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Landlord-Tenant Dispute Solutions

Last updated on February 8, 2024

At Goodkin APC in Los Angeles, we represent our clients both before and during leasing agreements in both residential and commercial situations. Our experience and skill are sought out to bring legally complex disputes to resolution.

Prior to signing a lease agreement, we can provide valuable oversight to the details of your intended arrangement; we can draft or review documents and negotiate for optimal terms for residential or commercial leases.

Considerations Before Entering A Residential Lease

Here are basic guidelines for avoiding disputes and common liabilities when entering into a lease for a residential property:

Know Your Lease Agreement

  • Read thoroughly: Every clause matters. Understand your obligations regarding rent, maintenance and use of the property.
  • Ask questions: If anything is unclear, ask before signing. It’s better to clarify than assume.

Maintenance And Repairs

  • Report promptly: Notify your landlord immediately of any damage or necessary repairs to avoid being held responsible later.
  • Document everything: Keep a record of all communication and repair requests for future reference.

Security Deposit Savvy

  • Initial walk-through: Document the property’s condition upon move-in to dispute any future claims against your deposit.
  • Know the law: California law specifies how and when deposits must be returned. Familiarize yourself with these rules.

Insurance Insights

  • Consider renters insurance: This can cover personal property losses and liability for injuries that occur in your rental.

For legal counsel before you sign any documents, contact our California real estate lawyers at Goodkin APC.

Navigating Commercial Lease Liabilities In Los Angeles County

Depending on the type of business you are operating, commercial leases in Los Angeles County can have a vast range of details. Some will be straightforward, others, not so much. It is crucial to comprehend your responsibilities. Read the lease thoroughly and consider the following:

  • Lease term and termination: Understand the length of the lease and conditions for early termination to avoid penalties.
  • Rent increases: Be aware of how and when rent can increase to prevent unexpected costs.
  • Uncover potential risks: Inspect the premises. Check for any existing damage or issues that could become your responsibility.
  • Review zoning laws: Ensure your business activities are permitted at the location to avoid legal trouble.
  • Negotiate terms: Work with the landlord to negotiate terms that are fair and manageable for your business.
  • Liability insurance: Obtain adequate insurance to protect against potential claims or lawsuits.
  • Legal advice: Your realtor cannot give you legal advice unless they are also a licensed attorney. Speak to one of our real estate lawyers at Goodkin APC to review the lease agreement and suggest necessary amendments to help avoid disputes.

There is no substitute for proper legal advice to help prevent costly tenant disputes. Knowledge and preparation are key to minimizing liabilities and ensuring your business thrives in its new location.

Residential And Commercial Landlord Advocacy

We also advise landlords regarding clauses to include in lease documents. For landlords, before finalizing any residential lease, consulting with an attorney is the best way to navigate the legal landscape safely and confidently.

Understand Common Liabilities

  • Maintenance: Landlords must keep properties habitable, or they may face legal action.
  • Security Deposits: California law limits and dictates how to handle these funds.
  • Privacy: Tenants have rights to privacy, making landlord entry without notice a potential issue.

Reducing Risks

  • Screening tenants: Conduct thorough background checks to find reliable renters; be mindful of not violating tenants’ rights and antidiscrimination laws protecting applicants and tenants.
  • Regular inspections: Schedule these to catch and fix problems early, avoiding bigger issues later.

Other Considerations

  • Insurance: Ensure you have adequate coverage for property and liability.
  • State and local laws: Stay updated on rent control and eviction regulations under the Los Angeles County Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protections Ordinance (RSTPO), Chapter 8.52 of the County Code.

California’s rental laws are intricate and frequently updated. You may not have the time to stay up to date on all of these complex laws. Our lawyers provide customized contracts and can tailor leases to your property while complying with state laws. If your situation changes and you need to terminate your lease, we can negotiate a lease termination with the best terms possible.

Compliance With A Real Estate Lease Contract

During your lease, we can provide counsel about compliance issues such as:

  • ADA standards
  • EPA compliance/environmental hazards
  • Code compliance/violation of lease terms
  • The Fair Housing Act
  • Rights and protections provided under the County of Los Angeles Retaliatory Eviction and Anti-Harassment Law
  • The Los Angeles County Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protections Ordinance (RSTPO)

The RSTPO is especially complicated. It is a local law that sets a yearly limit on the amount of annual rent increases and protects tenants from evictions without “just cause” for designated rentals in parts of Los Angeles County. Keep in mind that tenants in Glendale, Burbank, Pasadena, Downey and Torrance are not included in L.A.’s rent control law protections. Some residents of these areas mistakenly think Los Angeles’ rent control laws apply to their rental.

The Eviction Process In Los Angeles County

Landlords may attempt to evict tenants for any number of reasons, including:

  • A tenant’s refusal to stay current on rental payments agreed to in the lease.
  • A tenant’s reporting unsafe conditions to the government.
  • Wanting to increase the tenant’s rent as soon as possible.
  • Complaints from neighbors about noise or domestic violence.
  • Tenants allowing others not named on the lease to reside in the unit.
  • New pets.
  • Out-of-control garbage, bad smells or smoking on the premises.

This list is not exhaustive. Evictions can be complicated, and landlords must follow a lawful process to evict a tenant. They must give proper written notice to their tenant with the reason for the eviction, along with instructions on how to remedy the problem and when. Landlords cannot discriminate and evict tenants based on protected statuses, including race, color, national origin, sex, religion, disability or for having children.

There are several types of notices, including a 3-day Notice to Quit demands the tenant pay rent, fix a problem or move out due to a lease violation. Other types of notices are the 30- or 60-day Notice to Quit or 90-day Notice to Quit. A tenant must make a satisfactory response and take action within the time period given in the notice or risk the landlord filing a Summons and Complaint in court. This legal action will bring the eviction case before a judge’s court.

Upon receipt of the Summons and Complaint, a tenant can choose to file an Answer to the court within five days. If no action is taken, the judge can then order the tenant to vacate the premises.

If the tenant files an answer, a trial before the judge will be held to determine the next course of action. The tenant can provide defenses, such as they received improper notice, the landlord accepted partial rent in the past, the rental property is uninhabitable, or the landlord is retaliating against them for reporting shabby maintenance of the property. The tenant could also make a payment plan and ask for more time to pay rent, among other actions. The judge could still order the tenant to move out and could be liable for court costs. If the tenant does not move, the court involves the local sheriff for a forced move-out.

Representation For Eviction Issues

Lease violations or nonpayment of rent require landlord intervention but are bound by complex regulations and are time-consuming. Our firm represents landlords during the entirety of eviction proceedings and can enforce action after an eviction takes place, such as the collection of unpaid rent and fees.

Learn More Today

Whether you are a landlord or tenant, Goodkin APC provides trusted legal advice for your leasing arrangements. Our lawyers provide skilled negotiation, mediation options and intelligent litigation strategies to resolve your landlord-tenant related problems. Find out more about the services our attorneys can provide for you. Give us a call at 310-853-5730 or contact us online to schedule an initial consultation at our Los Angeles office.