your tenant that they must stop cooking this type of food which creates this odor or you will be forced to terminate the tenancy based on a nuisance.

Question Seven: I own a duplex. I live in one of the units and the other is leased to an attorney. I received a notice of default on my property as I was behind in my mortgage payments. My tenant found out about this default and now refuses to pay the rent. He claims that rent payments are suspended if I am in default on my mortgage. What are my rights?
Answer Seven: Your tenant is clearly mistaken. Rent payments are owed, until such time as you are not the rightful owner of the property. In many cases, owners in default recover or loan modifications are granted. There is no law that allows your tenant to take advantage of this situation.

Question Eight: I rented a unit to a tenant who signed a 1-year lease. The lease will commence at the beginning of next month. The tenant now informs me that he had a change of heart and wants his deposit back. He claims that since he did not have possession of the apartment and had not even been given the keys, that he is allowed to cancel the lease. If this true?
Answer Eight: Your tenant is clearly wrong. Once the lease was signed, your tenant was obligated for the entire year. You were in your rights not to give him possession or to give him the key, as the lease commencement date had not occurred. You should send him a security deposit itemization form explaining that he is responsible for the entire year or until such time as the unit is leased.

Dennis Block, Esq.—323 938-2868 (Office)— 323 938-6069 (fax)— 
5437 Laurel Canyon Blvd., 2nd Floor, Valley Village, CA 91607
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