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Legal Q & A- By Dennis Block

Posted on 01. Mar, 2020 by in all

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Question One: I am planning on leasing my single family residence. My property is located in San Diego. Am I under any restrictions with regard to the new statewide rent control law, AB 1482?

Answer One: A single family residence is exempt from restrictions pursuant to AB 1482. You are free to raise the rent to market level and good cause is not required to terminate a month to month tenancy. There is a provision under this new law which you will need to comply with. If your property is not subject to the Statewide Rent Control, specific language must be included in all rental agreements. If you have a tenant already in possession, this language must be included in a notice which is served on your tenant. This is the required language:

This property is not subject to the rent limits imposed by Section 1947.12 of the Civil Code and is not subject to the just cause requirements of Section 1946.2 of the Civil Code. This property meets the requirements of Sections 1947.12 (d)(5) and 1946.2 (e)(8) of the Civil Code and the owner is not any of the following: (1) a real estate investment trust, as defined by Section 856 of the Internal Revenue Code; (2) a corporation; or (3) a limited liability company in which at least one member is a corporation.

As a member, you may obtain this form from the Apartment Owners Association.

Question Two: I recently purchased a house that was occupied by the seller’s friend. This person never paid rent and refuses to leave. He told me that he would have me arrested for trespassing if I try to occupy the house. What are my options? My current lease is up soon and my family and I will have no place to live.

Answer Two: Even though you are the rightful owner of the property, you cannot use “self-help” to obtain possession of the property. You will need to go through an unlawful detainer process. This requires serving a 3- Day Notice to Quit and then filing the eviction lawsuit. It should be noted that the seller and this occupant are both liable for your losses, as a result of not being able to obtain possession at the close of escrow. 


Question Three:  Can a landlord rescind an executed rental agreement prior to the commencement of the lease term? The tenant has presented me with a laundry list of items to properly prepare her apartment. Most of the items are completely trivial and I can see that this tenant and I will not get along. I have not accepted any funds from her, except for a small deposit. Can I just inform her that I have changed my mind and give her back her deposit?

Answer Three:  Once the parties have executed the lease agreement, it becomes a binding contract that cannot be rescinded. You can simply decline to act upon her trivial requests and offer her the opportunity to cancel the contract. 

 

Question Four: I have tenants who have failed to pay the rent. I attempted to serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay the Rent or Quit. When I arrived at the premises, the tenants’ adult daughter answered the door. She told me that her parents were not home. I therefore handed her copies of the 3 Day Notice. I did not mail the notice. Will this be an issue?

Answer Four: You are allowed to serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit by substituted service. This occurs when the tenant you are serving is not home. You are permitted to serve the notice by leaving a copy with some person of suitable age and discretion. The law does require that you also mail a copy to your tenant. Since you did not mail, the service of the notice would be considered defective.  

 

Question Five: My property is subject to AB1482, Statewide Rent Control. I raised the rent 20% to $1,200, which became effective on September 1, 2019. I realize that I have to lower the rent as of January, 2020 to 5% plus the CPI. If I get the tenant to sign a one-year lease for $1,200, would this then be a legal increase?

Answer Five: The signing of a lease will not make this a legal increase. It is irrelevant that your tenant is expressly consenting to this rental amount. You will need to inform your tenant that effective January 1, 2020 the rent is reduced in accordance with the new state law. 

 

Question Six: I have a tenant who has been using my electricity in the garage to power his electric car. When I told him that this was not permitted, he advised me that I must allow this under California law. Is that true?

Answer Six: Your tenant is misquoting the law. The law allows a tenant the right to install an EV charging station, solely at the tenant’s cost. The landlord can require the tenant to maintain a liability policy for $1,000,000, naming the landlord as an additional insured. In addition, the tenant can be required to maintain a property insurance policy.  Lastly, the tenant is required to pay for the cost of electricity. In California, the cost is approximately $2 per day.

                                                                                                                      

Question Seven: I own a six unit building in Oxnard, CA. I have a one-year lease expiring next month. Based on the attitude of the tenant, I do not wish to renew. What notice should I serve to terminate the tenancy?

Answer Seven: Assuming your building received a Certificate of Occupancy within the last 15 years, you would just send the tenant an informal letter that the lease will not be renewed. Do not accept any rent beyond the expiration of the lease term. Unfortunately, if your building received a Certificate of Occupancy beyond 15 years, you are now subject to AB1482, Statewide Rent Control. Based on this statute, the lease is automatically converted to a month to month tenancy. You would need good cause to evict. It should be noted that good cause to evict is not required during the first year of the tenancy. On this basis, I recommend not leasing a unit on a one-year lease. If you lease for a shorter term, you are able to request that the tenant vacate at the end of the lease term.

 

Question Eight: I have a building subject to statewide rent control. An attorney told me that if I serve a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit that I am obligated to serve a 3-Day Notice to Quit after the first notice expires. This makes no sense. Is the attorney correct?  

Answer Eight: The attorney is only partially correct. Under AB 1482 if a Notice to Perform or Quit is served, a tenant will have three days to comply. If the tenant does not timely comply, the law requires a landlord to serve a 3 Day Notice to Quit before proceeding with an unlawful detainer. This additional requirement does not extend to a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. 

Law Firm Update: I am proud to announce that Attorney HG Long, formally with Fast Eviction, has joined our law firm. By adding Attorney Long to our team, we continue to make our firm the strongest for representing income property owners.  

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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