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APARTMENT LIFE

New law says tenants get 60-day notice

May 04, 2003|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: Under California law an owner must now give the tenant a 60-day notice to leave. When was this law enacted and what is the number of the bill?

Answer: Senate Bill No. 1403 (SB-1403), also known as the Kuehl Bill because it was authored by Westside state Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles), was enacted in 2002 and became effective Jan. 1.

California tenants under month-to-month rental agreements who live in residential rentals for one year or more are entitled to 60-day notices to move out. For tenants who live in their units for less than one year, the law still requires owners to give tenants 30-day notices to move. All month-to-month tenants still may give owners 30-day notices to move out.

Cities with rent control laws usually limit evictions further by requiring just cause for eviction or the payment of relocation fees for "no fault" evictions.

'Last' month's rent can go up

Question: A neighbor of mine recently moved out of her Glendale apartment. She said that the landlord deducted the difference between the current rent and the last month's rent that she paid when she moved in.

I thought that when you move into an apartment and pay the last month's rent, it is completely paid in spite of any subsequent rent increases that may arise. Is that right?

Answer: Not completely. Under California law all security deposits, no matter how they are labeled, are considered as security deposits, even if they are called last month's rent.

If the lease or rental agreement says the last month's rent payment represents the entire last month's rent that is due, or if it is silent on the subject, you may find a sympathetic Small Claims Court judge who will determine that the initial last month's rent payment represents the entire last month's rent payment that is due.

Otherwise, you owe the difference between the rent charged when you moved into the apartment and the current rent, which could not have been predicted when you moved in.

Lease protects you from losing home

Question: I am renting a home in Newport Beach, and I recently renewed my two-year lease. The owner now is telling me that he is considering selling the property. Can he break the lease if he sells the home?

Answer: The lease remains effective even under new ownership. Of course, that does not preclude the new owner from negotiating with you to get you to move early.

Rent control is only for residences

Question: Does Los Angeles rent control apply to commercial properties in Los Angeles too?

Answer: The Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance does not apply to commercial properties in the city of Los Angeles. It does apply to many residential rentals in the city, although not all residential units are covered. Some are exempted. For instance, some exemptions from the rent control law include new construction (first Certificate of Occupancy issued after Oct. 1, 1978) and single-family homes (if there is only one on a lot and if it contains only one tenancy per house).

To find out if your unit is registered under rent control, call the Rent Stabilization Department's registration department at (213) 367-9099.

Finding a place on the Web

Question: I am moving to Los Angeles. Is there a Web site with information on apartment rates and availability?

Answer: There are many, and they often cost very little or are free to renters. Search the Web using keywords such as "apartment rentals Los Angeles."

Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of AAGLA, an apartment owners' service group. E-mail your questions to AptlifeAAGLA@aol.com.

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