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RENT WATCH

Tenant Caught Up in Sale of Property

April 26, 1998|From Project Sentinel

QUESTION: The rental property I live in has been for sale for three months. The owner and I had a verbal agreement that if I showed the property without advance notice, she would reduce my rent by half for as long as it took to sell the house.

For the last three months, I have kept my part of the agreement. When I paid this month's rent, the owner told me the property was no longer for sale and I owed the full rent. I'm willing to pay the full rent, but prospective buyers still want to see the property.

When I questioned the real estate agent, he said that he has a contract to keep the house on the market for another two months and will continue to show the property. I don't want to get in the middle of their dispute. What can I do?

ANSWER: Inform the property owner that the real estate agent intends to continue to show the property. The two of them need to resolve their business arrangement, separate from your tenancy. Additionally, inform the owner that you are willing to pay full rent again.

Sections 1953 and 1954 of the California Civil Code guarantee your right to privacy and specify the conditions under which the landlord or his agents can enter rented property.

To ensure that your rights to privacy are not violated, you may want to send both the landlord and the real estate agent a letter confirming that the property is not to be entered without your permission.

You may also want to indicate that you would be willing to reinstate your previous agreement with the landlord to make the property available without advance notice.

Paint Not Required but Goodwill May Be

Q: My tenant has asked me to repaint the interior of his unit and replace the carpet. It was painted three years ago, and the paint still looks good to me. The carpet is 10 years old but is clean and serviceable. He says I am obligated to repaint at least every other year and to replace the carpet after 10. Is he right?

A: There are no regulations specifying how often a rental until must be painted or carpets must be replaced. As long as the paint is not lead-based, peeling or otherwise creating a health hazard, there is no requirement that you paint.

If carpets and drapes are not damp or mildewy, or otherwise creating a health hazard, and the carpets do not have holes or tears that could cause a person to trip, you are not required to replace them.

However, you might try to reach an amicable arrangement in which your tenant would do the painting. As you are probably aware, it is in your best interest as a landlord to satisfy your customers, so some type of win-win compromise might be explored. Check to see if your area has mediation or another program for assistance.

Quit Notice Is Legal If Tenant Broke Terms

Q: After my tenant continually violated her six-month lease by bringing in a cat, I grew tired of giving her warnings, so I served her with a three-day notice to perform covenant or quit. She says that since she has a lease, I can't give her a three-day notice. Is she correct?

A: No. You are allowed to give a three-day notice whenever a tenant is violating the terms of the rental agreement, whether he or she has a month-to-month agreement or a lease.

Whenever a violation occurs, a landlord is entitled to take action to correct the problem or violation by serving a three-day notice that gives the tenant an opportunity to correct the behavior or condition.

An example of a correction would be to remove the cat from the premises when pets are prohibited. Your tenant needs to understand that your can pursue eviction proceedings based on your three-day notice, if you wish.

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This column is prepared by Project Sentinel, a rental housing mediation service in Sunnyvale, Calif. Questions may be sent to 1055 Sunnyvale-Saratoga Road, Suite 3, Sunnyvale, CA 94087, but cannot be answered individually.

For housing discrimination questions, complaints or help, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212 or the Fair Housing Council or the Fair Housing Institute office in your area:

Bellflower: (888) 777-4087

Carson: (888) 777-4087

Hawthorne: (888) 777-4087

Lancaster: (888) 777-4087

Redondo Beach: (888) 777-4087

Westside Los Angeles: (310) 477-9260

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211

El Monte: (626) 579-6868

Orange County: (714) 569-0828

San Bernardino County: (909) 884-8056

San Diego County: (619) 699-5888

Ventura County: (805) 385-7288

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