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Legal Q & A – by Dennis Block, Attorney

Posted on 01. Aug, 2014 by in all, Magazine Articles

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Question One: I own a rental unit inCulver City. My tenant’s one-year lease will expire on August 31, 2014.  He has not been the best tenant and I would like him to vacate. Do I serve a 30 or a 60-day notice in this situation?
Answer One: Actually, no notice is required. The lease terminates on its own terms. As long as you do not accept rent for September, 2014, the tenancy is terminated. If the tenant remains in possession, you can immediately bring forth an unlawful detainer to evict him from the property.

Question Two: I am a real estate broker and my client is selling his house. The tenants in possession are refusing to move out and have refused to let potential buyers view the premises. They have been living there for several years. So my questions would be:

  • Can I give them an eviction notice and force them to move out? If so, how much      time should I give them?
  • Can I  enforce my right to let potential buyers view the house?

    Answer Two: Assuming the tenants are on a month to month tenancy, you would serve a 60-day notice to vacate. No reason need be stated in the notice. In order to show the premises to potential buyers, you would serve a 24 hour written notice to access the dwelling. This form can be obtained from the AOA. The tenants do not have to be present. Even if the tenants tell you that they will not let you in, show up at the appointed time. You may use your passkey to gain entrance or use the services of a locksmith. If they are home and deny access, this would be grounds for eviction.  

Question Three: We have one tenant that has leased our apartment for the last 13 years. She is now complaining of pests and states that we are responsible to take care of them. She has a cat and no other tenant has pests of any kind. There is a total of seven units. The common areas are well maintained and the units were refurbished and clean before each tenant moved in.  Who is responsible for this problem?
Answer Three: Under the Civil Code, the landlord is clearly responsible to eradicate these pests. A pest control company should be called immediately to prevent this problem from spreading to other units.

Question Four: I own an apartment building inSan Diego. I have a tenant who has been with me for the last 20 years. This tenant pays the least amount of rent. What is the maximum percentage of a rent increase that I can give to this tenant?
Answer Four: San Diego is a civilized place to own property, in that there is no ordinance governing rent control. You are not limited in the determination of a rent increase. UnderCalifornia law, if you are increasing the rent in excess of 10%, you would need to serve a 60-day written notice.

Question Five: I recently had a tenant vacate my unit. Within 21 days I sent her a security deposit itemization form where I deducted $360. The deductions were for failing to return the garage remote control, cleaning and damage to the unit. I noticed that she did not cash my check and I called her to see if she received it. She informed me that she will seek legal advice in regards to the deductions that were taken. My question is how to proceed and should I place a stop payment on that check?
Answer Five: You are allowed to deduct from a security deposit any rent owed, cleaning of the unit and any unusual wear and tear. If the amount deducted is $125 or more, you need to include receipts to justify the deductions. In your case, your deductions would seem to be very reasonable. Do not place a stop payment on that check. If she seeks legal advice, I am sure that she will be told that you were within your rights to make these deductions.

Question Six: When do plumbing repairs stop being the sole responsibility of the landlord? For instance, we have tenants that need a bathroom faucet repaired. They have lived there two and a half years. At the time of the walk through, the faucets worked fine. At some point, can we as the landlords, require the tenants to pay a portion or the whole amount. Also, a stove hood is now not working. It was working at the walk through. The hood is only five years old.
Answer Six: All appliances and plumbing fixtures work until they don’t. If you cannot prove that the tenants used the items in a negligent way, it would be the owner’s responsibility to pay for the repair or the replacement.

Question 7: My tenant has a dog which is a violation of his lease agreement. When I asked him to remove the pet, he showed me documentation that this is a service animal and due his disability the dog is a medical necessity. I understand the law, but the dog continually howls every time my tenant leaves the premises. This is disturbing the other tenants and I have received three letters regarding this situation. How should I handle this?
Answer 7: Under the American and California Disability Act, a landlord is required to make a reasonable accommodation where a service animal is a medical necessity. The key words are “reasonable accommodation” If you are receiving complaints from other tenants then this would not be considered reasonable. Send your tenant a letter that the howling must stop or he will be required to obtain a replacement service animal.

Question 8: I read in the news about the nanny who refused to leave a couples’ house, even though she could not perform the job she was hired to do. Why could they not throw her out?
Answer 8: This national news story involved a woman who was hired as a nanny to take care of a couple’s three children. For two weeks she performed very well. Thereafter, she announced that she had a disability and would do no further work but would not move. The police department refused to remove this person, even though she had a history of performing these acts on other persons.

Under the law, a person gains legal possession of the property, if they occupy it longer then 30 days. Even though this person refused to do any further work, and this was the basis for the room and board, the couple was forced to file an unlawful detainer action to evict this person. This is just another example of how the laws, in an attempt to safeguard tenants, create havoc for property owners.

I was actually interviewed about this on the John & Ken radio show on KFI. If you would like to hear this interview, it can be heard at: http://www.evict123.com/#!about1/c8bk.

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”.

 

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