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Legal Q & A – by Dennis Block

Posted on 01. Dec, 2016 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Question One:  We attended your seminar on Tenant Screening at the L.A. Convention Center as we are members of the AOA. Thank you very much for your seminar which gave us highly useful tips to screen probable tenants. I will be glad to use your services for us and for my friends because of your professionalism.

We have a situation now where we received an application from a company to rent our single family house in Long Beach. We heard in your talk that when renting to a company, be careful because there are some risks involved. Can you please give us clues as to what we need to look for and what we need to avoid from corporate tenants in renting our property. We appreciate your assistance in this matter. Thanks a lot.
Answer One:  Thank you for your kind words. The inherent problem with leasing to a company is that they can easily go out of business. At the minimum, you should have the actual occupant listed as a tenant and run a full credit check on this individual.

Question Two: A tenant brought in a dog without our approval. The lease states that animals are subject to our approval and there are certain breeds that we do not accept.  This dog appears to be a pit bull.  The tenant is claiming it is a “service animal”.  How should I handle this? Can we give them a “3-Day to Cure”?

Answer Two: Your first task is to demand that the tenant show you a letter from a medical professional which states that the tenant has a disability and is in need of a service animal. If he does not have one, issue a 3-day Notice to Perform or Quit.  If the letter is produced, you may still object to having a pit bull on the premises if your insurance would be affected.

Question Three: My building is located in San Diego and I will be tenting for termites. How much notice do we have to give the tenants, as they will need to relocate for at least three days? Also, do I have to provide them with a food allowance?
Answer Three: I would give them at least 10 days’ notice. No food allowance is required. You should check the terms of your lease agreement to see if this issue is covered.

Question Four: I lease a house in Palmdale. The lease was coming up for renewal so I offered the tenant a new one-year lease with a 15% rent increase. The tenant signed the lease, but now states that he does not have to pay the increase as he was entitled to a 60 day notice to increase the rent. Is he correct?
Answer Four: Your tenant is confused and mistaken. If a landlord is going to serve a rent increase which exceeds 10%, a 60-day rent increase notice is required. In this case, no rent increase notice was served. The parties signed a new lease and your tenant is responsible to pay the amount stated in this new lease.

Question Five: My son has been living with me in my home. He pays no rent and has become very disrespectful. I want him to leave, but he refuses. I called the police but they informed me that this was a civil matter. How do I get this child out of my life?
Answer Five: Since your son does not pay rent, he is considered a “tenant at will”. The law requires that a 30-day notice to quit be served. If he does not vacate within that 30-day period, you would need to commence an unlawful detainer action to evict him.

Question Six: I just recently lost an eviction case and I am devastated.  A tenant brought in an extra person in violation of the lease agreement. I served the tenant with a 3 Day Notice to Perform or Quit which required the additional person to vacate within three days. When the matter went to court, the tenant showed rent receipts that he had paid the rent, after I served the notice. The judge ruled that since I accepted rent that my case was ruined. I do not understand.  This case was not about nonpayment of rent. Why could I not collect the rent?
Answer Six: This is a common mistake that landlords make. Acceptance of rent, after the service of the notice, renders it void. Even though the subject of the eviction did not involve rent, you cannot ask a tenant to vacate and still collect rent. You will need to issue another 3-Day Notice to Perform or Quit and avoid taking any further rent after the notice expires.

Question Seven: I have an applicant that wants me to accept a Section 8 voucher. Am I obligated to accept this applicant?
Answer Seven: Currently, you have no obligation to accept a Section 8 tenant. Most of my clients feel that dealing with Section 8 requirements are too burdensome. In rent control jurisdictions, you have no way of terminating the tenancy unless it is for cause. Many clients report that the wear and tear on the unit is far greater than regular tenancies.

Question Eight: I heard that it will be tougher to find out if applicants have had prior evictions based on a new law. I rely on the eviction reports that I get from the AOA. How will this law affect my ability to screen tenants?
Answer Eight: In addition to a credit check, it is imperative to do an eviction check for each applicant. There is a new law, however, which will limit the accuracy on an eviction report. California Code of Civil Procedure Section 1161.2 states that unless the landlord prevails within 60 days, the eviction will be permanently sealed. These cases will not be displayed on an eviction report. This is a terrible new law. This will only encourage tenants to delay their cases, so that even if they are evicted, they will be free to commit the same acts against future landlords.

 

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”.

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