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Legal Q & A – By Dennis P. Block, Attorney

Posted on 01. May, 2013 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Question One: My tenant has lived in my unit for over a year and is currently on a month to month tenancy. Recently, he brought in a dog, which is in violation of his lease agreement. I served a 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit. The notice has expired and the dog remains. Am I now required to serve a 60-day notice to vacate?

Answer One: A 60-day notice to vacate is not required. Since your tenant has not complied with the 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit, the next step would be to file an unlawful detainer action to evict your tenant.

Question Two: My property is underLos Angelesrent control. I am selling the property and I have documented the damage caused by one tenant, who is still in possession. My real estate agent is telling me that I must credit the buyer 100% of the deposit because that’s the law. It seems odd to me that I cannot offset the security for the damage this tenant has caused. Is this correct?

Answer Two: If you had fixed the unit, then you could claim that no security deposit remains. Since you are selling the unit, the deposit has to be transferred to the buyer.

Question Three: I have a Section 8 tenant who claims to have a walking disability. She has requested an electric chair from social services. She lives on the first floor in a two bedroom apartment. There are three steps to gain access to her apartment. She has told me that HUD will be contacting me to install anADAramp to her unit.

The tenant wants it added to the front of the building. Is there anything I can do to stop the installation of the ramp in the front of the building? Her unit has two entrances in the front and rear. I would be willing to share in the cost to install the ramp at the rear entry.

Answer Three: Under the American Disability Act, you have to allow your tenant reasonable accommodations due to her disability. Unless there is some other issue involved, insisting that the ramp be installed in the rear of the building would be consistent in granting a reasonable accommodation.

Question Four: Is it legal to charge an additional deposit if the tenant is moving in with a dog?

Answer Four: UnderCalifornialaw the maximum security for an unfurnished unit is two times the monthly rent. If you advertised that you would be charging a one month security, it would be legal to ask for an additional deposit if the tenant had a dog. This would not be the case if this was a service animal.

Question Five: I am evicting my tenant and this person has contested the action. He claims things are wrong with the premises. I have tried to access the unit to evaluate his claims but he refuses to allow me to enter. What should I do in this situation?

Answer Five: Many tenants, who are not paying rent, will complain about items wrong with their unit but then refuse the landlord access to make these repairs. In many cases this is the improper advice given to them by their unscrupulous law firms. To counter this, the following procedures should be taken:

  •  Serve a proper ACCESS notice, at least 24 hours in advance of entering the unit. The notice must state the date, time and reason for entering the unit.
  • Regardless of the tenant’s response, arrive at the unit at the appropriate time. The tenant does not have to be present.
  •  Knock on the door and if the tenant allows you access, then proceed into the unit.
  • If there is no response, you may use your passkey to gain entrance.
  •  If you do not have a key, you may engage the services of a locksmith to gain entrance to the unit. Do not change the locks, just access the unit.
  •  If the tenant opens the door and refuses entrance, you may call the police. Tell the police that their presence is necessary to “keep the peace”. You should take pictures and video of this incident. (Most smart phones allow you to do this.) Be sure to take the badge numbers and the names of the police that arrive. If the matter proceeds to court, this will put the tenant into an unfavorable position, as the police could be subpoenaed to testify.

Question Six: I have an applicant with poor credit. He is willing to allow his parent to be a co-signer on the lease. Do you recommend having this type of a relationship?

Answer Six: In general, if the person applying to lease the premises does not have sufficient credit, I would decline the applicant. Having co-signers can be problematic. If they are not local, clearly, you will not make the effort to sue them in another state. In addition, if you bring forth an eviction action, you cannot sue the co-signers in the unlawful detainer. Only persons who are unlawfully detaining the premises can be sued in unlawful detainer action. Co-signers are not tenants. This forces the landlord to have to sue the co-signers in a separate legal action.

Question Seven: I heard that the courts inLos AngelesCountyare consolidating. How will that effect eviction actions?

Answer Seven: InLos AngelesCountythere were 27 courts that accepted unlawful detainer filings. Due to budget restraints, they have now been consolidated to five courts. The locations areSanta Monica,Pasadena,Long Beach,Lancasterand Downtown Los Angeles. Expect longer wait times to have your case heard and longer time periods for court clerks to process paperwork. Law firms representing tenants are very pleased.

Question Eight: I have a rent controlled unit inLos Angeles. I always lease the parking in a separate lease agreement. I recently increased the rent on the parking space and received a letter from the Los Angeles Housing Department that this was an illegal rent increase. Is this true?

Answer Eight: LAHD has it wrong again! If you have a separate lease for the parking, that lease would not be subject to rent control, as it is deemed to be a commercial lease. You are free to raise the rent on the parking space to any amount. You are also free to serve a 30-day notice to remove the tenant’s right to park on your property.

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.  Download the Dennis Block FREE app for your Smartphone – “Landlord Legal Helper”.