El Nino is back! The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has issued a flash flood advisory with as much as a half-inch to three-quarter-inch of rain expected into Friday. Our days of nearly nonstop rain means that water leaks can strike. Leaks from broken windows. Improperly sealed air conditioners. From the roof behind cupboards and in closets. Not every landlord is responsive to a complaint about a water leak even thought the law is clear: the rental agreement implies a warranty of habitability, and that means proper weatherproofing. Let’s recap the remedies available to the tenant if the premises don’t meet that standard.
One of the most common disputes between landlords and tenants concerns the tenant’s security deposit. The law allows for deductions from the deposit under certain circumstances (such as when the apartment is damaged or left unclean after move-out) but an unprofessional or unscrupulous landlord can make unwarranted claims in order to withhold part or all of it. Check out our new About that Security Deposit page to learn more about how to protect yourself from an unscrupulous landlord.
Here is a sight nobody wants to see early on a Friday morning before Christmas: a Sheriff’s deputy probably on his way to serve a tenant his notice to vacate. It is heartbreaking to see it in my neighborhood and even worse to see it on the next block. The only thing worse is the Sheriff showing up for a lock-out. The notice to vacate is the penultimate step. When the Sheriff shows up, that means time is up.
It is that time of year! Our election ballot is loaded with propositions and the No-on–10 campaign is sowing a small crop of political signs across lawns in town. (That’s what $75M in landlord money buys.) What’s a tenant to do? Plant a Yes-on–10 sign, right? But there is no Yes-on-10 sign available. So we must fashion them from the opponents’ signs as one self-starter on Reeves has done. But…is it lawful for a tenant to post a lawn sign on the landlord’s lawn? Yes it is!
Longtime tenants know this story: worn carpets long past their prime get to looking downright threadbare. Yet pleas for renewal find no sympathy from an inattentive landlord. Even a request for a carpet cleaning falls on a deaf ear (so to speak). When the quality of interior furnishings like carpets declines, it can fall to the tenant to pick up the slack: new paint, new carpet and the occasional carpet cleaning at her own expense. We’ve done that and more over the past twenty years and most recently hired a carpet cleaner. Here are our lessons learned!
Here is a slew of links from around the web that remind us that our struggle for residential stability is not ours alone. Beverly Hills is only one of the many jurisdictions across California, and even the western world, where renters are locked in a protracted battle with both landlords and policymakers to remain housed.
Do you live in near the future Metro station at Wilshire and Reeves? If so you are likely to experience construction-related disruption from the project. But If you rent housing near the future Purple Line station, your problems are only beginning. Households near the station are quite likely to be displaced over the coming years, so I’ve asked City of Beverly Hills to consider strong-arming Metro for compensation. Read on!
The summer heat has finally arrived! And with it comes special dangers for a senior who may not have air conditioning in her apartment. A recent heat warning spelled out the danger:
…EXCESSIVE HEAT WARNING REMAINS IN EFFECT FROM 10 AM FRIDAY TO 9 PM PDT SATURDAY.. HIGH TEMPERATURES…Record heat likely. Increased potential for serious heat-related illnesses, especially for the young and elderly, those performing outdoor activities, as well as those without access to air conditioning.
Seniors without air conditioning who reside on the upper floors of older buildings are most vulnerable. Check for the latest posted Los Angeles County heat alert and then consider these resources.
I regularly speak with tenants who are not aware that the landlord can end a month-to-month tenancy for any reason or no reason at all. If no local ordinance prohibits it, and Beverly Hills has no such prohibition, the landlord’s good will is all that stands between the home we’ve made and the stomach-churning search for post-eviction replacement housing. Have you thought about what happens next after receiving such a notice? Here’s a primer on no-just-cause eviction: what it is, what to expect, and what you can do.
Tenants are allowed to deduct from the rent the cost of a repair when the landlord won’t make it. Colloquially it’s known as ‘repair-and-deduct’ and the logic is straightforward: the rental agreement says you pay your rent and the landlord maintains the premises. But like so many tenant protections, this one too comes with practical limits. Understand that failing to follow the law carefully may put a tenant in court fighting an unlawful detainer. That’s why I advise tenants against withholding any part of the rent. If you feel that you must deduct, then at least read more before you do.
Landlords largely get free rein in Beverly Hills. The city mandates so few protections for those who rent, in fact, that only residents in 3% of households – those that fall under the city’s earlier Chapter 5 rent stabilization code – can feel like City Hall has their back. Most tenants’ protections derive largely from state law which means a trip to court on our own dime for an uncertain outcome. Discrimination in housing is different: state and federal law provides for significant penalties against any landlord who discriminates, and that protection is backstopped in the courts by state and federal officials and non-governmental organizations that file suit on behalf of tenants.
Tenant and landlord representatives sat down for a series of facilitated dialogues last summer to talk about a rent stabilization policy changes and we agreed that bad actors cause the most grief: predatory landlords who take advantage of tenants and problem tenants who are a thorn to landlord and neighbors alike. While landlords have the means to flag potentially-problematic tenants, though, a prospective tenant cannot do the due diligence: there exists no means to reliably vet a landlord before signing a lease. That puts the lie to caveat emptor: ‘Let the buyer beware.’
Taking in a roommate or a long-term guest seems innocuous enough. Maybe it’s a means to pay the rent or a goodwill gesture to a friend or family member. But the presence of unauthorized occupants may be a breach of the lease or rental agreement so it’s always smart to read what it allows and then secure permission from the landlord if necessary. Lets look at a couple of situations that may get the unwitting tenant into some trouble.
Recently an apartment adjacent to mine leased quite quickly. The new tenants, nice guys all, introduced themselves. Three adult men seemed a tight fit for a one-bedroom apartment smaller than 500 square feet. It raised two questions. Why would three men rent that apartment? How many people can a landlord pack into a small place? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think. I did a little digging!
Incidents involving disruptive animals in airplanes have garnered much attention recently because farm animals like pigs and peacocks don’t seem a good fit for a tight cabin. Yet they may fly as ‘emotional support’ animals under federal rules. Tenants can claim the same accommodation and may use it to keep a landlord from turning away a pet. But is that advisable? Let’s take a closer look at pets in apartments and review the tenant’s options.
Landlords and tenants tend to get anxious when hearing the term ‘mold.’ But it’s important to remember that while mold is a moisture problem, the presence of moisture isn’t necessarily a mold problem. That is, humidity creates conditions for mold to grow but toxic mold should not prevail in our relatively dry climate unless it is left unaddressed. Mold is “complicated,” as they say, and so is getting help if you suspect mold is present in your apartment.
Listening to tenants talk in City Council or at the facilitated dialogues I am astounded that significant health and safety issues go unreported. Situations where a property’s structure is compromised or where in-apartment conditions beg for an inspector from code enforcement. I also understand that some tenants fear retaliation and don’t want to go on record. But others might contact the city if they know to reach out, and how to make that complaint effective. Here I walk through the steps to file and online complaint and highlight how the form allows for filing a complaint anonymously.
Did you know that Beverly Hills provides free minor home repairs to multifamily households? This federally-funded ‘housing rehabilitation program’ can provide mobility improvements, weatherization, water conservation, security and other aspects of apartment maintenance to households long-ignored by the landlord. The only catch: households must qualify for the handyworker program [flyer].
On Thursday Beverly Hills wrapped up the second of two rent stabilization ‘education workshops.’ Residents and landlords were invited to these town-hall events to learn about major changes to the city’s rent-stabilization law (read about the changes in the ordinance). This is tenants first opportunity to hear directly from city officials about how the new policies will affect us.
City Council at its Tuesday, May 16th 7pm meeting will discuss whether to fund a new housing rights legal services program. For the first time the city recognizes that residents who rent can find themselves at the wrong end of an eviction notice, or be harassed by a landlord or even suffer retribution for reporting mold, say. If this proposed $60,000 grant is supported by Council tonight, then residents will finally have access to free legal advice if we need it.