Requirements When Leasing to Non-English Speakers

The Los Angeles rental market is incredibly diverse and with that diversity come thousands of foreign-language speakers who are not comfortable dealing in English .  So what happens when you try to lease your property to someone who only speaks a foreign language?  The answer is that there are specific requirements you must meet to ensure your lease is valid and enforceable.

The Background

Initially California law was not sympathetic to the plights of non-English speakers in this context, reasoning that one’s duty to read and understand should trump the need for different language versions of the lease. By 1978, though, California decided on a different course to prevent landlords from defrauding tenants by enacting California Civil Code section 1632.5.

California’s legislature built the law with very specific immigrant groups in mind, choosing very specific language speakers -- Spanish, Russian, Armenian, Tagalog, Chinese -- to make up the words of the statute.  As to be understood by the statute’s language, other language speakers are not to be excluded. That means that even when negotiating a lease with a person who speaks a language rooted in the most obscure of the world’s 197 countries (here’s looking at you, East Timor) you will need to follow the legal protocol or the lease will be void.

The Requirements (Choose One)

1.  Provide a Translated Version of the Lease in the Tenant’s Primary Language Before He or She Signs the Lease Agreement

    If the lease is for a period of one month or more, you must provide a translation of the lease agreement prior to having the tenant sign the English version of the lease agreement.  Translation is also required for any subsequent document that makes substantial changes in the parties’ rights and obligations but is not required for items incorporated by reference like rules and regulations.

2.  Have Tenant Bring a Translator

Encourage your prospective tenant to bring a translator with them to go over and sign the lease agreement if option one is not plausible.  The translator can be any person over the age of 18 who is fluent in both languages and cannot be affiliated with the landlord in any way so the court can ensure that there is no deliberate mistranslation of the lease.  

    If you need assistance with this process or if you have already leased your property without following this process, contact The Rad Firm, APC to get explore your options (310) 461-4766.

 

Top 5 Law Blogs You Should Follow

Let's fact it, the law has a tremendous impact on how you run your business and while you can count on us to stay informed, it is important that you also have your own eye on the ever-changing legal climate.  There are many law blogs out there and very little time to read them, so we took it upon ourselves to curate a top 5 list of blogs worthy of your attention.

1) Wall Street Journal Law Blog 

The Wall Street Journal is known for its heavy hitting headlines and ability to break trending news so it is natural that it's law blog would make our list.  The WSJ Law Blog compiles case law, updates and trends into an easily digestible format that will leave you feeling up to date on the current legal climate. 

2)  SCOTUS Blog

"SCOTUS" is an acronym for Supreme Court of the United States so it stands to reason that the SCOTUS Blog would address all you need to know about the U.S. Supreme Court's docket. This blog highlights key decisions and analyzes the reverberations those decisions have on future cases and the way our country interacts as a whole. 

3)    Election Law Blog 

Author, Rick Hasen is a Professor of Law and Political Science at U.C. Irvine School who has taken his knowledge and passion for election law to the web.  He examines legislation, voting rights, the Supreme Court nomination process and everything else you need to know to stay informed this election season.  

4) Above The Law    

Above The Law is a cult favorite of first-year law students and seasoned legal professionals alike.  The blog takes on law firm culture and industry updates to give readers an insider look into the inner workings of the legal field.

5) Lawyerist

This blog is similar to Above The Law in that it is written from a legal insider's perspective. Lawyerist gets down to the details of running a practice, offers advice and profiles successful business models.  This blog is worth a read if you want to know what the legal industry is buzzing about. 


 

 

Top 8 Tips for Landlords with Medical Marijuana Dispensary Tenants

I have recently encountered multiple cases within the past few months involving issues specifically arising out of the leasing of Medical Marijuana Dispensary ("MMD") tenants.  As of 2014, Colorado residents over the age of 21 are legally allowed to posses and purchase an ounce of marijuana at a time. The law also allows the cultivation of limited amounts of marijuana in an enclosed, locked space.  However, California law is not so lenient and in fact The Los Angeles City Attorney Office is extremely meticulous when it comes to regulating MMD operations and tenancies.  It is for this reason that landlords should consider the following 8 tips when taking on an MMD tenant.

1.      Prop D Compliance or Bust

City of Los Angeles Proposition D was passed in May 2013 to regulate MMDs operating in the city.  Proposition D limits the number of MMDs permitted to legally operate in the city and imposes strict requirements on how the businesses are run.  It is imperative to ensure that your prospective or current tenant is in compliance with Proposition D to avoid legal liability that can arise out of maintaining an illegal business on your property.  Be sure to stay on top of tenants once compliance is confirmed with periodic check-ins to ensure they are still in compliance. 

2.     Play it Safe

Many MMDs operate on a cash only basis leaving them susceptible to increased crime.  It is important to require them to have a security guard present on-site during business hours to protect both them and neighboring tenants.  Security guards can also prevent on-site usage which is strictly prohibited.

3.     Candid Camera

Install surveillance cameras to keep the MMD and its members accountable.

4.   Odor Control

Require your the MMD to install an industrial grade filtration system to keep odors in check.  Heavy, unpleasant smells are cause for nuisance complaints that can bring landlords negative attention from the City Attorney.

5.     Light It Up

parking-multi-storey-car-park.jpg


Require your MMD tenant to upgrade lighting in the parking lot so it is secure from crime and on-site usage. 

6.     Spread the Word

Ask the MMD to post specific signage restricting use on the premises and in the surrounding neighborhood.  If restrictions are violated, the MMD should take measures to suspend or revoke the offending member's membership rights.  Parking lot signage is also key to ensure high-volume MMDs do not monopolize available parking.

7.     Selling vs. Cultivating

Educate yourself as to the restrictions Proposition D places on cultivating marijuana and selling marijuana at the same address.

8.  Compromise

Business relationships with MMDs can be difficult but when run properly, can also be very lucrative to both parties.  It is important to understand your respective bargaining positions and find a common ground to ensure the best possible outcome.  This is most often achieved by employing a third party, such as an attorney, to bring perspective to negotiations.  

Compromise is also key when dealing with the City Attorney's office whose focus is to find solutions before resorting to litigation. 


The Rad Firm, APC is equipped to help you should you be interested in bringing on an MMD tenant.  We can walk you through the process, draft a strong lease and advise you so that the relationship is a sustainable one.

 

Should the Obama administration step in?

The Los Angeles Times just published an article stating that The Obama administration has recently set out to implement restrictions on brokers intentions. They are stepping into broker- client relations to ensure that clients are being served to their best interest. Brokers are legally obligated to put their clients interests above everything else.

The Labor Department issued rules on Wednesday protection consumers. The rules will not officially be applied until January 2018 but are slowing progressing in the business. Currently when a consumer seeks financial advice, they may receive what they're looking for but it is possible for professionals to hide certain consequences.

 

To Invest Or Not?

Investment properties. People living in big cities especially LA or NY typically have either invested in property or at least thought about it at some point. Home prices have recently been bouncing back and it’s easy to forget about the renovation costs that go into fixing a property. Many first time buyers underestimate the hidden factors such as time, money and unexpected finances. Real estate investments are more complicated than investing in bonds or stocks.

Over the last few decades, technology has made it fairly easy to search for a real estate investment. These days there are many different ways to go about an investment property. For some it is far less intimidating to invest as a member of a group, yet others prefer to reap all the consequences and rewards.

The simplest form of investment is traditionally when a person buys a property and rents it out to a tenant. The owner, of course, is responsible for taxes, the mortgage, and other maintenance fees. On the surface, this seems like a great business venture. However, being a landlord can also be a huge nightmare. At our firm, many of our client are landlords who are unhappy with their tenants and need to break their lease, or have tenants evicted.

Our attorneys at The Rad Firm can tell you first hand how their clients feel when they have to file a lawsuit against their tenants; it’s usually their last resort to get their property back. Of course, no one wants his or her investment property to end in a lawsuit but it does happen more often than not if you aren’t careful with your research before investing in real estate. Our attorneys advise that you make an investment decision attentively and are more than happy to offer legal advise when considering a property. We believe it’s important to inspect every issue such as rental control properties, landlord-tenant relations, and management fees. The little things do add up.

Overall, a real estate investment can be a huge asset but can also turn into a catastrophe if adequate research is not done before investing in property. 

Legal Liability: Who is to blame in a share economy?

Most of us use a car sharing service at one time or another, whether it’s on the daily or just a one time ride to the airport. Online services such as Lyft, Uber and Car Share are all part of the sharing economy, which is increasingly popular these days. It’s easy to book with an app on your Smartphone, it cuts down your time and most importantly saves money. A majority of these services were born during the financial crisis between 2008 and 2010. Entrepreneurs had the opportunity to cut the middle man, as it benefits both parties. The people offering the services and the people using the services are both happy.

This sounds great, right? Everyone wins. But with these companies booming and multiplying, issues surrounding taxation, insurance and legal liability cannot be ignored. There has already been paramount cases such as the Relay Rides accident in April 2012, where a man in Boston lost his life during a collision and four passengers in the car were severely injured while using the car sharing service. 

States like California, Oregon and Washington are already taking action and have actually passed bills about car sharing. Courtesy of Gigoam, “AB 1871, states that the car sharing program is the owner of the vehicle for all purposes and assumes liability during rental.”

Airbnb had a similar incident when they were starting up which resulted in them creating a 24-7 customer service hotline for any customer complaints. Of course this does not replace renters or homeowners insurance, but it does seem like these companies are quick to find at least temporary solutions to keep their businesses running. All of these companies rely on ratings and customer reviews, so it's important the consumers are happy.

In short, the share economy is definitely more vulnerable to legal liability, they reap all the rewards but are responsible for all the consequences as well. 

Hackers 101: Are They Good or Bad?

    Hackers have infamously been portrayed in a negative light especially now with the recent dispute amongst Apple Inc and the FBI. The dictionary definition of a hacker states: 1. an expert at programming and solving with a computer. 2. A person who illegally gains access to and sometimes tampers with information in a computer system.

    The term “hacker” usually has a negative connotation. People assume a hacker is a thief, a con artist, or simply illegally breaking into computer systems for evil. But what a lot of people don’t know is that many big time corporations, such as, Google, Tesla, and Facebook, actually hire hackers to use their powers for good. These hackers are used to clean up, manage and just  overall make safer perimeters online for these companies.

 Not all hackers are the same; it comes down to their intent. The most popular hackers are White Hat and Black Hat Hackers. White Hat Hackers,also known as “ethical hackers” are the good guys. These types of hackers test security systems, perform assessments, check for vulnerabilities in soft wares and ultimately have good intentions.

    Black Hat Hackers are doing the exact opposite; they are illegally violating computer safety for personal gain or just mischievous reasons. They are the ones who are giving hackers a bad reputation, and most commonly known to the public and the ones people feel.

Ultimately, the intent of the hacker is what separates the bad guys from the good ones. After all, these individuals or groups have the skill set to bypass even the toughest security systems. At the end of the day there is good and bad in every craft but it’s the end goal that really makes the different. 

 

Who Wants to Play the Rent-Free Game?

It is astonishing how many services out there today are shamelessly running businesses to outsmart lawyers and landlords. These “Eviction Delay” services, aids tenants to buy more time, staying longer than their allowed time in their respective properties. Many landlords are blindsided by these efforts by tenants to scam them.

Tenants are increasingly using these methods, and many companies are not even secretive about their objectives. An LA business known as “866 Eviction” has a hotline tenants can call to receive information on how to delay evictions anywhere from 2 to 7 months. Many of these companies advertise themselves saying they can help you work the system and stay rent-free. Other tactics include tenants picking apart nitty gritty details in the paperwork of the lawsuit.

According to an article from the Los Angeles Times, David Lazarus, contract reporter, states that many tenants just move from home to home every few months, rent-free and have become court savvy in the process.

The delaying games begin shortly after the landlord brings forth an initial unlawful detainer. The real problem begins once the trial is requested. This can take several months. Tenants have the opportunity to make claims to delay the process. Tenants can say that they weren’t given a sufficient notice for example.

Courtesy of the LA Times, “Julian Moutan, 866-Eviction's office manager, told me the company "is just helping the little guy." He said a few months of rent-free housing isn't much to ask of landlords, "considering how high the rents are in California." These types of businesses say that they only have good intentions to aid tenants in a compromising situation. But it’s also difficult for landlords as well since they rely on their tenants rent as form of income. 

What to expect from Disney's Annual Shareholders Meeting

According to the Los Angeles Times, Walt Disney Co. is holding their annual shareholders meeting in Chicago in the Auditorium Theatre at Roosevelt University. It has been a long anticipated year for shareholders who are hoping that Robert Iger, the Chief Executive and Disney Chairman, will address issues in the shares 8% drop this year.

Disney will most likely highlight their upcoming release for Zootopia this week. The animated film is expected to have a successful opening weekend.

Furthermore, two proposals will be presented at the meeting, which will later be decided by 11 members from the board of directors. They will consider two shareholders proposals.

The first proposal, courtesy of James McRitchie, asks that investors vote on whether on not Disney should keep its charter and bylaws of voting requirements that calls for a greater than simple majority vote. According to the proposal, which is included in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, "Supermajority requirements are used to block initiatives supported by most shareholders but opposed by a status quo management."

Zevin Asset Management is responsible for the second proposal which asks the members to vote on whether Disney shareholders annual reports on Disney’s lobbying efforts should be made.

However, it seems like the board is not so pleased with this proposal on the grounds that Disney already shares information regarding its lobbying activities with the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate, which is required by law.

Disney’s annual shareholders meeting typically highlights its commercial TV success as well as its upcoming premieres to keep shareholders optimistic about the future of the company.

The Not-So Honest Truth About the Honest Company Inc.

Co-founder of the Honest Company Inc., actress Jessica Alba is currently being sued for her not so honest advertising for its sunscreen products. The Honest Company allegedly provides safe, natural and eco friendly baby products such as diapers, lotions and other bathing products. 

According to sources from ET, consumer Jonathan Rubin is suing the company for its misleading ads and ineffective products. The suit claims that the sunscreen contain synthetic and unnatural ingredients. 

Alba reached out to social media via Instagram with a photo taken overlooking the beach with her children by her side. She simply noted that they do not take consumer feedback lightly.

It seems to be that she does not directly address any claims made in the suit regarding the ingredients in the sunscreen nor the advertisements. The photo simply implies that she stands behind her products and uses them with her own children.

Should Apple Inc. Deny the FBI access to hack iPhone Devices?

In the last 48 hours, social media has been riddled with support and opposition to the "Message to Our Customers" published by Apple Inc. In short, the United States government has requested that Apple grant them access to bypass any iPhone passwords. This would grant the FBI the ability to access and unlock all iPhone devices. Creating such a technique would compromise iPhone and smartphone users privacy.

Supporters of the hack are arguing that it could be an efficient way for the FBI to prevent terrorism and stop it in its tracks, using the recent San Bernadino shooting as an example. They believe the FBI should intervene and that prevention overrules the protection of privacy for iPhone users. Furthermore they claim that the hacking technique has already been created and that it is pointless to deny the FBI access any longer.

However, those who oppose the hack and support Apple's final decision not to grant the FBI such a device, stand behind protecting privacy. If the power to unlock any iPhone device were to end up in the wrong hands the consequences could be disastrous. As Apple has stated, there is no guarantee that it will remain in the right hands and cannot be limited or controlled in any aspect.

It is safe to say that with many recent cases coming to light to the American public, people are fearful of future attacks but also the threat the government has implied on their privacy. It is unclear how much power is already accessible to the government regarding our personal privacy. The final outcome for now at least is that Apple stands behind it's customers and furthermore has gained even more trust from the American people for upholding its morals by denying the government access to such a controversial technique.

Pandora's Royal(ty) Problem

$90 million. 

That's how much Pandora is required to pay to record labels in royalties for pre-1972 recordings. In a settlement between Pandora and several record labels, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, Capitol Records and ABKCO Music & Records, has covered themselves through the end of 2016 for pre-1972 royalties. 

Pandora isn't the only coughing up back royalties to Labels. 4 months ago Sirius XM had to pay $210 million three months ago to resolve a similar case filed against them for pre-1972 recording royalties. 

LA Times has an interesting write up here

 

California Steps Up To The Plate: The Country's Strongest Wage Equality Bill Signed

On Tuesday October 6, 2015, Governor Jerry Brown signed the country's toughest wage equality bill into law. Effective January 1, 2016, California's Fair Pay Act is amended to add more teeth to the problem of wage equality.   

Here are the most important highlights from the Fair Pay Act: 

1. The new standard requires that employers must pay workers equal pay for substantially similar work. No longer is the comparable employee's title or even work location a factor. 

2. The burden is now on the employer to show that the wage differential is based one of more of the following factors:

a. A seniority system.

b. A merit system

c. A system that measures earnings by quantity or quality or production. 

d. A bona fide factor other than sex, such as education, training, or experience. This factor shall apply only if the employer demonstrates that the factor is not based on or derived from a sex-based differential in compensation, is job related with respect to the position in question, and is consistent with a business necessity. For purposes of this subparagraph, “business necessity” means an overriding legitimate business purpose such that the factor relied upon effectively fulfills the business purpose it is supposed to serve. This defense shall not apply if the employee demonstrates that an alternative business practice exists that would serve the same business purpose without producing the wage differential.

2. Employees can complain to the Labor Board if they believe they have been paid less than employees for substantially similar work. The Labor Board will investigate the matter, keeping the employee's name confidential.

3. Employees can not be discharged or retaliated against for seeking to enforce this law.

4. An employer can not prohibit employees from disclosing their own wages, inquiring into another employee's wages and encouraging employee's from exercising their rights under the law.

If you have questions about the new changes to the Fair Pay Act call The Rad Firm, APC at 310-461-3766. 

Sing It Out

How many times have you heard the song, "Happy Birthday To You" sung on a television show or film? Perhaps it's because singing the song publicly often came at a steep price.  It's relatively well known that the rights to the lyrics of "Happy Birthday To You" have been tied up preventing the public performance of the celebratory tune.

On Tuesday, August 22, 2015 a Federal Judge in the Central District of California granted a summary judgment motion against Warner/Chappell, who has enforced the rights to the song for plenty of years. Warner/Chappell has collecting approximately $2 million per year in royalties for the song. Mildred Hill and Patty Smith Hill, the original writers and sisters, transferred the rights to the melody of the song to Clayton F. Summey Company, who was later acquired by Birch Tree Group. Birch Tree Group was then later acquired by Warner/Chappell. Judge George H. King, however, found that the rights to the lyrics to "Happy Birthday To You" were never properly transferred from the Hill Sisters and are therefore in the public domain free to use by anyone. 

The next step in this lengthy battle, that's been going on since 2013, is to determine whether Warner/Chappell should be forced to return the royalties it has collected from the song over the years. In the meantime, creators should rejoice that their characters can celebrate their birthdays properly on the big and small screen without a hefty price tag. 

An Employee By Any Other Name, is Still an Employee

Classifying employees properly is imperative to avoid liability.  Ensuring employees are classified and thus paid properly should be of chief importance when starting any business.  American Homes 4 Rent, a company that owns and rents out 37,000 single family homes across the U.S., learned this lesson when it was slammed with having to pay over $400,000 due to misclassification of their employees, the LA Times reports.  The U.S. Labor Department held that American Homes misclassified employees by changing their titles in order to avoid having to pay said employees overtime.  

If you are building your business and are planning to take on employees or if you are already running a business with employees, it is advised that you contact a lawyer to ensure that you are properly classifying and paying those employees.  The attorneys at The Rad Firm, APC can make sure your employment relationships run smoothly, in accordance with both state and federal laws.   Contact us at (310) 461-3766 to determine whether you are properly classifying and paying your employees.

 

Starting Up? Inc. Has Your Commandments Covered

Starting a business can be incredibly daunting.  Between developing your product or service, running the business and promoting the business, a business owner's head can spin off into a thousand different directions.  Inc. has come up with ten commandments to keep your thought patterns in check and make sure you are on the path to success.  

New House? Hold the Lawn.

Proposals have been made in an attempt to conserve water here in California by only allowing one small patch of lawn for new California houses. The proposed regulation also includes plans to restrict the type of plants that will be allowed for new homes. Read more about the proposed rules and regulations, here.

 

Are you a property owner or an aspiring property owner? Don’t hesitate to give us a call with any questions!

Computer Screen to the Silver Screen

YouTube is not just a hotbed for cat videos or pranks, it's also a career starter. As an entrepreneur focused firm, we believe in the power of taking your career goals into your own hands. Nothing offers that power more than the web for content creators. YouTube stars Jenn McCalister and Lauren Luthringshausen are the latest mini-screen celebrities turned Hollywood starlets, in the upcoming film Bad Night. Check out this article from Kernel Magazine discussing how some of the "big guys" are starting to pay attention to the talent pool that YouTube fosters.

If you are ready to launch your own YouTube channel or have a web series in production, contact The Rad Firm, APC to make sure all of your legal ducks are in a row.