Tag Archives: Unlawful Detainer

Ensure Proper Notice When Filing an Unlawful Detainer

In the case of Long Beach Beach Brethren Manor, Inc. v. Leverett, LLBM appeals the judgment in its unlawful detainer action in favor of the tenant. Landlord contends the judgment should be reversed because the trial court erred in granting Tenant’s motion for summary judgment. Landlord originally filed its unlawful detainer on August 11, 2014, alleging defendant was a tenant, and that he failed to vacate the property after being given a 10-day notice to quit. The attached notice indicated it was served on defendant on July 29, 2014, based on an “incurable breach” of the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) rental agreement. The notice required Tenant “to refrain from disturbing the rights and comforts of other tenants.”

The notice stated that the Tenant breached the portion of the agreement by hitting another tenant on the shoulder three times, and by engaging in a physical altercation with a different tenant. The complaint for unlawful detainer requested possession of the property, forfeiture of the rental agreement, and damages. Tenant filed an answer on August 13, 2014, generally denying the allegations with some affirmative defenses.

Tenant then filed a motion for summary judgment, which stated that there was no triable issue of material fact regarding whether the notice to quit gave Tenant enough notice. Tenant argued the agreement should be interpreted to require 30 days’ notice to quit, and since only 10 days of notice were provided, Landlord’s unlawful detainer action was premature and fatally defective because of the inadequate notice.

The initial one-year lease had expired, and the agreement had been renewed for successive one-month terms there afterwards. Tenant used paragraph 9(b)(1) of the Lease, which stated that the landlord may end the agreement effective at the end of any successive term, “based upon either material noncompliance with this Agreement, material failure to carry out obligations under any State landlord or tenant act, or other good cause. When termination of the tenancy is based on other good cause, the termination notice shall so state, at the end of a term and in accordance with the termination provisions of this Agreement, but in no case earlier than 30 days after receipt by the TENANT of the notice. Where the termination notice is based on material noncompliance with this Agreement or material failure to carry out obligations under a State landlord or tenant act, the time of service shall be in accordance with the previous sentence or State law, whichever is later.”

Defendant brought forth the basis for the termination was defendant’s alleged noncompliance with the section of the agreement. Defendant was thus entitled to 30 days of notice, because this amount of time provided for more time for termination than was set forth by State law, which is only 3 days of notice. Plaintiff filed an opposition to this, contending the motion should not be allowed due to the agreement being interpreted as requiring only the notice required by State law of 3 days of notice.

The court then granted the defendant’s summary judgment motion because it had determined there was no triable issue of fact with respect to the 30 days of notice being required under the agreement. The court rendered judgment in defendant’s favor. Court of Appeals also affirmed the judgment.

This case is important for landlords to note that they should comply with whatever the terms of the lease agreement allow. The terms of the lease agreement can sometimes even supersede State law, so it is important to review prior to serving any notices on tenants.

Ellis Act Evictions in Beverly Grove

NBC recently featured a story about 18 families being evicted under the Ellis Act from their apartments in order for the owner to build an eleven town homes. The story is Beverly Grove Residents Face Eviction.

The Ellis Act is increasingly being used in Los Angeles to make way for new developments. The Ellis Act is used by developers and landlords to demolish existing apartment units in order to develop new condominiums or homes. Under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance, a tenant is allowed to receive relocation assistance after receiving a 90 Day Notice to Quit.

If a tenant is not out after 90 days, a landlord is within his rights to file an unlawful detainer and evict the tenant. However, disabled persons and the elderly are allowed to extend their tenancies for up to one year as long as they provide notice of the extension under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization and continue to pay rent.

If you have questions regarding the Ellis Act, please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220.

Section 8 Tenancies in Non-Rent Control Apartment Units

LAist recently posted an article regarding a landlord in in the Mid-City area of Los Angeles evicting all Section 8 tenants in an apartment building. Under Section 8 guidelines, a landlord is only required to serve a tenant with a 90 Day Notice to Quit stating that the landlord does not want to work with the Section 8 program.

A landlord in Los Angeles is allowed to terminate Section 8 tenancies when the apartment building is not subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. As a tenant in a non-rent control building, there are much fewer protections against evictions. The Section 8 tenants being evicted under this situation would not be entitled to relocation fees under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance.

Generally, an apartment building is not subject to Los Angeles’ rent control if the certificate of occupancy for the building was issued after 1978. Tenants in non-rent control buildings in Los Angeles can receive 3o or 60 Day Notices to Quit unlike tenants in rent-control units.

The article is “New Landlord Doesn’t Feel Like Housing Poor People Anymore, Tenants Say.” For more information regarding evictions of Section 8 tenants, please contact Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220.

Q & A Regarding Ellis Act Evictions

89.3 KPCC recently posted a questions and answer article regarding tenant’s rights under the Ellis Act. The article is informative for both landlords and tenants because it outlines what occurs during an eviction under the Ellis Act in the City of Los Angeles. The article is relevant for owners and tenants in units subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization.

I generally find that tenants have few rights to stay or “fight” the eviction under the Ellis Act; however, they would be entitled to certain relocation benefits and time frames to move. These issues are important as evictions under the Ellis Act are becoming more prevalent as landlords purchase properties to develop into condominiums, single family homes, or other non-rental uses.

The KPCC article is Renter FAQ: What to do if you get an eviction notice under the Ellis Act. Please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220 for more information.

Evictions Based Upon Airbnb Violations on the Rise

Although this article discusses Airbnb violations in San Francisco, the issues regarding when a tenant rents a unit on Airbnb is the same in San Francisco or in Los Angeles (or anywhere in California). The article is “Airbnb Violations Now Being Used More Often Than the Ellis Act in SF.” Most leases contain a clause that a tenant cannot sublease or assign a lease without the landlord’s permission. When a tenant rents the unit or  a space within the unit on Airbnb, essentially the tenant is subleasing the unit.

A sublease is a separate rental agreement between the original tenant and a new tenant who moves in temporarily or who moves in with the original tenant. The new tenant would be called a “subtenant” and the original tenant can be called a “sublessor.”

Under a sublease, the original tenant is still responsible to the landlord to pay the rent and is responsible for violations of the rental agreement even if the subtenant is the one causing the breach. A subtenant has no contractual relationship with the landlord, meaning that a landlord cannot evict a subtenant alone.

There are certain issues that arise when subleasing a unit. First, most leases do not allow subleasing without the landlord’s permission. Landlords are becoming more aware that tenants are renting their units on Airbnb, which could be a breach of the rental agreement.

Further, if you are subleasing, it is important that the tenant be in good standing with the landlord. For example, a subtenant who pays a sublessor can still be evicted by a landlord if the sublessor is not paying the landlord the rent. There are defenses and issues that may arise in this situation, but essentially if a sublessor breaches the lease by not paying the rent, all of the residents in a unit can be evicted.

If you are looking to evict a tenant based upon a violation of the lease or in a situation involving a violation of the rental agreement, please contact Attorney Anthony Marinaccio at 818-839-5220.


Ellis Act Evictions on the Rise in Los Angeles

KPCC is confirming that evictions under the Ellis Act are on the rise in Los Angeles. The Ellis Act allows landlords to get out of the rental business. It is usually used for condominium conversions and demolishing old units to make new condo units.

In Los Angeles, in addition to the provisions of Government Code Sections 7060-7060.7, the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (“LARSO”) also addresses the process for landlords wanting to evict tenants under the Ellis Act. I have written on the Ellis Act before and the many articles can be found here.

Under the LARSO, tenants are required to get a 120 Day Notice to Vacate, are entitled to relocation, and if they are disabled or elderly can elect to stay in the unit for up to one year. It is important to understand these provisions prior to starting the development process.

KPCC’s article “Ellis Act evictions in L.A. on the rise” provides some of the background on why these evictions are becoming popular and why we may see more in the future as housing prices increase.

Why a Landlord Should Act Quickly

Recently, a Santa Monica landlord learned that a landlord should quickly move to evict a tenant who has violated a term of a rental agreement or lease. By waiting too long to file an unlawful detainer, a tenant has a better defense that the landlord waived the breach or is “estopped” from pursuing the eviction.

In this case, the landlord filed an unlawful detainer, or eviction lawsuit, against a tenant for improvements that the tenant had made in the 1990s. The rental agreement prohibited a tenant from altering the premises without the landlord’s permission. These provisions that prohibit alterations without prior landlord approval are very common and I find them in nearly every rental agreement I see. Perhaps the landlord wanted the tenant evicted because his rent controlled apartment was only rented for $800/month when the fair market value is approximately $1,700/month. However, the ulterior reasons for the evictions should be irrelevant. Rather, the eviction was based upon a Three Day Notice to Perform or Quit.

The jury after hearing the unlawful detainer trial found that the landlord had waived her rights to file an unlawful detainer because the improvements had been performed over twenty years ago. A waiver is a voluntary relinquishment of some known right or privilege. Here, the landlord relinquished her right to require her approval for a tenant’s improvement because she had allowed the improvement for over twenty years previously.

This story provides a warning to landlords who wait too long to enforce a right under a contract. If a landlord waits years before actually enforcing a contract, then arguably the landlord has waived that right.

The full story can be found at the Santa Monica Mirror’s website here.

How Old Hollywood is Getting Evicted by New Hollywood

The L.A.  Times recently wrote about the eviction of tenants at Villa Carlotta, a Hollywood landmark located on Franklin Avenue. In addition to enforcement of rent due dates and other rental agreement provisions, the last tenants who paid their rent on time and did not breach any rental agreement terms are being evicted through the Ellis Act.

The Ellis Act provides that a landlord can evict tenants in order to remove the rental units out of the rental market. Most of the time the Ellis Act is used for development of new housing or condominium conversions. The L.A. Times article is Changing Neighborhood Engulfs Their Old Hollywood HomeAn eviction through the Ellis Act is a valid reason for an eviction under the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance. Although a tenant would be entitled to relocation fees, a landlord has the right to evict a tenant in order to remove the rental housing from the market. 

If you have questions regarding Ellis Act evictions, please contact Anthony at 818-839-5220.

How to Determine the Rent Due for a Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit

The Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit is the first document that precedes an unlawful detainer that must be served upon a tenant. It is important to remember than when filling out a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit that you properly fill out the amount of rent that is due. You cannot include late charges, utility charges, interest, or any other types of fees or charges that is not “rent.” Often times these items are called “additional rent” in your rental agreement; however, for purposes of California law (specifically Code of Civil Procedure Section 1161a) you cannot make such requests in a 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit.

Further, you cannot demand cash only in a 3 Day Notice. It is important to note that rent is always due in advance for the entire month on the date rent is due. For example, February’s rent is due February 1st, so a tenant is “prepaying” a landlord February’s rent to live in the rental unit in February.

It is important also to include all rent that is owed at the time you fill out and serve the Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit because otherwise a landlord may not be able to seek the delinquent rent as part of the unlawful detainer.

It is vital to have a properly filled out 3 Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. California law requires a strict interpretation of the requirements for a Three Day Notice, so if the Notice is not filled out properly, a landlord can potentially lose the unlawful detainer and start all over again. Therefore, before beginning an unlawful detainer, you should ensure that your Three Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit was properly filled out.

New Courthouses to Hear Unlawful Detainer Cases

Los Angeles County has two additional courthouses that will start hearing unlawful detainer cases starting in 2015. Unlawful detainers can be filed in the Van Nuys Courthouse and Norwalk Courthouse starting January 5, 2015.

If your case was filed in one of the hub locations prior to January 5, 2015, that courthouse will still hear the trial or other motions for the case. Previously, the hub courthouses for unlawful detainers were Stanley Mosk, Santa Monica Courthouse, Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse, Pasadena Courthouse, and the Michael D. Antonovich Antelope Valley North Courthouse.

Basically, the Norwalk Courthouse will begin hearing unlawful detainer cases for properties located in Lakewood, Compton, Lynwood, Norwalk, Whittier, South Gate, Huntington Park, Maywood, and Pico Rivera. The Van Nuys Courthose will beging hearing cases coming from the San Fernando Valley, including the communities of Van Nuys, Canoga Park, Valley Village, North Hollywood, Panorama City, Calabasas, parts of Woodland Hills, and Agoura Hills.

This list is not exhuastive, so if you have a question of where your unlawful detainer will be filed you can contact my office or the the Los Angeles Superior Court Filing Court Locator.

At Marinaccio Law, I offer flat fee evictions for cases where your tenant does not pay the rent. As part of the flat fee, I will also review Three Day Notices to Pay Rent or Quit. If a tenant files a responsive pleading, there are additional fees that could apply depending on the appearances in Court  and work required. Please contact Anthony at 818-839-5220 to set up an appointment.