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Apartment Life

It's Not Necessary to Give New Address to Landlord

June 01, 1997|KEVIN POSTEMA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of AAGLA, an apartment owners' service group, and manager of public affairs for the California Apartment Law Information Foundation, which disseminates information about landlord/tenant law to renters and owners in California

QUESTION: I live in Pasadena, and I have a question for you about moving out of an apartment. Is it absolutely necessary or legally required that a tenant moving out of an apartment leave a new address with the manager or owner?

I will gladly leave the name and address of a very close friend to whom the security deposit refund may be mailed, but I do not wish to leave my new address with the former landlord or manager. What should I do?

ANSWER: Although the city of Santa Monica briefly flirted with requiring landlords seeking rent increases upon vacancies to get former tenants' new addresses, the state Legislature, considering privacy rights, did not allow it.

You should leave a forwarding address, of course, for any security deposit refund that may be due you. Your close friend's address is fine. Just make sure the manager addresses the refund to your friend's place in care of you.

Landlord May Need to Show 'Just Cause'

Q: I recently have been asked to move out of my Van Nuys apartment. I asked the landlord why he wanted me and my girlfriend to move out, and he answered that he didn't want to rent to us anymore.

I have never paid the rent late, and none of my neighbors complain about me. The only source of dissatisfaction from the landlord could be that my girlfriend calls him whenever something breaks in the apartment.

Can they kick us out of the property for no reason?

A: If the unit is under L.A. city rent control (Van Nuys is a part of the city), the owners need a "just cause" to evict you from the apartment. If that's the case, and he asks you to leave through no fault of your own, you may be entitled to relocation money.

To find out whether your unit is covered by the law, call the city's Rent Stabilization Division at (213) 847-7490.

If your unit is not rent-controlled, the owner may ask you to leave with a 30-day notice to move. He is not required to give you the reason or pay relocation expenses.

Landlord Reneges on Refund Accord

Q: I used to live in the Los Feliz district of Los Angeles, but I had the opportunity to accept a better job in Boston. This was four months into a one-year lease on a house.

The company that hired me offered to pay the landlord two months' rent in addition to the last month's rent I paid. The landlord said he understood and would refund the last month's rent and the security deposit, which equals more than $3,000.

He cashed the company check and has re-rented the house. Nevertheless, he refuses to refund the last month's rent and security deposit. He says he is worried about how he will make the mortgage payments if the new tenants don't work out. I say that's not my problem. He made an arrangement and he cashed the checks. Who is right and what can I do about it?

A: You are right. First, unless the potential for double collection of rents was part of the deal, the owner may have lost nothing by your move and you may have a rent refund claim.

Second, if the "guarantee" was not part of the deal, the owner may be wrongfully withholding your security deposit, leaving him liable for up to $600 in punitive damages.

Either way, once he re-rents the house you are no longer responsible for any rent, whether the new tenants work out or not, unless your agreement provides otherwise.

You should write him a letter informing him of these facts. If he still is uncooperative, you may have to sue him in Small Claims Court to get your refund. Since the rental was here, you'll have to sue here.

If Duplex Is Sold, Will Rental Pact Change?

Q: We rent half of a duplex in Venice. The owner recently put the building on the market to be sold. Although we had a lease for the first year of our tenancy, we are now on a month-to-month rental agreement.

In the event the new owners want to keep renting to us, can the terms of our rental agreement be changed at their discretion? (We really need the garage we rent with the unit.) Does it make any difference that each unit has a separate street address? Can we be evicted? If so, are we entitled to get relocation fees?

A: You can be evicted by new owners under a month-to-month agreement. If you were under a lease, they would have to wait until it expired.

Unless the duplex is exempted from Los Angeles' rent control law, you are entitled to relocation fees if evicted for no cause.

New owners can change some of the terms of your rental agreement, like taking the garage from you for their use. However, if they do that and you are under rent control, they must reduce your rent by the value of the garage.

*

Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of AAGLA, an apartment owners' service group, and manager of public affairs for the California Apartment Law Information Foundation, which disseminates information about landlord/tenant law to renters and owners in California. Mail your questions on any aspect of apartment living to AAGLA, 12012 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025.

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