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A month-to-month agreement isn't a lease

July 06, 2008|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: I read your recent column saying that, under rent control in Los Angeles, an apartment owner can evict renters for not renewing their lease, at the owner's option. My tenant has lived here for more than 10 years on a month-to-month lease that she has never signed.

Can I evict her for that? The L.A. Rent Stabilization Division says it doesn't know anything about this "new law" you mentioned.

Answer: This provision of the law does not apply to your situation because your tenant never signed a one-year lease in the first place and a month-to-month rental agreement is not a month-to-month lease, even though you call it that in your letter. RSD staff is incorrect if it referred to this as a new law or asserted that it does not exist. It is part of the Los Angeles Municipal Code.

Unfortunately for you, however, it does not help. You cannot evict your tenant under this provision of the law because, unlike annual leases, month-to-month rental agreements do not expire. They automatically renew at the end of each month for new 30-day terms and do not need to be signed monthly.

Leases do expire. Annual leases must be signed each year to be effective, or they expire at the end of the term, except where local law (the L.A. rent law in this case) modifies the rule. If you accept rent after the expiration of a lease, the tenancy automatically converts to a month-to-month agreement by operation of state law.

If your tenant had signed a one-year lease when she moved into your apartment, and you required her to sign and renew it annually up until now, under the law you could evict her for not renewing it now.

Carpet cleaning is up to the tenant

Question: I have been living in my apartment for five years. I have a new baby, and I would like to have the carpets pro- fessionally cleaned before he starts crawling around.

Will I be 100% financially responsible for this, or should the owners pay for it (or perhaps a part of it)?

If it's my responsibility, does my landlord need to give me an OK before I have someone come in to clean them?

Answer: You usually are allowed to have your carpets cleaned -- or clean them yourself -- without the owner's specific permission, unless something to the contrary is written into your lease or rental agreement.

If there is such language in your lease or rental agreement, talk about it with the owner before proceeding with the cleaning. If not, you may hire a carpet-cleaning company on your own to do the job. Unless the owner or his workmen did something to the carpet to make its cleaning necessary, you are responsible to pay for cleaning it.

According to the carpet- cleaning professionals, carpets should be cleaned at least annually. Some recommend that you have them cleaned every six months.


Kevin Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, an apartment owners' service group. He can be reached at Apartment Age, 621 S. Westmoreland Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90005. Or e-mail him at

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