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RENT WATCH

A credit report error; tenant is asked to pay more

June 22, 2003|From Project Sentinel

Question: I just received a rent increase notice that said the landlord ran my credit report again using a new credit reporting agency. He said the new report shows a court eviction. I've never had a court eviction and don't think I should have to pay the higher rent. What can I do?

Answer: Whenever a rental applicant is rejected or the rent is increased based on a credit report, California Civil Code 1786.40(a) requires the landlord to include the name and address of the investigative consumer reporting agency used.

This information should have been included in the rent increase notice so that you could exercise your right to dispute the information. Until the problem is resolved, you have the right to place a security freeze on the credit report, preventing the agency from releasing the report without your consent. Discuss the matter with your landlord. You could provide him with copies of the correspondence being generated between you and the credit reporting agency. Hopefully, this will prove to him that the credit report is incorrect and you are taking steps to have it corrected.

Renters' mutual gripes are loud

Question: I manage a large apartment complex. What can I do about two tenants who constantly complain to me about noise the other is making? I've never had any problem with either of them in the past. But now, each day I have a phone call or message from one or the other about disturbing late-night noise. Any suggestions?

Answer: Noise issues can be difficult to resolve. Speak to the tenants to determine the source and degree of the noise disturbance for them. Is it excessive? Is it at an inappropriate time? Is one tenant being too sensitive? Are there circumstances such as a new baby, new job, loss of job or other lifestyle change that may be causing the problem?

Noise issues are one of the best topics to bring to mediation, where each party has an opportunity to express concerns and feelings and can then look at methods to mutually resolve or lessen the noise. Either you can suggest they contact a mediation program or you can contact one directly for assistance.

Can kids be forced to forgo wheels?

Question: The manager of my apartment building sent out a notice that says children can no longer ride "wheeled" toys on the sidewalks within the complex. The notice did not say anything about the adults who roller-blade or ride their bikes on the sidewalks. Is this notice legal?

Answer: The notice prohibiting children from riding "wheeled" toys discriminates against children because it limits their enjoyment of the apartment complex grounds while allowing adults to engage in the prohibited activity. However, a manager's attempt to prohibit all tenants, adults and children, from riding this type of toy on the complex grounds would not be illegal.

The manager should change the notice to read "no riding of wheeled devices on the sidewalks." Although this affects more children than adults, it does not target children specifically and is thus legal under the fair housing laws if the complex has a legitimate business need for the rule.

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 or complaints, call the state Department of Fair Housing and Employment at (800) 233-3212; the Southern California Housing Rights Center at (800) 477-5977; or the Fair Housing Council, Fair Housing Institute or Fair Housing Foundation office in your area:

El Monte: (626) 579-6868

Pasadena: (626) 791-0211

San Fernando Valley: (818) 373-1185

South-Central: (213) 295-3302

Orange County: (714) 569-0828

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