QUESTION: I live in Rolling Hills and own a 15-unit building in Inglewood. Recently, I have been getting complaints from several of my good tenants about two of my tenants selling drugs there. These alleged drug dealers always pay their rents on time and I have no proof that they deal drugs. If they do, I'm not so sure I want to evict them, as drug dealers generally aren't very nice people. What can I do to get them out of the building, if need be?
ANSWER: If your tenants are drug dealers, you must get them out of your Inglewood building if you are aware of the problem. The city of Inglewood is confiscating apartment buildings (two have been confiscated) where owners allow known drug dealers to operate.
The Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) is jointly participating in a pilot program with the city to help rid the city's rental housing of drug dealers and to help apartment owners save their buildings from confiscation.
AAGLA is providing apartment owners in the city with free 30-day eviction notices and counseling. AAGLA also sponsors a seminar on drug abatement that features a "special 'non-confrontational' program to eradicate crime and violence."
For more information call Maureen at AAGLA's Inglewood office at (213) 674-0463 or call the Inglewood Police Department's Community Affairs Division at (213) 412-5530.
Tenant Installs Piano Against Owner's Rules
Q: I own an apartment building in West Los Angeles and I have a question about rent applicants, who seem to be getting more and more aggressive with me. The walls in this building are very thin. I have always rented the apartments "without pianos or any other musical instruments." Is that legal?
Also, one of the tenants has now brought a piano into her apartment. She didn't have it when she moved in but she has one now. As you might suspect, the three tenants around her are all complaining about the noise. Can I prohibit her from using the piano? If not, what can I do?
A: It is legal to prohibit the use of loud musical instruments in your apartment building, and it sounds like you've written that kind of language into your lease or rental agreement, "(Apartment is rented) without pianos or any other musical instrument."
Your next step is to serve the renter with a "Three-Day Notice To Perform Covenant or Quit." Quote the language contained in the written lease in your notice and reference the paragraph number where it is located for your renter's information.
If the renter fails to comply with the notice, you may have to evict her for violating her rental contract in order to solve the problem. If it comes to that, you should probably get an eviction-specialist attorney to handle the case.
No State Law for Deposit Interest
Q: Some time ago I believe I read a column in the Real Estate section that mentioned that California reenters are entitled to interest payments on their security deposits. I am getting ready to move from one Thousand Oaks apartment to another, and I am having a problem with the new owner.
My current landlady, who is very nice, is about to refund my security deposit, plus interest at the rate of 5% a year, compounded annually, which is how the lease was written. The new owner won't agree to this part of the lease.
The same real estate agent handled both deals. He says he is unaware of any laws on this. He said, "We can ask, but. . . ." So, I am asking you. Is interest a law or not? If not, why not? Thank you for your help (and for a most interesting column).
A: Interest on deposits is not a state law. There are many reasons for this. Primarily, they are economic. The annual bookkeeping and accounting costs would require higher rents. That, coupled with the tax implications to you, would, in most cases, offset the benefits of such interest payments.