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APARTMENT LIFE

In case of dog, eviction threat lacks bite

July 30, 2006|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: I have lived in a rent-controlled L.A. apartment for 10 years and have a big worry. We got our little dog about five years ago. No one said anything to us about the dog, even though they knew we had it. Now the manager says we must get rid of the dog, which is now a part of our family, or move. Can they evict us for our little dog?

Answer: The owner and manager are barking up the wrong tree if they think they can evict you for your dog now. If your rental contract prohibits pets, and they came to you when they first found out you had the dog and told you to get rid of it or move, they could have evicted you for keeping it.

But if they didn't do that, it is too late for them to evict you. They have "waived" (given up) their right to evict you now because they knew about the dog, did nothing about it and accepted the rent for several years, meaning they have accepted the dog as a part of your tenancy.

Can't deduct for 8-year-old carpet

Question: My tenants just moved out of my Tustin rental home after three years. Before moving they noted that there were some worn spots and stains on the carpeting, which is 8 years old. When I inspected the house I found that the carpeting is in far worse shape than I anticipated, beyond what I consider to be "normal wear and tear." Can I keep part of the security deposit and apply it to new flooring? Also, I know that I have only two weeks to return the security deposit. Can I estimate the cost, withhold that amount and send the receipts later?

Answer: You cannot keep any part of your former renter's deposit to pay for new carpeting. Even though there is no law specifically defining the expected life span of carpeting in rentals, and judges can't seem to agree on exactly how long it should last, to my knowledge no judge has ever ruled that the life expectancy of carpet is as long as eight years. In these kinds of cases, usually adjudicated in Small Claims Courts, judges have consistently ruled that it is less than that, usually three to six years, meaning that you can't charge anything to replace it because it has already outlived its useful life.

If you elect to clean the carpets, however, you can charge 100% of the cost, regardless of the age of the carpet, to get it as clean when they move out as it was when they moved in.

Refunding the deposit within two weeks is the old standard. Under state law, you now have three weeks to refund security deposits to former tenants. You may estimate unknown costs and refund any balance when the costs are known.

E-mail questions to aptlifeaagla@aol.com.

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