By Victor Hairapetian, Attorney
Question to Victor: A 60 day notice that I served ends on the 15th of the month, I know I am only suppose to receive 15 days, but the tenant paid the whole month, what should I do?
Victor’s Advice: This is an area that most landlords easily confuse. You may demand and accept rent that covers through the 15th, however you should not accept a check that includes any amount beyond that final day. This means that you should not accept a month’s check, and then offer a refund or credit since the acceptance of the payment alone can invalidate the notice. The simplest and clearest solution is to compute what is due, and return the original check to the tenant and ask that they replace it with the amount you computed.
Question to Victor: Am I responsible if my tenant’s dog bites someone or another tenant at the property.
Victor’s Advice: The answer to this question is too detailed for this article, and California premises liability law is still evolving, however keep in mind that the primary consideration that will be taken into account is your knowledge or reasonable opportunity to know of the likelihood that the animal is a danger to others. Certainly, the type of dog and its prior history in the property will be relevant to such considerations.
Question to Victor: Can I serve a tenant with a 3 day notice for a property in REAP.
Victor’s Advice: Yes, you may serve the tenant the amount that REAP has set, but be sure to check with REAP to see whether the tenant has paid REAP directly. For those readers who are unfamiliar with REAP, it constitutes the “Rent Escrow Account Program” in Los Angeles that regulates rents for units deemed to be in substandard conditions.
Question to Victor: Is there any way I can stop a tenant from just getting up and leaving a unit in the middle of their lease.
Victor’s Advice: No. A tenant may vacate your unit at any time, however you still have rights to sue for the breach of a lease including all of the future rent you will be losing until a replacement is found.
Question to Victor: My landlord hired a lawyer who keeps sending several threatening letters to me alleging things that are not true and scaring me that he intends to evict me, what can I do.
Victor’s Advice: You should immediately respond with advising the landlord and his
attorney that you dispute all of the allegations and to instruct them to
cease the harassment. As a tenant you also have rights, and should
not be bullied just because the other person has a lawyer. You
should consult with a lawyer so a response can be prepared that
assertively addresses their threats and gets your message across.
Victor’s Advice: Someone told me that I have to pay the interest on the security deposit to the tenant even though the building is in rent control, is this right.
Question to Victor: Sounds like your tenant’s giving you advice, it does not sound right since you are not in rent control.
Question to Victor: What is the consequence of demanding rent above the MAR (maximum allowable rent) in a rent control jurisdiction.
Victor’s Advice: A landlord who demands rent in excess of the MAR may be held liable for the excess charged, interest, attorneys fees, costs, and even punitive or treble damages. Definitely not a good idea.
Question to Victor: A judge dismissed my eviction since I was late to court, can he do this.
Victor’s Advice: Yes. This can be easily corrected and your case will be reinstated if the reason was due to your inadvertence or excusable neglect. See a lawyer.
Quote of the Month: “..I am moving by the end of the month and do not want to cause
Victor Hairapetian is an attorney licensed to practice law, and has conducted thousands of evictions in California. Feel free to submit your questions to him, and have them answered in the Apartment Management Magazine, or otherwise feel free to contact his office for any questions at (818) 500-9881 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.