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APARTMENT LIFE

When significant other moves in, the rent may rise

June 15, 2008|Kevin Postema | Special to The Times

Question: I recently moved in with my girlfriend in Los Angeles. Her landlord informed her that with me as an additional tenant, the rent will go up 10%. I have lived in L.A. for years and have never heard of this. The apartment manager said it's the law. Is this right? Or is this just the landlord coming up with a way to make a little more money?

Answer: Under Los Angeles' rent control ordinance, owners generally are allowed to charge 10% extra for each additional resident. There are exceptions to this rule, however.

For instance, the first minor child (including twins) in a rent-controlled unit in L.A. is free. Replacement renters also are free. For example, if your girlfriend started her tenancy with a roommate, her rent cannot be raised if you merely replace the former roommate, assuming your girlfriend is an original tenant in the unit.

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Giving notice in a timely fashion

Question: A previous column discussed the notice renters must give before moving out. Does that same information apply to condos under rent control? I've rented a condo for eight years, and the contract says I have to give two months' notice to move. Since I am now on a month-to-month agreement, does that still hold true?

Answer: With only a few exceptions, tenants in rent-controlled apartments and condos are covered by the same rules at both the state and local levels. The rules on notices by tenants to vacate are also the same for condos and apartments. State law requires tenants to give at least 30 days' notice of their intent to vacate their month-to-month residential rental units.

Leases, like yours, automatically become month-to-month under state law if they expire and are not renewed by their owners.

That may appear to solve your problem and allow you to give the owner a 30-day notice to leave, but it does not. This is because all of the conditions and covenants of your lease (except the term, one year) are effective in the "new" month-to-month agreement.

Since you signed the lease and agreed in writing to a give a 60-day notice to vacate, that's what you must do.

If you, as a renter, refuse to renew a lease and the owner insists on it, you can be evicted for that, even with rent control.

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A slight decrease in rental increases

Question: I read a few months ago that effective July 1, rent increases in Los Angeles will be rolled back from 5% to 3%. The manager of my building says he hasn't heard a thing about this.

Can you tell me where I can get a copy of the rule showing the rollback so I get a proper rent increase in July?

Answer: Rent increases in L.A. have not been rolled back. Rather, future annual (inflation) increases for rent-controlled apartments in L.A. -- and this applies only to such units in the city of L.A. -- have been reduced to 3%, effective July 1. They will remain at that level until at least July 1, 2009, at which time they may, or may not, change again.

If you live in a rent-controlled apartment in L.A., this new rule applies to you.

Assuming the law applies to you, showing the manager a copy of this article should be enough for him. If it's not, you can contact the city's Housing Department, at (866) 557-7368, or find out more at its website, lahd.lacity.org.

If you do not live in a rent-controlled apartment, the rule does not apply to you and your manager can raise your rent to its appropriate market level with proper notice.

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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 aptlifeaagla@aol.com.

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