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Legal Q & A By-Dennis Block

Posted on 01. Sep, 2020 by in all

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Question One:  We have a tenant whose parking space is blocking the trash bin. Since the 80’s, there hasn’t been a problem with trash being picked up until now. He intentionally parks his car so that trash doesn’t get picked up, in hopes of getting a different space. There are no available spaces at this time. Should I be forced to serve him a notice every week to move his car? My building is in West Los Angeles, but not under the Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Answer One: I would tell your tenant that if the car is not moved on trash day, that he will be served with a 30 day change of terms of tenancy, which will remove his right to park on the premises. If he continues to park after the service of the 30 day notice, you may have his vehicle towed.

Question Two: I understand that AB 1482, Statewide Rent Control, does not apply to Section 8 tenants. My building is located in Orange County. Does that mean that my Section 8 units can be raised to market level and that my other units are limited to 5% plus the CPI (Consumer Price Index)? 

Answer Two: You are correct that Section 8 units do not fall under Statewide Rent Control. Unfortunately, to obtain a rent increase under Section 8, you would first need to get approval from your Section 8 advisor. You cannot independently raise your tenant’s rent. 

 

Question Three: I was under the impression that AB1482 (Statewide Rent Control) prevented landlords from terminating tenancies. So if I have a tenant on a lease or month-to-month, am I able to give a 60 day notice to vacate once the lease ends?

Answer Three: Properties subject to AB 1482 require that you have “good cause” in order to terminate the tenancy. That is not the case, if the tenant is in the first year of his tenancy. On that basis, you are free to terminate the tenancy by serving a 30 day notice to quit. After the first year, the landlord must have “good cause” as enumerated by the state code. 

 

Question Four: My tenants have not paid rent since March, 2020. They each sent me a letter from their employer saying they are not working. That was in March. I think some of them are back at work. Can I ask them to pay rent now?

Answer Four:  You did not mention the location of your property. In general, tenants cannot withhold rent unless they have an inability to pay rent due to the pandemic. If your tenants have returned to work, you, clearly, can ask for rent for this current period. Be advised that before issuing a 3-day notice to pay rent, you will need clear evidence that your tenant has the ability to pay rent at this time.

 

Question Five: My tenant is telling me that he will not pay rent in August due to COVID-19. He mentioned that he was nice to pay all other months. What legal actions are available for landlords to avoid tenants from taking advantage of this situation? Are landlords allowed to start an eviction? I heard LA County has an eviction moratorium until Sept 30th, but that the city of Alhambra moratorium ended May 31, 2020. Which one is the right date?

Answer Five: Most jurisdictions, L.A. County included, do not require that the tenants provide documentation to the landlord of their inability to pay rent. This allows tenants to take advantage of the situation. If the landlord can establish that the tenant’s failure to pay rent was not due to the pandemic, a 3 day notice can be served and an eviction lawsuit can be filed with the court. At the present time, the tenant cannot be formally served with the lawsuit, but the landlord will establish priority over lawsuits filed thereafter. In reference to your second question, in Los Angeles County if a local municipality moratorium expires, then that jurisdiction is subject to the County ordinance. At this point, protection is extended through September 30, 2020.  

 

Question Six: I’d like to thank you for your lawsuit which seeks to overturn the Emergency Rules as promulgated by the California Judicial Council. My tenant has not paid rent since January, 2020. I am now owed over $40,000. My tenant is merely using COVID-19 as an excuse to avoid his financial responsibilities. I am literally powerless to enforce my contract rights. Can you please advise how your suit is going?

Answer Six: My suit was based on the issue that the Judicial Council did not have the legal authority to create laws. The Emergency Rules prevents all California courts from issuing a summons in an unlawful detainer action or from taking a default. This is in direct contradiction to California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1166 e and 1169. Only the Governor, during a State of Emergency, and our State Legislators have the ability to create or change existing laws. At the time of the writing of this column, my suit is now pending with the California Supreme Court. We are awaiting a decision. Updates on the lawsuit can be obtained on my website at: www.evict123.com/protect-our-rights.

 

Question Seven:  What is the process for showing my property to prospective buyers during this time? Does this change if we are in the middle of an eviction action?

Answer Seven: Even though Civil Code Section 1954 gives the landlord the right to show the premises to prospective purchasers, that right is suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic. A tenant would clearly be justified in refusing strangers to enter the unit. As an alternative, I would suggest that you have the tenant video the unit. Of course, the tenant might refuse due to the eviction action. 

 

Question Eight: I understand that tenant’s rent can be deferred for one year due to the pandemic. During this year, are my mortgage payments, property taxes, regulatory fees, trash service fees and my responsibility to maintain my units suspended for this same time period? 

Answer Eight: Our politicians have decided that the financial burdens of the pandemic shall be placed on the shoulders of 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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