Can a California resident manager (of a 75-unit apartment building), and the property owners of that building, refuse to accept the complete and timely payment of rent from a tenant (whose rental unit is also covered by the Los Angeles RSO)?
After being told by the resident manager that rent from this tenant will not be accept, the tenant proceeded to issue payment directly to the property owners via USPS Certified mail. The envelop containing payment sent via Certified mail was sent back, unopened.
Once they were mailed back, there was an attempt to understand why rent was not being accepted (no reason was given up to this point). The resident manager then accused the tenant of having an additional person (besides himself) living in the unit,
prohibited by the signed rental agreement.
This accusation was not true but a Three-Day Notice to Cure or Quit (for breach of
covenant) was drafted and delievered to the tenant from the property owner's attorney.
The only witness stated on the notice was the resident manager. The notice stated that the tenant could cure the breach by contacting the signing attorney directly. Instead, a written statement was drafted and given to the resident manager.
That statement rebuffed the accusation being made.
At this point, the tenant's connection to the building's visitor call box was disabled. Rent was refused again the following month by both the resident manager and the property owners. As before, the tenant attempted to issue payment directly to the property owners via USPS Certified Mail only to have it returned. At that point, the tenant returned to the resident manager for an explanation whereupon the tenant was informed that he had too many visitors to his apartment and needs to move.
Whether or not the tenant did indeed have "too many visitors" has no bearing or justification when the is no stipulation on the lease as to the number of visitors this
tenant is allowed, especially when this tenant is not loud, has no complaints by other tenants, and the tenants visitors are not outside the unit causing any nuissiance to other tenants or the property.
Keep in mind this apartment building has 75-units, is several stories, with over 200 residents, many of them children.
Rent was again refused a third and fourth straight month. At this point, the tenant was issued a 3-day notice to pay or quit. It was followed by a 30-day notice to vacate. The notice had listed each of the four months that the tenant's rent was not accepted.
Also, listed next to each of those months was an additional $2.96 which was labeled as the SCEP. Landlords can recoup fees they pay for the annual registration by tacking on $9.35 to a tenant's rent in the month of June only, and may divide that amount by 4 installments.
The months in question for non-payment of rent are Feb, Mar, Apr, May. Just to point out, on April 21, the tenant recieved his annual notice for the $9.35 fee which the notice states is to be included in his June rent. The notice was directly addressed to the tenant & unit by name & number and signed by management.
A Notice of Unlawful was issued to the tenant by the County Court was issued that fourth month, followed by the Summons to the hearing but before the schedule hearing date, an Unlawful Detainer Stipulation & Judgement was agreed and signed by parties.
In it the tenant agrees to all with the claims against him, forfeits his rights under the rental agreement, the property owners are awarded possession of the rental unit and the tenant is given a little over 30 days to comply and vacate the premises. It also
states that "court records" will remain sealed so long as the tenant complies with
the vacancy deadline.
The tenant had hired a lawyer but she did not appear in court, and instead sent her
assistant (who is neither a lawyer or certified paralegal) to the signing of the stipulation & judgement. This assistant didn't advise the tenant, instead just told him to sign this and that form. On the Stipulation & Judgement form, that assistant signed as being the interpreter (the tenant only speaks Spanish) and employed by some legal counsel foundation at an address that is not the lawyers place of business. I'm no lawyer but I know a $700 fraud when I see one, or hear one lol.
Anyway, a Writ of Possesion was issued 8 days before the deadline the tenant agreed to and vacated the unit on that day.
Since then, I have collected certified copies of the Declaration of Registration of the apartment building to verify if the unit is indeed covered by the LA RSO, it is. I have also discovered that the unit vacated by the tenant is now occupied by the resident
manager's sister. I verified whether a Declaration of Intent to Evict had ever been
filed because I am not too sure if this might apply to this specific situation- being the
reason for eviction was stated as failure to pay rent, and not to allow a family member to take possession of the unit.
Also discovered that just months prior, the resident manager terminated the building maintainence person and the building janitor (reasons unknown but CA is at-will). Both those positions included a rental unit as part of their compensation packages. The resident manager filled those terminated positions with her husband and mother (who now live in those apartments once occupied by the previous two workers).
Pretty much circumstantial at this point but those extra tidbits of information do seem to establish the possiblity of a thought out motive for the eviction of three long term tenants (two of which are employees) in place of family members.
Other facts that pertain to this- the tenant has occupied the unit for 12 years, has never been late with rent, has no issues or complaints from the previous manager (who was replaced 1 year before) or any tenants, the original lease was 6 month and being under LA rent control, the rental unit had an incredible deal of a monthly rental fee.
The lone issue or incident for the tenant was a fire that broke out in the rental unit in
question that required the fire department to respond. I also obtained a copy of the report from the Fire department, it states the fire cause of the fire was due to illegal wiring and started from one of the electrical sockets.The manager refused to make any
repairs to the unit (front door, 1 wall, and a window were broken from the fire & firemen getting to the flames). The manager informed the tenant to first pay for the repairs. The tenant did not and instead made the repairs himself.
The fire occured 1 month before the tenant recieved the first 3-Day Notice.
And just to get all the facts in there, no deposit was returned, no interest that the
deposit was entitled to was ever given and no itemized statement was ever given or mailed to the tenant.
So with all that said, can CA resident managers and owners of the property refuse to
accept rent that has been issued in the full amount and timely manner in which is stated in the rental agreement? There is nothing under the LA RSO that pertains to this scenario.
I've also found on numerous forums that where others have stated refusal to accept payment in the specific manner in which the tenant attempted to issue payment is illegal and considered payment paid in full upon refusal by Certified Mail though I cannot pinpoint the exact code, stature or law that states this. Anyone know if this is in fact true? And whether it is a federal or CA state law?
Also, what options, if any, can be taken from this point if we believe to have enough to convince a judge that the eviction was illegal and both the resident manager and
property owners conducted business in a way that ignores and violates both City RSO and State law?
Because of the eviction, the tenant has been unable to find a rental unit anywhere in Los Angeles, each potential lessor stating they cannot rent to the tenant because of his past eviction. So at this point, I think relocation fees under the LA RSO are the
least and 1st form of compensation this tenant is entitled too.
I am aware that a tenant can be evicted for no cause of their own, but because of LA RSO, tenants evicted for no cause, or other specific conditions, are entitled to relocation fees.
I think both the eviction for family occupancy (and non Declaration filing) or eviction to allow property owners to remove that rental unit from RSO rules and jack up
the rent are both good angles.
If the option to bring a civil suit does exist, I think it would be smart for the tenant to state that he is gay and the person the resident manager accused of living in the tenants unit is in fact the person he is dating. Anyone can come to their own conclusions past that.
And finally, what options does this tenant have at possibly bringing some sort of suit
against the incompetent lawyer and her assistant? Upon researching this lawyer, I found she has numerous disciplinary actions against her from the Bar and past law employers, the last resulting in a 2 year suspension, 3 year probation and orded to the the MPRE for writing herself checks against a client trust account lol. After requesting her legal representation in a tenant/landlord issue, it seems apparent that she has a dummy "foundation" set up that caters directly to non-English speaking immigrants and uses her assistant to "wrangle up some cattle" for her.
I think I covered everything. If anyone out there has any comments or suggestions, we would greatly appreciate any input.