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APARTMENT LIFE

Income is used to gauge risk

November 24, 2002|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: We live in Carson. When we applied for senior citizen apartments, we were approved based upon my husband's Supplemental Security Income check of $692 per month and support from our children of $200 a month. Things haven't worked out too well for our children, and in 2001 they had to cut off their support. Despite this, we give priority to paying our $561 monthly rent and we have never been late. Can we be evicted now for not meeting the income requirements?

Answer: No. The income requirement is used to determine whether you are a good rent-payment risk before you rent the apartment. You cannot be evicted now for not meeting the income requirements unless there is something specifically written into your lease or rental agreement that constitutes some good reason for the requirement, which I can't imagine. The bottom line, though, is that as long as you pay the rent on time, the issue should never come up.

Laws on eviction, rent-control vary

Question: Several of my friends and I own duplexes in Los Angeles. We are always wondering about your general information about evictions, rent raises and rent controls. Does rent control apply to duplexes? How about owner-occupied duplexes? Are they one-unit rentals and, thus, exempt from rent control? Finally, can we evict tenants at the end of their leases if they are not good tenants?

Answer: In Santa Monica, owner-occupied duplexes and triplexes are exempt from rent control if the owners apply to the city for exemptions. Not so in Los Angeles. In the early days of Los Angeles rent control, two unattached houses on a lot were exempt from rent control. They are no longer exempt since the Los Angeles City Council changed the law a few years ago.

Duplexes were covered by rent control from the beginning except for those defined as new construction (Certificate of Occupancy first issued after Oct. 1, 1978). As you may know, under rent control, annual inflation rent increases are limited to 3% of the monthly rent.

Evictions are limited under the "just cause eviction" section of the law. You may evict only under the following circumstances: Nonpayment of rent; violation of the lease or rental agreement; being a nuisance or causing damage to the unit; using the unit for illegal purposes; refusing to sign a new lease with similar provisions; refusing reasonable access; having an illegal subtenant in possession; owner- or manager-occupancy; demolishing the property; removing the unit from rental housing use permanently; to comply with a government agency's order; or certain Housing and Urban Development units. No-fault evictions in which the tenant is not at fault -- owner move-ins, demolitions or evictions pursuant to government orders -- require payment of relocation fees ranging from $2,000 to $5,000 to tenants. Seniors 62 or older, the disabled or tenants with minor dependent children (younger than) all get $5,000. Others receive $2,000.

Give tenants adequate notice

Question: I own a single-family home in Studio City. It is for sale now. I am renting out a couple of rooms to unrelated tenants on a month-to-month basis. I have no agreements or contracts with them, nor do I have any problems. One has lived there for eight months and the other for over a year. When I sell my house and want them to leave, what are my responsibilities? How much notice must I give?

Answer: You must give tenants in Los Angeles 60-day notices to move if they have lived in the apartment for at least one year. A 30-day notice is required for tenants in residence for less than a year. Starting Jan. 1, all tenants in California who have lived in their rentals for one year or longer are entitled to 60-day notices under a new state law. Although single-family homes rented to one group of tenants (one tenancy) are exempt from rent control, you are covered by it because you have two separate tenants and tenancies, unless your home is defined as new construction or exempted from the law for some other reason. As a result, you will also have to pay both tenants' relocation fees. The "just cause" of the eviction would be for owner-occupancy.

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

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