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Tenant/Landlord Disputes

How Do I Get Repairs?

Student Housing

Tools For Renters: Sample Letters

Need Housing?

Tenant/Landlord Disputes

Rent Increases

  • The city of Long Beach is not under rent control
    • What this means:
      • Your landlord may increase your rent as many times and as much as they would like as long as they properly notify you of the rent increase
    • Your right as a renter:
      • If the proposed rent increase for the tenant is 10% or less than the rent charged to the to tenant, the landlord must give the tenant a 30 day written notice informing the tenant of the rent increase before it can become effective
      • If the proposed rent is greater than 10%, the landlord must give the tenant a 60 day written notice informing the tenant of the rent increase before it can become effective

3 Day Notice to Pay or Quit:

What is a 3 day notice to pay or quit?

  • This is a written notice from your landlord saying that you owe back rent, and that you must say the rent or move within 3 days.
  • A landlord must give you this kind of notice before he or she can legally evict you for not paying rent

When will I get a notice like this?

  • Your landlord usually gives this notice when he or she thinks you are behind in your rent
  • Your rights as a renter:
    • The notice is not valid if served before your rent is late
    • Example: If your rent is due on a Saturday, Sunday, or holiday, rent is actually not due until the next working day. If your rent was due on the 1st and it fell on a Saturday, your rent can be paid on Monday and will not be considered late until Tuesday

What do I do if I get a 3 day notice?

  • If you want to remain in the apartment, and the amount the notice says is correct, you should pay the rent due within 3 days.
  • The notice should include the name, telephone number, and address of the person who the payment is owed to, pay attention to the notice to make sure you’re paying rent in the way the notice asks you too.

Do I have to leave my apartment within 3 days once I get the notice?

  • You do not have to leave your unit after receiving a 3 day notice
  • To evict you, your landlord has to file a case in court after the 3 days on the notice has passed
  • Your rights as a renter:
    • You do not have to move out until a judgment has been entered against you and a Sheriff proceeds with a legal lockout
    • There may be reasons that you do not have to pay the rent demanded in the 3 day notice and you will have a chance to state these reasons in court

Counting the days on the 3 day notice:

  • Start counting the day after you receive the notice. You have up to Day 3 to pay
  • If the last day is a holiday, you can pay on the next working day

What kind of 3 day notice is legal?

  • All 3 day notices to pay rent or quit must have at least the following:
    • Must be in writing. A verbal demand is not valid
    • It must give you the chance to pay the rent or move
    • It must state the accurate amount of rent you owe
    • The notice must be properly served. Someone must personally hand the notice to you or to someone who lives in your house or apartment.

Can my landlord mail me the 3 day notice?

  • No. Your landlord must:
    • Give you the notice in person
    • Leave it with someone at your home who is of suitable age
    • Leave it at your work, and if it is left with someone, a copy must be mailed to you
    • If no one of suitable age is found, or your work place is not known, the notice must be taped to your door and a copy must be mailed to you
  • **Note: If you actually did receive the 3 day notice, the judge will probably disregard any problems in the way you were served**

What if my landlord says I owe more rent then I actually do?

  • If the 3 day notice says you owe more rent then you actually do, the notice is not valid
  • Your rights as a tenant:
    • Your landlord cannot evict you based on an invalid notice
    • You may write your landlord a letter stating that the notice is wrong
  • If the notice demands less than you owe, your landlord may still be able to evict you based upon this notice, even if it is wrong
  • If you think that the amount of rent being demanded is more than can be charged under the rent control ordinance, you can file a complaint with the Housing Department of the City of Los Angeles by calling 866-557-7368

How Do I Get Repairs?

  1. Mail a short letter (see page 7) to the landlord, describing the problem. Date it, sign it and keep a copy. It is best to use certified mail, receipt requested, so you have proof that you sent the letter. You should give your landlord 30 days to repair, once s/he has been notified, unless it is an emergency repair.
  2. Take pictures of the problems/problem areas in case you need them for evidence later.
  3. If you live in the city of Los Angeles, San Pedro, Wilmington, or Harbor City:
    Call the Systemic Code Enforcement Outreach Program (SCEP) at (866) 557-7368, and the Los Angeles Health Department at (888) 700-9995.
  4. If you live in the city of Long Beach:
    Call the Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services at (562) 570-4132, and the Long Beach Building and Planning Department at (562) 570-2633.
  5. If you live outside the city of Los Angeles, call the appropriate health department:
    • Compton (310) 605-5509
    • Huntington Park (562) 345-6830
    • Torrance/South Bay (310) 519-6060
    • Greater East L.A. area (562) 345-6830
    • Long Beach (562) 570-4132
    • Inglewood/South LA (310) 519-6060
    • Culver City/Westchester (310) 665-8484
    • If your city isn’t listed, call: (626) 430-5200
    • Section 8 Tenants: If you get Section 8 housing assistance, call your worker, report the problem and ask for an inspection.

What Do I Do If My Landlord Still Won’t Repair My Apartment?

The three common remedies in California that tenants may use to force their landlord to repair their apartment or home are:

  1. Small Claims Lawsuit
  2. Repair and Deduct
  3. Rent Withholding

Important!
Before or while using these remedies one should file complaints with the appropriate government agency, see above.

  • Small Claims Law Suit
      • You can make the repairs yourself and sue your landlord in small claims court for the costs of the repairs:
        • If you are concerned that your landlord will attempt to evict you for non payment of rent if you repair and deduct or withhold rent; and
        • You don’t want to fight an eviction; and
        • You have sufficient money to both pay your rent and make the repair, you can elect to make the repairs yourself and sue your landlord in small claims court for the costs of the repair.
      • In order to use this remedy, you must:
      • Give your landlord notice in advance of the conditions that you want repaired
      • Keep a copy of the notice for your records.
      • Give the notice personally to the landlord and/or manager and mail it certified with return receipt requested. Do not send the notice by regular mail.

 

  • You must give your landlord reasonable time to do the repairs himself or herself

 

  1. “Reasonable time” usually means one month, but it depends upon what needs repair

 

  • Make the repairs, save the receipts, and sue your landlord in small claims for the costs of the repairs.

 

  1. You will use the receipts as evidence of the costs.
  2. Take pictures of the conditions before and after the repairs.
  • Remember!
    If you use this method keep paying rent on time.*The maximum you can sue for in California Small Claims Court is $7,500.
  • Repair and Deduct Laws
  • California has a law which allows you to repair certain conditions yourself (or have someone else do them) and deduct the cost from your rent.
  • This law has some strict requirements, and in order to use it, you must:
    1. Give your landlord notice in advance of the conditions that you want repaired; give the notice personally or mail it in a certified envelope.
    2. You must give landlord reasonable time to do repair him/herself unless it is an emergency
    3. Make the repairs, take pictures, and save the receipts
  • Remember!
    You can only spend up to one months’ rent twice per year if you repair and deduct.If you can get your apartment repaired using repair and deduct, do so first. Repair and deduct is useful for smaller things, like repairing screens, unplugging drains, repairing electrical outlets , purchasing trash cans, etc. But, if something larger is wrong with your apartment, like a leaky roof, then repair and deduct probably won’t amount to enough money to get the problem repaired. Then you may have to use another strategy.
  • Rent Withholding
  • Caution!
    Rent withholding should be used as a last resort because your landlord will probably try to evict you. You should talk to a lawyer before withholding rent. This method is more often successful if you can get all the tenants in your building to work together.

    1. The California supreme court says you have the legal right to withhold your rent if you have informed your landlord about serious defective conditions and your landlord hasn’t done repairs.
    2. If the condition would cost more money to repair than legally allowed if you “repair and deduct”, then you may want to consider using the rent withholding remedy.
  • How Do I Withhold Rent?
    1. Give your landlord notice in advance of the conditions that you want repaired
      1. A notice you can use is attached, called “Notice of Intent to Withhold Rent”
      2. Keep a copy of the notice for your records.
      3. Give the notice personally to the landlord and/or manager and mail it certified with return receipt requested. Do not send the notice by regular mail.
    2. You must give your landlord reasonable time to do the repairs himself or herself
      1. “Reasonable time” usually means one month, but it depends upon what needs repair.
    3. If the condition is not repaired, don’t pay him or her rent.
    4. Hold on to the money. Do not spend it. You will need to pay it back once the landlord repairs all the problems.
  • Remember!
    It is very likely that you will end up in eviction court if you withhold rent. It is difficult to win such cases without an attorney to represent you.
    Also: If you are outside the City of Los Angeles (or if you live in a single family house), you are not covered by rent control and so you can be evicted with a 30 day or 60 day notice without any cause needed.

    1. Withholding your rent does not mean you don’t have to pay the rent to the landlord.
    2. Chances are, when the landlord either takes you to court or does the repairs, you will have to pay the back rent to the landlord
    3. So if you are serious about withholding your rent as a way to force your landlord to repair, save the money in a special bank account or buy money orders payable to your landlord every month and keep them until the repairs are completed.

Eviction Papers

If you receive a summons and complaint it is very important that you respond within 5 days. You can call the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles, and if you are eligible for our services, we may be able to do your answer for free. If you live in the Los Angeles area, call (213) 487-7609, and if you live in the greater Long Beach area (including San Pedro, Wilmington, and Harbor City), call (562) 435-3501 for an appointment.

Lead Poisoning

Lead is a heavy metal that is toxic to the body in any amount, and it most often comes in the form of dust from leaded paint in bad condition. If your house is old, chances are that it might have lead paint. Check for paint chips and holes in the painted walls, windowsills, and doors. Remember that lead dust is very small, hard to see, and easy to get into children’s mouths and onto their toys. Lead is a very serious health concern, particularly for children and pregnant women. Lead poisoning causes learning, behavioral, and growth problems as well as organ damage. Poisoned children usually never show symptoms, and the only way to check for poisoning is by having a blood test. For more information on how to reduce lead dust in the home, where to get blood tests, and how to do safe construction work: Call (800) LA-4-LEAD or (800) 524-5323.

Student Housing?

Housing can be a serious pain-point for students, and where a student chooses to live can have a significant effect on school performance and enjoyment. This guide from AffordableCollegesOnline.org takes an in-depth look at the various housing options available to students and the pros and cons of each. Key elements of the guide include:

  • A deep dive into the various on-campus housing options
  • Tips for finding (and keeping) good roommates
  • Advice for students looking to rent off-campus

This semester may already be underway, but the next one is coming up already, and students should be thinking about housing. Will you help us get this information out to as many students as possible by including our guide as a link resource on your webpage?

Tools for Renters: Sample Letters

Click any of the following links to download and use the corresponding Word document.

Notice of Habitability Problems
Notice of Intent to Repair or Deduct
Notice of Intent to Withhold Rent Money