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Apartment Life

Air-Conditioning Lack Frosts Tenant

June 29, 1997|KEVIN POSTEMA | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

QUESTION: I have a question for you about air-conditioning. The managers at my Los Angeles apartment complex will not get me an air conditioner or allow me to get one because there are condensation problems.

Many units in this large apartment complex already have air conditioners, but they will not allow any new ones.

I could get a great cross breeze at night by opening the windows on both sides of the apartment, but the downstairs apartment has an air conditioner that runs so loudly it keeps me awake if I do leave the window open.

I have asked the managers to check and make sure the unit is running properly, but nothing has happened. It just seems to get worse and worse. What are my rights under L.A. city's rent control law? I think I am entitled to a good might's sleep. What do you think?

ANSWER: I know that you dream of getting a good night's sleep in the apartment, which may be possible, but trying to compel the management to get you, or allow you to get, an air conditioner would be more like a nightmare.

There is nothing in state or local law that requires the management to provide, or allow you to have, an air conditioner.

They probably don't require existing tenants to remove air-conditioning units because the large project in which you live is governed by the city of Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Under its provisions, management must decrease rents if they decrease services.

You may try to transfer to another unit in the building or, if the managers have one, ask to be put on a waiting list for a unit with air-conditioning, unless they are removing them when units become vacant.

You also might try an evaporative cooling unit, which does not require outside venting like an air conditioner. They are relatively inexpensive and might cool the apartment enough to make you comfortable enough to get a good night's sleep. They do not cool as well as air conditioners, though.

Another option, the least costly of all, would be to open the windows and wear earplugs or something to muffle the noise from your neighbor's unit.

A last resort would be to call the Noise Enforcement Division of the LAPD at (213) 893-8118. This may not endear you to the managers, especially if they get cited, but it may solve the problem.

Tenants Are Entitled to Relocation Money

Q: Please clarify your answer in your Feb. 23 Apartment Life column in which you said tenants of a rent-controlled unit were entitled to relocation money if the landlord made them move out to move in family members.

Our landlord evicted us to turn our apartment into condos, but he waited until the law was passed that stated you had to make less than a certain amount of money annually to qualify for relocation assistance.

This all happened during 1994, when we made the great sum of $42,000 for the year. He says this was too much. Is he right? If this is incorrect, I certainly would like to know.

A: According to Mark Steres, an attorney with Brown, Winfield & Canzoneri, special counsel to the Los Angeles County Community Development Commission, all tenants in condo conversions in the city of L.A. are eligible to receive relocation assistance, regardless of their incomes.

"To be eligible for the assistance, renters must be living in the units at the time of the subdivision map application and approval," he said.

Under city ordinances, "qualified" tenants get added assistance. They include those 62 and older, disabled, those residing with ethnic minority children or those living in low- or moderate-income housing.

Basically, converters usually must pay relocation fees of $5,000 for qualified renters or $2,000 per unit for others. There are some exceptions, options and added requirements for condo converters, however.

For instance, tenants who move into an apartment with written notice of an impending conversion on file with the city do not qualify for assistance.

This is a complex housing question because some condo conversions are regulated by both the Los Angeles rent stabilization ordinance (those that are rent-controlled) and the L.A. Municipal Code on condo conversions. Check with the L.A. Housing Department at (800) 994-4444 and the city of Los Angeles Planning Department at (213) 580-5532 for further information.

Landlords May Ask for Increase on Deposits

Q: My wife and I live in Westwood, and we have a question about security deposits. When our landlord increases our rent each year by 3%, he writes that he "'would appreciate" it if we would increase our security deposit to be in line with his new rent.

Since he asks us but does not tell us to increase the deposit, we suspect that he has no legal right to demand the deposit increase. If we don't have to pay the increase, we would rather not. Are we required by law to increase the deposit?

A: Los Angeles' rent-stabilization ordinance does allow landlords to annually increase rents and deposits (including last month's rents) at the same time and by the same amount.

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