Question One: My rental is undervalued and I am planning to bring the rent up to market level. I am also planning on increasing the security deposit at the same time. What do I do if the tenant only pays the new rent and refuses to pay the increase in the security deposit?
Answer One: In a non-rent controlled unit, a landlord is allowed to raise the security deposit so that it will equal two times the monthly rent for an unfurnished unit. If you served proper notice, the tenant will be in breach of the rental agreement by failing to pay the security deposit. You will need to serve a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit. This form will demand the payment within three days. If payment is not received, you could initiate an unlawful detainer action.
Question Two: I had tenants evicted by the Sheriff’s office through a proper eviction action. The tenants moved to a friend’s house, which is on the same block. They have refused to pick up their belongings. In addition, they have left two inoperable vehicles on the property. I have contacted them numerous times over the past couple of weeks, but they just refuse to pick up their belongings. What should I do in this situation?
Answer Two: If the Sheriff performs the lockout through an unlawful detainer judgment, you must store the property for 15 days. You do not have to leave the personal property inside the unit. You are free to move it to any storage area including a garage that would be on the property. Technically, they would be responsible for any moving and storage costs. If the time has passed and the personal property remains, you may dispose of it assuming the overall value of the property is less than $700. If it is $700 or more, you will need to hold a public auction and publish the auction date in a local newspaper. With regard to the abandoned vehicles, you may call a local towing company. Show them the lockout paperwork that you received from the Sheriff’s office. They should then tow the vehicles away. The tenants will be responsible for the towing and storage charges.
Question Three: Well, here is a weird one. I have a tenant who also gets a garage as part of her tenancy. She has allowed a homeless man to set up a tent right in front of her garage door. I immediately called the police who then arrived at my property. While discussing the situation with the police, my tenant ran out and told the police that she had given him permission to live there. Incredulously, the police refused to act. What should I do?
Answer Three: Your tenant is creating both a public and private nuisance. I would deliver a written demand to your tenant to remove this person within two days. Advise her that you will commence an eviction action against her, for maintaining a nuisance. Property owners are now facing major issues due to the homeless problem in Southern California. One of my clients was forced to hire a private security company to patrol his property. It is unfair to place this burden on property owners. Our local governments need to do something.
Question Four: During an annual inspection I discovered that a tenant had deactivated a smoke alarm in his unit. He states that they go off too often and does not feel the need to have one. I told the tenant that the smoke detector will need replacing. How do I handle this situation and who bears the cost of the replacement.
Answer Four: Under California law, a smoke detector must be in every bedroom and one in the hallway. Your tenant does not have the right to disregard this law. In addition to the possibility that your property could be destroyed, the lives of other tenants could be impacted. With regard to the cost, it would be the owner’s responsibility to install a working smoke detector.
Question Five: Is there a form to notify the tenant that I will not be renewing a lease? This tenant was on a two-year lease which expires in two months. This tenant has been very demanding and has a poor attitude. I really do not want to continue with this relationship.
Answer Five: A fixed term lease expires on its own terms. No notice is required. I would, however, send this tenant an informal letter explaining that the lease is terminating and will not be renewed.
Question Six: I served a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit on tenant. Within the three-day period, I received a check for the full amount requested. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the check was postdated until the end of the month. Is this considered to be complying with the 3 day notice and how should I handle this?
Answer Six: If you served a 3 Day Notice, the tenant has only three days to pay the rent. Tendering a postdated check does not constitute payment. I would make a photocopy of the check and return it to the tenant. Thereafter, I would commence the eviction as the tenant did not timely comply with the notice.
Question Seven: I have a tenant that always calls with plumbing problems in the late afternoon or on weekends. The problems are legitimate, but they are upset that I use a handyman to repair the problems as opposed to a plumber. They are telling me that only a licensed plumber will be allowed into their unit. Can they do this?
Answer Seven: For routine plumbing problems, the law does not require that you have a licensed plumber. The owner or a handyman can do the work. If they deny access, you could terminate the tenancy.
Question Eight: I have a friend from out of town that I allowed to live in my vacant unit. She was supposed to leave after a couple of weeks. It is now over a month and she just refuses to get out. I was planning on leasing this unit and she has now frustrated my plans. Can I just call the police to remove her?
Answer Eight: Two things have happened here. Clearly, she is no longer your friend. Secondly, since she has occupied the unit longer than 30 days, a tenancy at will has been created. You will need to serve her with a 30 day notice to quit and proceed with an eviction if she refuses to comply.
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”.