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APARTMENT LIFE

Holidays may postpone rent due date

August 17, 2003|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: I have lived in a two-bedroom Anaheim apartment for nine years. The rent is due on the fourth of the month. When the rent came due on July 4, it was Friday and all of the banks were closed. The rental office wasn't open either.

When I paid the rent on July 5 I was charged a $50 late payment fee. I thought that when the rent was due on a legal holiday it kicked over to the next business day.

Answer: You are right if the actual rent due date is the fourth of each month. If you paid your rent Saturday, July 5, you paid it in time and you should have been free of any late payment penalties.

The management either should refund the $50 late payment fee directly to you or deduct it from the next month's rent. Either way, they owe you the money.

As you said in your letter, when the rent due date falls on a weekend or legal holiday it is not legally due until the next business day.

No eviction for mother and baby

Question: I lease out a rent-controlled townhouse in L.A. to a mother and her two daughters. The daughters are listed on the rental agreement, but only the mother signed it. One of the daughters, who is single, is pregnant, and the baby is due this month. They moved in as one family but will now become two.

Since the rental agreement specifies only three women living in the unit, could the addition of this new baby, a fourth tenant, be considered a violation of the agreement? Can the tenant who is having the child be evicted?

Answer: No. Your tenant cannot be evicted for this new baby. Even though they did not sign the rental agreement, the two daughters are still considered your tenants under the law. Moreover, under a special provision of the Los Angeles rent law you can't even raise the rent for this new tenant (babies are considered tenants).

Although the Los Angeles rent law does allow a housing provider to raise the rent by 10% for an added tenant, it also exempts the first newborn tenant in a tenancy from any rent increase. If the tenant has twins, both are exempt from any eviction or rent raises.

If the new mother has another child, or if her sister has a child, you can raise the rent by 10% for the new tenant or evict the tenants from the unit.

Rent control has 3% annual limit

Question: We live in San Pedro in a house built in 1948. We bought the house in October 1979. In 1982 we built and moved into a three-bedroom, two-bath "house" on top of the existing house. Then we rented out the old house.

The rent is very low, and we would like to raise it. We have only raised it once in the last six years.

We are on a corner lot so we each have different addresses. Given the uniqueness of this situation and when the new house was built, are we considered to be in rent control or not? We are not even sure if we're considered a duplex or two houses on a lot. Can you help?

Answer: Under the Los Angeles rent-control law it doesn't matter whether you are considered a duplex or two houses on a lot. Rent control can apply to either classification of housing.

The new-construction exemption in the law to which you are alluding exempts new construction from the law "for which a certificate of occupancy was first issued after Oct. 1, 1978." If the certificate of occupancy for the house in which you live was issued after that date, it is exempt from rent control under the L.A. law.

But that does not affect the tenant's house, the one that was built in 1948, and the one for which you are seeking the rent raise. Under rent control, annual inflation rent increases are limited to 3% per year. The fact that you only have increased rent once in six years does not help you. The rule is, "If you don't use it, you lose it." You are limited to 3% annual increases regardless of your failure to implement previous rent increases.

Kevin Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of AAGLA, an apartment owners' service group. E-mail your questions on any aspect of apartment living to AptlifeAAGLA@aol.com, c/o Kevin Postema, or mail to AAGLA, c/o Kevin Postema, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005.

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