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APARTMENT LIFE

Is rent hike immediate when building sells?

March 18, 2007|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: I live in a rent-controlled apartment in Los Angeles. The landlady has not raised the rent for several years, but she may be selling the building. Can new owners raise the rent immediately or must they wait one year to do so?

Answer: If the building sells, the new owners cannot raise your rent immediately. They may, however, be able to raise it with a 30-day notice of change of terms of tenancy. Under the city of Los Angeles rent-control law, if the owner of your building had raised the rent during the last 12 months, the new owner would have to wait 12 months from the date of the last increase to raise the rent again. The allowable annual rent raise percentage in Los Angeles is 4% now but goes up to 5% on July 1. In West Hollywood, owners also are allowed to raise rents on the 12-month anniversary dates of their tenants' last rent increases.

New house rules seem unreasonable

Question: The new owner of my rent-controlled building just gave the tenants notices of several changes in the terms of our tenancies, some of which seem unreasonable and unenforceable. One of the changes says, "No unnecessary noise, loud talking or playing is allowed any time. All musical instruments, television sets, radios, stereos, etc., are to be played only between the hours of 9 a.m. and 11 p.m. and then only at moderate volume so as not to disturb other residents." Is this legal and enforceable, or can we be evicted for watching the 11 o'clock news?

Answer: You probably cannot be evicted for watching the 11 o'clock news. Under the city of L.A.'s rent law, owners cannot unilaterally change the terms of tenancies with their existing renters and then evict them for violating the new changes (except for changes pre-approved by the city, such as annual rent increases). That is not the case in non-rent-controlled jurisdictions where owners generally can change the terms of tenancies with 30-day notices.

Even if your unit was not under rent control, unreasonable changes of the terms of a tenancy, like this one, would not be enforceable in a court of law. If, on the other hand, you played the TV so loudly that it disturbed other residents, there is a chance you could be evicted for it.

Kevin Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, an apartment owners' service group. Send letters to aptlifeaagla@aol.com, or Apartment Age, Attn: Kevin Postema, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005.

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