Q: Can I terminate the lease of a tenant in a rent control area who has occupied the rental for less than 12 months?
We are in the process of completing the purchase for a duplex in Los Angeles (area code 90038).
The duplex is in a rent control area and the one side of the duplex is occupied by a tenant that signed to lease the property until 2021 for $800 below market value.
We were intending for the property to be income producing and because of this we will have to pay part of the mortgage out of pocket.
After doing some research I found this:
"Vacant Units and Removing Tenants: If a rental unit is vacant, a landlord is permitted to reset the gross rental rate for the unoccupied unit to market rental rates. (Civ. Code § 1947.12(b)). The statute, however, prevents a landlord from terminating the tenancy of a tenant that has continuously occupied a rental unit for at least 12 months, unless the landlord has “just cause” for removing the tenant. (Civ. Code § 1946.2(a)). The statute establishes two different “just cause”
Will we be within our right to break the lease?
A leasehold is an interest in property that runs with the land. The owner's right to occupy or convey his interest is impaired when there is a valid lease, during the term of the lease, and any other term extended by law (like a rent control statute or the Civil Code section you quote). Theoretically, the owner cannot sell the property free of the lease, and if a seller failed to disclose this there could be serious problems. BUT, having said that, everything is always subject to negotiation. Under the Civ Code, tenants can receive moving assistance if they are there more than 12 months; they are entitled to return of security deposits; they have other rights. You can always approach the tenant and offer to buy out their lease interest, and paying moving expenses, paying the full security deposit or some other kind of payment, can get the tenant to voluntarily move out, without an eviction. This is to everyone's benefit, you don't have to spend money on attorney's fees or risk a retaliatory eviction action, and they get some assistance to move. Conversely if you take the position that you are evicting them and they are not entitled to be paid anything, they have no incentive to do anything to help you, and are in a position to defeat any eviction action and counter sue.
Justia disclaimers below, incorporated herein.
Here is the updated version. While the current moratorium rules are in place you cannot evict a tenant based upon the information that you have given. The rules change fairly often but they have been giving tenants more rights - not less.
Encourage them to pay rent in the meantime; however, there are strict rules about 'harassment' of tenants by demanding rent when the tenant has already claimed their finances have affected their ability to pay rent pursuant to COVID-19.
Also there are notices that you need to provide them and you are entitled to 25% of the rent beginning September 1, 2020. There is information that you are also entitled to. You should consult an attorney.
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