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Grace Period on Late Rent Is Optional


QUESTION: I live in West Covina, and I've always paid my rent on time, on or before the first day of the month, until this past month. Well, I paid the rent on the third of the month, but the property management company still gave me a three-day notice to pay the rent or move out.

I told them that I was sure that there is a three-day grace period allowed by state law for late payment of rent. They said that I don't know what I'm talking about. Who's right?

ANSWER: Unless you have an oral or written agreement specifying a grace period, a landlord is not compelled by law to give you one.

He does so at his option.

As far as the rent due-date goes, rent that is due on the first of the month is late on the second, unless the first falls on a weekend or holiday. In those cases, rent becomes due on the next "business" day following the first.

For instance, in August the first of the month falls on a Sunday, so the rent is due on Monday the second and late on Tuesday the third.

About that notice to pay or move, if you don't pay or move within the three days you may be evicted for non-payment of rent. Like the rent due-date, if the last day of the three-day notice falls on a holiday or weekend, its due-date becomes the next business day.

Landlord Has Right to Prohibit Dangerous Pet

Q: I live in Los Angeles and I want to make sure I correctly understood your May 2 column headlined "Neighbor Has Pet But New Tenant Can't."

First, let me provide you with some background. I allowed the tenant in the downstairs unit of a duplex to have a dog. He is on a month-to-month rental agreement.

Recently, the owner allowed the dog outside without a leash and it threatened the other tenants in the common area of the property. Fortunately, no one was injured. I immediately gave the tenant a written notice indicating that he had breached our pet agreement.

Now, I'm not sure what to do. If I understood your article correctly, the only way I can get out of the pet agreement is if the dog passes away. Is that true?

A: Not necessarily. In that answer I said that the landlord did not have to allow new tenants to have pets and could not arbitrarily require a renter with a pet to get rid of it.

In your situation, your tenant has a pet that is breaking the rules, unlike the situation posed by the previous reader.

If the pet agreement prohibits pets in the common areas of the property, and the renter won't keep the pet out of them, you may very well be able to require him to get rid of the pet.

Assuming the pet agreement is incorporated as an amendment to the rental agreement (it should be), you may also be able to evict the renter for violating the agreement if he refuses to comply with your notices to keep the dog at bay or get rid of it.

According to Trevor A. Grimm, general counsel to the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA), "This is an important issue. The law says that a known dangerous-propensity pet is a condition of the premises for which the landlord is liable and he must take action to control or remove the pet or pay the consequences."

Renter Stuck With Utility Arrangement

Q: I live in Long Beach and I have a problem. In the distant past, my unit was a part of a bigger unit that was subsequently split into two separate apartments. Unfortunately, the utility meter was never updated so there is only one for both units.

When I moved in, I was told that I would be responsible for half of the utility bill and that it ran about $60-$70 dollars a month. What I didn't realize was that $60 would be my half of the bill.

Prior to coming here, my highest bill ever was $23. The downstairs tenants have many large, energy-consuming appliances and they always leave their lights on.

I think the situation is unfair and I'm wondering if there is a way to force the landlord to get separate meters or make the neighbors pay more of the bill. Can you help?

A: Probably not. Unless you were duped by an intentional miscommunication, you are probably stuck with the arrangement.

From your letter, it sounds like the utility rate was either mis-communicated by the landlord or misunderstood by you, neither of which seems to qualify as an intentional falsehood. If you can't live with the high utility bill and the owner won't renegotiate, moving may be your best option.

Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the AAGLA, an apartment owners' service group. Mail your questions on any aspect of apartment living to AAGLA, 12012 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, Calif. 90025.

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