Tenant Q&A

I rent an apartment building in the City of Los Angeles. Does the landlord need to tell me whether or not my unit   is subject to rent control according to the city’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance?

Effective August 16, 2009, landlords who rent properties subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) must post a notice providing information about the RSO, as well as contact information for the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD). The notice must be given in a designated LAHD form and the notice must be posted in a conspicuous location in the lobby of the property, near a mailbox used by residents of the property, or in or near a public entrance to the property. The notice must be written in both English and Spanish, and any other languages required by LAHD. The amendment to the RSO requiring the posting of notice for RSO properties was adopted by Ordinance No. 180769.

Can my landlord go into my unit without my consent or without giving any notice to enter?

According to California Civil Code 1954, a landlord must give a reasonable amount of notice, in writing, of his/her intent to enter your unit. California Civil Code 1954 establishes that a 24 hour notice is reasonable. However, in cases of emergency, no notice is necessary. A landlord may come into your unit for the following: 1) to make necessary or agreed repairs, decorations, alterations or improvements, supply necessary or agreed services, or exhibit the dwelling unit to prospective or actual purchasers, mortgagees, tenants, workers, or contractors or to make an inspection pursuant to subdivision (f) of Section 1950.5, 2) when the tenant has abandoned or surrendered the premises, and 3) pursuant to court order. Except in cases of emergency or when the tenant has abandoned the premises, a landlord’s entry must be made during normal business hours unless you have given your landlord prior consent.

I recently lost my job and I am now receiving unemployment. Can a landlord refuse to rent to me because he/she does not consider an unemployment check to be a source of income?

No, an unemployment check is a legitimate source of income and therefore a landlord cannot deny you based on this alone. However, a landlord can refuse to rent to you based on a qualification that the landlord applies to every prospective tenant that applies to rent a unit at the property. Examples include only renting to applicants whose income exceeds three times the monthly rent amount or whose credit score surpasses a certain number.
Can the landlord keep my security deposit if I vacate my unit six months into a one-year lease?

Yes. A lease agreement is a legal contract and both you and your landlord are legally bound to fulfill it. As the tenant, you are legally responsible for the rent amount of the full lease term. According to California Civil Code 1951.2, which refers to a mitigation of damages, if you break your lease early your landlord can recover a prorated amount from your security deposit for each day that passes until the landlord, in a “good faith” effort, re-rents the unit. Also, the landlord can use your security deposit to advertise the unit as long as he/she advertises the unit in his/her usual manner. However, there may be an exception for domestic violence victims or for people with disabilities. 

I am currently looking for a rental unit to move into but am cautious due to all of the stories I have heard regarding the presence of mold and the health issues it causes. If a unit has mold in it, is the landlord required to tell me before I move in?

According to California Health and Safety Code 26147, residential landlords must provide a written disclosure to prospective and currenttenants of affected units whenthe residential landlord knows, or has reasonable cause to believe,that mold, both visible, invisible or hidden, is present in the unit or building and the mold exceeds thepermissible exposure limits. The written disclosure must be provided to prospective tenants prior to entering into the rental or lease agreement, and to current tenants in affected units as soon as is reasonably practical. However, a residential landlord does not have to provide a written disclosure to prospective tenants pursuant to this section if the presence of mold was remediated according to the mold remediation guidelines established by this same California Health and Safety Code [26130].

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