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Legal Q & A by – Dennis Block

Posted on 01. Aug, 2019 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Question One: I have a rent control apartment in the City of Los Angeles. I have a tenant who brought in an extra person without my permission. What are my options?

Answer One: You have two options. Your first option would be to serve a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit, which would give your tenant three days to remove this additional person. If this person remains, you would be able to bring forth an eviction action to end the tenancy. Your second option would be to raise the rent. If this occupant has been there longer than 30 days, you are entitled to raise the rent 10%. 

Once you have knowledge that the person has established residency, you would need to increase the rent within 60 days. Failing to take action timely would prevent you from raising the rent. It should be noted that if this additional person vacates, you would be required to lower the rent. 

Question Two: I just approved a tenant to move into my building. On her application, she states that she has no pets. The rental agreement that she signed states that this is a no-pet building. She will be moving in next month. She has now presented me with a letter from a doctor that she has a disability and requires that she have a cat as an emotional support animal.  Obviously, she knew all along what she was going to do. Is there anything I can do to prevent this? I feel like the tenant truly took advantage of me.

Answer Two: Unfortunately, the law is designed to allow tenants to commit fraud in this type of situation. If you refused to allow the cat to occupy her unit, you could be subject to a lawsuit under the Disability Act. There could be another approach you can take. Many rental agreements state that misrepresentation on your application would be considered a non-curable breach of your rental agreement. If you could prove that she had the cat prior to filling out the application, you could declare that she is in breach of her rental agreement and terminate the tenancy. Expect protracted litigation if you choose this option. 

Question Three: I have a condominium in Redondo Beach where the lease will be expiring at the end of the following month. If I present them with a new lease and they refuse to sign, what are my options?

Answer Three: If you accept rent for the month following the end of the lease term, you would create a month to month tenancy. You may also inform the tenants that if they refuse to sign the new lease, you will expect them to vacate at the end of the lease term.  No formal Notice to Quit need be served. 

Question Four: I have a non-rent control unit in Los Angeles County. I have attended your lectures and you have advised that we immediately raise the rent to market level. Are there any limitations on the amount of the rent increase? The tenant is on a month to month agreement.

Answer Four: I have previously given incorrect advice on this matter and want to clarify the issue. In Los Angeles and Ventura County all landlords are limited to a 10 percent rent increase for the year. This law is based on a governmental order signed by the departing Governor Jerry Brown. Executive Order B-57-18 was issued on November 14, 2018. It states that there exists a State of Emergency due to wildfire disasters and the Aliso Canyon gas leak. It limits all rent increases to 10 percent until November 8, 2019.

Question Five: I just inherited a single family residence from my grandmother. There are tenants in possession, but I have no information as to what rent they pay or even their names. It appears to be a family, but they refuse to communicate with me even though I have shown them proper documentation that I am now the current owner. What should I do?

Answer Five:  I would immediately issue a 60 Day Notice to Vacate. It can be addressed to “All Occupants in Possession”. I would presume that you have examined your grandmother’s records and cannot find any information. I would also examine her bank records to see if you can determine that a monthly rent check was deposited. If so, you would be able to establish their names and the rental amount.  If that fails, you might want to use the services of an investigator to determine their names. I know that my firm can usually find the names of the occupants in just a few minutes. 

Question Six: I have a building under Los Angeles rent control. My tenant is on a two- year lease. Can I apply an annual rent increase after the first year is over?

Answer Six: Since you have entered into a two-year agreement with your tenant, you cannot raise the rent until the full two-year lease term has expired. 

Question Seven: I understand that unincorporated areas of Los Angeles County are now under rent control. How do I determine if my property is under this new ordinance?

Answer Seven: All units built prior to February, 1995 are subject to this ordinance. The ordinance. does not apply to a single family residence, condominiums or townhomes. Under the ordinance, owners are limited to a 3% rent increase and evictions require just cause.  To find out if a property is in unincorporated Los Angeles County, visit the Los Angeles County Registrar-Recorder/County Clerk website at: lavote.net/precinctmap and select “District Map Look Up By Address”. 

Question Eight: I have a tenant who recently was evicted. I obtained a judgment for over $4,000. What are the steps to collect my money?

Answer Eight: Of course you can always make a demand on your tenant to pay the judgment. If the tenant refuses, you will need to initiate a collection proceeding. Your first step is to locate assets which can be attached. Usually, this would require finding a place of employment or a bank account. If you have this information, you would need to have a writ of execution for money issued by the court. You would then need to prepare Sheriff Instructions which would then be submitted to the Sheriff’s Office. If you cannot locate assets, it is best to use the services of a collection agency. If you used a law firm to obtain the judgment, they probably will be able to locate assets if they exist. Most collection agencies and law firms work on a contingency basis where no fees are incurred unless the funds are collected. 

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”.

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