Is there any way to impose a rent increase on tenants with a lease or do you have to wait until the lease is expired? Can you raise rents on specific units and not all units?
You have to wait until the lease expires unless the lease term contained an automatic rent increase. If there is an objective business reason, you can raise rent on some units and not others, as long as it does not violate fair housing laws. Many owners increase the rent on the tenants’ anniversary dates.
I have a tenant who has been late with the rent on a number of occasions. I charge him a late fee and he pays it. When his lease expires, do I have to renew?
Unless you are in a rent-controlled city, you are not required to renew a tenant’s fixed term lease and do not need to have or state a reason for non-renewal.
We want to give notice to vacate to a renter of a garage who has been in occupancy for over one year. Can we give a thirty-day notice or does the sixty-day notice rule apply for garages as well?
You can give a thirty-day notice. Sixty-day notices are only required for residential property when the tenant has been in possession for one year or longer and the rental agreement is month-to-month.
My tenant fixes his motorcycle in the living room of his apartment. I have warned him that he did not have a right to use our apartment as an auto repair shop. He says as long as he leaves the apartment clean, he has the right to work on his motorcycle. What should I do?
You should review your lease to see if he is breaching any particular condition of promise. If not, and you are on a month-to-month tenancy, you could threaten to serve him with a thirty-day notice to quit, or to change the terms of tenancy. If you are not on a month-to-month tenancy, you must find a breach and serve a three-day notice to comply. If he fails to meet the demands of the notice, the eviction lawsuit may be filed.
I am the resident manager of an apartment complex where we only offer one year leases. After six months, one of our residents gave me a thirty-day notice because he lost his job. I informed him that a thirty-day notice is not effective during a long term lease, so he wrote me a letter saying he was leaving because of the loud noise coming from the swimming pool late at night. He said his attorney said he could legally do this. Is this true?
It appears that the real reason for leaving is his inability to continue to pay rent, but even if there was disruptive behavior in the swimming pool, he could not legally quit the premises unless he could prove that you were negligent in maintaining peace and quiet in the apartment community.
If you took reasonable steps to maintain the quiet enjoyment of the property, the resident is required to pay you for the remainder of the lease term.
Are the laws any different between “motels” and “apartments”? Where could I get a booklet or more information on this matter?
The laws are significantly different between motels and rental housing. For instance if a motel customer fails to pay, the police can be immediately called to remove the customer. In a residential rental dwelling such as an apartment, however, the owner must go through the tenant eviction process to regain possession. You may be able to obtain information from the California Lodging Association and the California Apartment Association.
I am an owner of several small apartment buildings. What legal responsibility and liability does an owner have for changing locks when changing tenants?
An owner or manager of rental property is held to the same standard of care that would be required by a reasonable and prudent owner or manager in like circumstances. In other words, if one of your residents claims they were robbed or injured by someone who had a key to their apartment, they could claim you were responsible. They could prevail in court if the trier of fact believed that a reasonably prudent owner/manager would have changed the locks when the former resident vacated the rental unit.
I have been asked by another property manager if a former tenant of mine caused any problems and if I would rent to him again. I suspected that he was a drug dealer or at least a drug user but I cannot prove it. What can I tell her?
If you are unsure, you should remain silent. From a legal point of view, it is always safest to say nothing. However, if you choose to do so, you should only reveal information, if any, that you know to be true and can be documented. When making a recommendation, you are always running the risk that the person you are referring to believes you are defaming their good name. Making timely notes of what you said and who you spoke to, will be valuable if you are questioned about the conversation in the future. Discuss only facts that pertain to compliance with your lease or rental agreement.
I suspect there are at least five people living in a one-bedroom apartment in one of our units. The lease only allows three persons and they have not paid rent. I want to serve a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, but I do not know all of their names. What should I do?
If you serve a three-day notice, address it to the occupants for which you have the names and also to “all others in possession.” If they pay the rent, however, you may have agreed to the additional people living there. If you do not intend to allow their occupancy, you could also serve a three-day notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit requiring that the
additional people vacate within three days. If either or both of the notices are not complied with, you can commence with an eviction in court.
A tenant of three years recently vacated with only a verbal two-week notice. Can she be charged for unpaid rent? She did not have a lease agreement and never signed anything stating that she would give a thirty-day notice.
If the rent is paid monthly and there is no term stated in the lease, written or verbal, the law presumes you are under a month-to-month agreement which requires a thirty-day written notice to terminate. If no written notice was given, the former tenant owes rent up to thirty days or until the time you relet the premises (you have to try), whichever occurs first.