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Legal Q & A – by Dennis Block

Posted on 01. Jan, 2018 by in all

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Question One: Am I obligated to give a receipt to my tenant, when the rental payment is made by a personal check? I never receive a receipt when I pay my property taxes or if I make a mortgage payment.
Answer One: Under California law, a tenant is entitled to receive a receipt for a rental payment, regardless of how payment is made. If your tenant requests a receipt, you are obligated to provide one.

Question Two: I do not like my tenants to have my address. Is it a requirement in California for a landlord to provide a physical address where the tenants can mail their rent checks?  Also, can landlords simply require tenants to use electronic payments?
Answer Two: There is no requirement for rent checks to go solely to a physical address. You can direct rental payments to a PO Box, a rent collection box, or direct payment to a bank account. California law prohibits landlords from exclusively requiring tenants to make electronic payments. While that can be an option, it cannot be the sole manner of payment. One final point does need to be addressed. California does require landlords to give tenants a physical address where notices and legal process can be served on the landlord. 

Question Three: I own an apartment building in El Segundo. I am planning on giving a tenant a 60-day notice to quit. Am I required to state a reason on the notice? This tenant is devoid of housekeeping skills and I must ask her to leave. Lastly, can I email the 60-day notice to her?
Answer Three: Since your property is not under rent control, no reason need be stated in the notice. A 60-day notice cannot be legally sent by email. The law requires that you personally serve the tenant with the notice. If the tenant cannot be personally served, it is permissible to post one on the tenant’s door and mail one by first class mail. An alternate method of service for a 60-day notice is to send one by certified mail.

Question Four: If rent is due on the first of each month and the first is a Friday, can I serve a 3-day notice on Saturday, the following day? I have a bet with my wife as to who will have to clean out the garage. I told her that it is impermissible to serve a notice on a Saturday.
Answer Four: Hopefully, you have some worn out jeans, as you will be spending some time in your garage. A 3-day notice to pay rent can be served the day after it is due, regardless of whether that day is a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday.

Question Five: Do I need to provide a rental agreement in Spanish for Spanish speaking tenants? If so, where can I obtain one acceptable in California?
Answer Five: I do not recommend that you provide Spanish rental agreements to your tenants. The law requires that if you negotiate the terms of the lease in Spanish, then you must provide a Spanish rental agreement. If a Spanish rental agreement is used, all other notices must be written in Spanish, including rent increases and even a 3-day notice to pay rent. This makes it much more difficult to legally enforce the agreement, in that certified English translations must be provided to the court. Regardless of the language spoken by the applicant, negotiate in English and allow the tenant to have an interpreter. In this way, only an English rental agreement would be required.

Question Six: My property is located in Costa Mesa, California. The building was converted to condominiums three years ago. I have a tenant who has been in a unit for over seven years. What is the maximum percentage that I can raise the rent? He is paying way under the market level.
Answer Six: Orange County, at least for now, does not have any rent control. You are free to raise the rent to any level you choose. In addition, rent increases are not limited to once per year. Raise the rent whenever you deem it appropriate.

Question Seven: I recently bought a rent control building in the City of Los Angeles. One tenant did not have a rental agreement but did sign an estoppel which indicated that four persons were occupying the premises. I have realized that two more individuals have now moved into the apartment. Do I have grounds to evict?
Answer Seven: It would not be permissible to evict, as an estoppel is not a rental agreement. An estoppel is merely an acknowledgment of the tenancy but cannot be used in an eviction action. You can, however, raise the rent 10% for each additional person who has now joined the tenancy. You should serve a 60-day notice of rent increase within the first 60 days that these additional persons became residents.

Question Eight: My property is located in Lancaster. I have a tenant on a one-year lease that has expired and is currently on a month to month tenancy. I offered a new one year lease to my tenant, where I increased the rent 25%. The tenant signed the lease and made the first payment. He is now claiming that since the increase was over 10%, he was entitled to a 60 day rent increase notice and therefore he will not be paying the increase next month. What are my rights?
Answer Eight: Your tenant is confused as to the law. If you had served a rent increase notice, where the increase exceeded 10%, you would be required to serve a 60-day notice to change the terms of the tenancy. This is not what occurred in this fact situation. Once your tenant signed a lease, he is obligated to the terms of this contract. A 60-day notice is required only if the landlord is unilaterally imposing a rent increase. In this case, there was a mutual agreement.

 

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”.