landlord/tenant

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 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.

 

Santa Monica Landlord Learns There is No Silver Bullet to Oust Rent Controlled Tenants

Landlord, WIB Holdings, LLC found out first-hand on February 4th that there is no easy way to evict a rent-controlled tenant.  WIB sought to evict their low-income tenant, Paul Aron from his abode for which he was paying well below market value (about $1000 less to be exact).  The theory of the case was that Aron violated his rental agreement by making unsanctioned upgrades to his unit.  A Santa Monica jury ruled unanimously that Paul Aron, was entitled to remain in his home and to top it off, the City of Santa Monica is suing the landlord for harassment of its tenants.  

The various rent stabilization ordinances that dot Los Angeles County cities provide a safe haven for renters and a potential nightmare for landlords.  One of the most common questions we receive from our clients is how to increase their property values by removing low-paying tenants and replacing them with tenants willing to pay the current market value.  Our most common answer?  There is no silver bullet.

It is imperative that when you purchase a property, you consider the weight that rent control can play in diminishing your property's value.  Low rental income can decimate a cap rate making an income purchase a money drain.   If one does choose to take the risk, it is almost certain that he or she will end up paying dividends in either relocation fees or attorney's fees.

If you own a property under rent control and are looking at possibilities for eviction, be sure to contact The Rad Firm, APC at (310) 461-3766.  Our attorneys will help you carefully weigh your options to decide on the move that will work best to maintain the value of your investment.

For more information on the case that inspired this article, click here.

“How Long Does an Eviction Take?” and Other Important Questions

Rhino Neal /Flickr

Rhino Neal/Flickr

The Rad Firm, APC prides itself on staffing capable attorneys who can tackle the most abstract question but there are a few questions that plague just about every caller’s mind: 

1)   How long does an eviction take?

Multiple months without rent payments?  LAHD complaints?  Jury trials?!  Evictions can be a financial nightmare for a landlord.  As a landlord myself, I understand the stress a troublesome tenant can bring and just how important it is to get them out before they severely impact one’s bottom line.  

That said, most evictions take approximately six weeks from start to completion.  Factors to take into consideration include: 

·      Whether the tenant is represented by an attorney

·      Whether the tenant files motions

·      Whether a jury trial is requested

·      Where your case will be heard

2)   Where will my case be heard? 

In mid-2013, eviction cases were consolidated to four courts throughout Los Angeles County: Stanley Mosk Courthouse (Downtown Los Angeles), Santa Monica Courthouse, Governor George Deukmejian Courthouse (Long Beach) and Pasadena Courthouse.  This means that all of the eviction cases in L.A. County are now heard in only four courts.  

You can use the “Filing Court Locator” search tool on www.lacourt.org to see where your case will be heard.  Simply enter in the zip code of your property and the site will direct you to the proper court.

3)   What should be my first move?

Your first move, even before contacting an attorney, should be to shore up any Los Angeles Housing Department or Los Angeles Building and Safety complaints levied on the property.  If you have not yet scheduled repairs, schedule them before talking to an attorney.  Any unmade repairs can be hazardous or even fatal to your eviction case.

4)   What does “uncontested” mean?

Uncontested means that the tenant has not answered the lawsuit within the requisite amount of time provided under the law.  For instance, if the tenant is served with the complaint by personal service, the law allows them five days to answer the lawsuit.  If the tenant does not answer the lawsuit or file a motion within those five days, then the matter is uncontested and you can request a default judgment from the court.

Feel free contact us at The Rad Firm, APC with any of your landlord/tenant related questions or comment on this post to see your question appear in the blog.