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Apartment Life

Renter Prefers Not to Live Near Kids

September 01, 1996|KEVIN POSTEMA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

QUESTION: I live in Huntington Beach, and I have a question for you that I have never seen in your column before. I know that the law says that children are not to be discriminated against, but I would like to live in an apartment where there are no babies crying or children fighting. Don't get me wrong; I like children. I just don't want to be around them after working nine to 10 hours a day.

The complex in which I live is very large, and it doesn't say anything about child or adult areas. I complain about the noise, but they don't do anything.

What about people like me who don't want to live near children? Aren't we being discriminated against? I am looking for a new apartment. What can I ask and how can I let prospective landlords know that I don't want to be near children?

ANSWER: Although California, and federal, fair housing laws prohibit apartment owners and management companies who are renting residential accommodations from discriminating against children, except in some seniors-only housing, nothing prevents you from doing so.

Simply ask prospective landlords if there are children in the buildings you are thinking about renting. If so, you don't have to rent there.

However, if there are no children in a complex in which you rent, you must understand that the management cannot guarantee the status quo.

Receivership Order Names Rent Recipient

Q: I live in Los Angeles and several years ago, during the recession, I fell six months behind in my rent. Since I was a longtime, good-paying tenant, the landlord made a verbal agreement with me allowing me to pay current rent, plus $100 per month on the balance.

I kept the agreement and everyone was happy, until last month. Then I got a notice that the building was in receivership because the landlord defaulted on his loans. I now pay the rent to a court-appointed management firm.

My question: Who is entitled to the past rent? Is it the receiver or the former landlord? The resident manager, who also managed for the former owner, is pressuring me to pay the rent to the trustee.

He also has said that he is not responsible for our security deposits. Is that true? If so, how can he collect back rents?

A: According to Gary Holme, president of the Beaumont Property Management Co., who has acted as a receiver for thousands of rental units like yours, the answer depends on the terms of the deed of trust and the court order that appointed a receiver.

"The orders we get generally provide that we are empowered to collect all uncollected rent, current and past due," Holme said. "For your own protection, it seems advisable to ask the receiver for something in writing showing his authority to collect the past unpaid rent."

Remember, too, that the receiver acts during the foreclosure period, meaning that the former owner has not yet lost the property. As for the security deposit, the receiver is not responsible for that, as he is not the owner. Either the former owner, new owner or both may be responsible for the security deposit.

Cleaning, Painting Fees Appear to Be Proper

Q: I recently moved out of an apartment in Alta Loma, and the apartment management company kept $130 from my $500 security deposit for painting and cleaning the apartment unit after I left.

I have enclosed their statement in which they charged me $70 for cleaning and $60 for partial paint. Is this worth taking to Small Claims Court? Also, do they owe me 5% simple interest on the deposit for the more than two years I was there?

A: These charges seem pretty reasonable to me since you were there for more than two years. If they had the apartment cleaned and have a cleaning bill for $70, it would seem difficult, at best, to prove that you got a dirty deal on that portion of the withheld deposit. State law allows them to keep 100% of cleaning charges.

Also, since they are only charging you $60 for "a portion" of the painting, that seems pretty reasonable. It seems to me like it would be a waste of time to pursue a Small Claims Court action on this one.

As for the 5% simple interest on security deposits law, that is a Los Angeles city ordinance. It applies only to rent-controlled apartments in Los Angeles.

Apartment Managers Can Pick Work Hours

Q: I live in Studio City, and I have a question. I understand that apartment complexes of 16 or more units are required by state law to have on-site resident managers with normal business hours. Our building was sold in January and the manager was terminated.

The new "manager" gave out notices saying that she would be available via a 24-hour pager. She leaves for work at about 8:30 a.m. and returns at about 5 or 6 p.m. She does sleep here, though. Is this legal? Do the tenants have any recourse?

A: You are right about apartment complexes of 16 or more units being required by state law to have on-site resident managers. However, nothing in the code says anything about them "having normal business hours." As long as the new manager lives at the building, she is complying with the law.

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

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