Below are questions asked by rental property owners regarding California rent control laws followed by answers provided by eviction attorney Dennis Block.
Question One: My rental listing indicates that this is a “no pet” building. I recently had someone inquire about my rental, asking if we accept pets. I immediately told her about my building policy. She has now presented a letter from a licensed physician which indicates her need for an emotional support dog as she has a mental and an emotional disability. Am I required to show her the apartment?
Answer One: You would be required to allow her to view the premises. If you do not, you would expose yourself to liability under both the California and Americans with Disabilities Act. Under a recent California law, there are specific requirements that a tenant must meet to qualify.
The following are now additional requirements that must be met:
- The health professional must hold a legitimate and active license. In the Emotional Support Animal (ESA) letter, they must include their license number, the effective date, their jurisdiction, and the type of professional license.
- The health professional must be licensed to provide professional services within the scope of the license, in the jurisdiction in which the documentation is provided.
- The health professional must establish a professional relationship with the patient at least 30 days before providing the ESA letter.
- The health professional must conduct a clinical evaluation of the client to assess their need for an emotional support pet.
Question Two: My property is located in Santa Ana and is subject to their new rent control ordinance. I am intending to have my son move into the unit and therefore I need to ask the tenant to vacate. Is there a requirement that I provide relocation assistance?
Answer Two: Assuming the tenancy is currently month-to-month, relocation is required. If you issue a notice to terminate a tenancy based on “no-fault” grounds, you must notify the tenant of the tenant’s right to relocation assistance. This is required, regardless of the tenant’s income status. The law requires that you must waive in writing the payment of rent for the final three (3) months of the tenancy.
Question Three: We had a tenant who moved out on November 30, 2022, without any notice. Due to him not giving proper notice, are we legally able to charge him for an additional 30 days? My new tenants moved in on December 19, 2022.
Answer Three: A tenant must provide 30 days’ notice of their intention to vacate. If they do not provide you with advance notice, you may deduct 30 days of rent from the deposit. However, in this case, you leased the unit 19 days later. As such, you cannot obtain a “double recovery” by charging your former tenant the full 30 days.
Question Four: We have a tenant in Fullerton residing in our condominium. She has a lease ending soon. Can we provide 30-day notice to vacate on the day the lease ends?
Answer Four: That would not be required. If you wish to have the tenant vacate at the end of the lease term, you just need to send her an informal letter explaining the lease will not be renewed and that she is expected to leave at the end of the lease term.
Question Five: My property is subject to the rent control ordinance for the City of Santa Ana. I understand that there is a form that I must give to new tenants. Where can I find this form?
Answer Five: Assuming you are subject to this ordinance, property owners are required to provide written notice of the Ordinance and tenants’ rights at the commencement of a lease or as part of any notice to increase rent. The notice shall be written in the language that the Owner and Tenant used to negotiate the terms of the Tenancy (e.g., Spanish, Chinese, Tagalog, Vietnamese and Korean), as well as English and in a form prescribed by the City. The notices can be found at the following website: https://tinyurl.com/mr362tmw.
Question Six: Yesterday, I received a phone call from the guarantor on one of my lease agreements. The guarantor, who is the mother of one of the two tenants, informed me that her daughter will no longer continue to live at the apartment. She went on to state that the couple had a falling out and that she will be vacating in 30 days. I know that the remaining tenant will have difficulty in paying the rent. Can I still hold the guarantor responsible if the ex-boyfriend ceases to pay?
Answer Six: If the premises were leased on a fixed term lease, the guarantor would only be responsible for the term of the lease. If the lease is currently month-to-month, the contractual responsibility of the guarantor would have terminated at the expiration of the lease. In the future, if you do have a guarantor on a lease, be sure that there is a provision that the guarantor is responsible until the unit has been totally vacated by all tenants, regardless of the lease term.
Question Seven: We have a tenant who cooked his pizza in the cardboard box inside the oven. This triggered a fire, and the sprinklers caused water damage to his unit and to the adjoining units. He does not have insurance. Who is responsible to pay for all the damage that incurred? What notice should I serve him to ask him to vacate?
Answer Seven: Assuming you can prove that he was the cause of the fire and damage, his conduct constituted nuisance and waste. Waste is a legal term which means any damage to real property by a tenant, which lessens the property value to the landlord. Clearly your tenant would be responsible for all monetary damages that incurred. In addition, an eviction action could be brought based on this conduct. In this case, you could serve him a 3-day notice to quit and then proceed with an unlawful detainer action. A separate civil lawsuit would be required to recover the monetary damages.
Question Eight: I want to increase the rent on my rent-controlled property in Santa Ana. How much can I raise the rent and how often?
Answer Eight: Currently, the allowable rent increase for the period effective September 1, 2022, through August 31, 2023, is 3%. SAMC Section 8-1998.1(a) states that only one rent increase is allowed in a 12-month period and cannot exceed the allowable rent increase in effect for that period.
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 www.evict123.com. Now, you can also read Dennis Block on Twitter, www.twitter.com/dennisblock or text him at (818) 570-1557. “Landlord Tenant Radio Weekly Podcasts can be heard at any time at www.EVICT123.com or download the app “EVICT123”.