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Apartment Life

Checklist Forms Available for Renters

August 14, 1994|KEVIN POSTEMA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, an apartment owners' service group

QUESTION: I am a renter and I live in Tustin. In your July 3 column, under the question titled "Using Move-In Checklist Avoids Move-Out Woes," you recommended that owners and renters alike use inventory checklists before moving into apartments to determine the condition of everything inside them.

You also mentioned in the column that the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) produces such a form. I understand that AAGLA is an apartment owners' service group, but getting such a from is immensely important to me as a renter.

Is there any way you can send me a copy of the form?

ANSWER: Although AAGLA is a membership organization that generally dispenses forms only to its members, as a public service for the next 30 days, renters may pick up copies of AAGLA's Inventory Checklist form (one per person) at any of AAGLA's three Los Angeles County offices.

The offices are at 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles (213) 384-4131; 12012 Wilshire Blvd., West L.A. (310) 820-7651; 17707 Crenshaw Blvd., Suite 210, Torrance (310) 532-9245.

The Westmoreland Avenue office is open from 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The West L.A. and South Bay offices are open the same hours, except they are closed from noon-1 p.m. for lunch.

What Is Policy on Credit-Checking Fees?

Q: For the past six years, I have been a summer tenant at a Newport Beach apartment complex. This year, for the first time, when I paid the first month's rent I was asked to pay an additional $20 credit checking fee, which I did.

Since I have a five-year record of prompt payment of rent and no problems at this complex, I am wondering whether this fee is legal or just a gimmick. If it is legal, am I entitled to a copy of my credit report?

A: Perhaps the owners of this complex have had a bad experience with a formerly good renter, or they may just be tightening their rental policies because of the recession. Either way, credit checking fees are legal and some institutions charge even more than $20 for them.

You are entitled to a copy of your credit report, but you must get it directly from the credit reporting agency. The owners or managers of the complex are prohibited by law from giving it to you.

However, they must provide you with the name and phone number of the credit reporting agency from which they got the report, which must provide you with a copy of the report upon your written request.

He's Off Deep End Over Pool Changes

Q: I live in Fullerton and I have a problem. The main reason I moved into this apartment about a year ago was for the large swimming pool areas it provided me and my guests.

Unfortunately, after this privilege was abused by a few occupants whose guests had small children, the pool rules were drastically altered by the management. Now, no guests are allowed in the pool and the hours have been shortened.

Why should adults be punished for the transgressions of children? Even though the hours on the pool sign were changed to the new ones, it still reads "2 guests per apartment." Does that matter?

A: I am assuming that you were given a written notice of the pool rule changes, so it would be difficult to argue that you were confused by the unchanged poolside sign, which could be altered by the management anyway.

As you say in your letter, the pool " . . . privilege was abused by a few occupants whose guests had small children;" while the apartment's management might have found a better solution to the problem, the one they found seems to be legal and rational.

Interest on Security Deposit Is Overdue

Q: I lived in a West Los Angeles apartment for two years before moving to Alexandria, Va., earlier this year. When I left I asked the owner if he owed me any interest on my security deposit, he said that law was no longer effective.

A friend's mother inquired about the interest on my behalf. She was told that the law, passed in November, 1990, is still in effect and that it requires 5% interest payments on security deposits.

When I got my deposit refund there was, of course, no interest payment included. I have notified the owner several times by certified mail that he owes me the money, over $100, but he refuses to even respond to my requests for payment.

If I have to come to L.A. to sue in Small Claims Court to recover the interest, can I also get the cost of air fare, hotel accommodations, lost wages and so forth?

A: The Los Angeles City Interest on Deposits law is still in effect for rent-controlled rental properties in the city. If you had a $1,000 security deposit for two years with the owner, he owes you $100 in interest for that.

And while you generally cannot recover lost wages, travel and housing costs in Small Claims Court, the court can penalize an owner $600 for the "bad faith" retention of a security deposit, of which the interest would seem to be a part.

Sending the owner a copy of this column, with a written request for payment of the interest owed, and subsequently not being paid, might prove your "bad faith" claim in court, which may pay for your air fare and lodging.

What's Easiest Way to Evict Two Lodgers?

Q: I live in Dana Point and I read your May 15 column in which you told how easy it is for a homeowner to rid himself of a lodger when there is only one on the premises because of a special law.

My question is how does that law apply to a homeowner who has two lodgers in his home?

A: It doesn't. As I emphasized in the previous column, "this remedy only applies to lodgers in owner-occupied dwellings where there is only one lodger/tenant."

Where there is more than one lodger/tenant, you must evict a renter just like a residential renter in an apartment building.

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