Los Angeles City Housing Law:
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ ON ANNUAL ALLOWABLE RENT INCREASE
- Can the landlord charge for utility services?
Yes. The landlord may increase the annual percentage by 1% for gas and/or
1% for electric service which is available in the unit when such service
is paid for by the landlord.
- Does the 1% increase apply to hot water or gas used to heat water
in a common boiler?
No. Neither cost can be passed through to the tenant.
- When can the increase be higher than the annual allowable increase?
If the rental unit has not had an increase since 1976, then the landlord
can increase the rent by 19%, or if the unit has not had an increase since
1977, then the increase can be 13%. The 1% for each utility also applies.
- Are there exceptions to the annual increase?
Yes, in the case of a substandard housing unit for which a notice of non
compliance has been sent by building and Safety to the State Franchise Tax
- Can a security deposit, last month's rent, etc. be increased?
Yes, only by the annual allowable percentage and at the same time that percentage
is applied. A new landlord cannot ask for an additional security deposit.
- Is the landlord required to pay interest on security deposit?
Yes. A landlord that is subject to the RSO is required to pay a 5% simple interest
per annum on all security deposits held for at least one year. (Effective
Rental units subject to the RSO
Geographically, the RSO applies to the entire City of Los Angeles, which
includes San Pedro and the San Fernando Valley. Residential units covered
by the RSO, which must be registered by the landlord, include: apartments,
condominiums, town houses, duplexes, three or more dwelling units on the
same loft, mobile homes, mobile home pads, and rooms in a hotel, motel,
rooming house or boarding house occupied by the same tenant for 60 or more
- How will this interest be paid?
The landlord may pay the interest on a monthly or yearly basis, but in no
event less than once every five years.
- Can the landlord request the annual allowable increase if the tenant
has a two-year lease?
It depends on whether or not the increase violates the terms of the lease.
- Can a late fee be charged if a tenant is late with the rent?
if the late fee amount was part of the original rental agreement.
- When is rent considered late?
Rent is due on the day specified by the landlord. The Ordinance does not
provide for a grace period. A grace period exists only if it is part of
the original rental agreement.
FAQ ON ADDITIONAL TENANTS
- Can the landlord increase the rent for a newborn baby?
No. Unless it is the second minor dependent child born in the same unit
after 12/8/90. Multiple births shall be considered as one child added to
an existing tenancy.
- Is there a time limit after which the landlord cannot increase the
rent for an additional adult tenant?
No. the time limit only applies to a minor dependent child who occupied
the rental unit prior to December 8, 1990.
- Is the amount of the additional tenant increase subject t the annual
- Is a replacement roommate considered an additional tenant?
No. However, the landlord has the right to approve the new tenant.
FAQ ON INCREASES WITH APPROVAL
- Does the landlord need the tenant's permission to do a Capital improvement?
No. The landlord is required to give the tenant a 24-hour notice that he/she
intends to enter the unit to make improvements. If the tenant does not provide
the landlord reasonable access to the unit, the tenant runs the risk of
- Can a tenant object to the proposed rent increase?
Yes. After the landlord files an application with the RSD, the tenants are
mailed a Notice of Proposed rent increase. Tenants have 10 days (from the
postmark on the envelope) to submit a written letter of objection. the objection
cannot be based on the fact that the tenant did not want the improvement.
Objections can be made if the improvement was not completed , if the facts
were inaccurate, if the tenant moved in after the work was completed, or
if more than one year elapsed since the completion of the work.
- What can a landlord do if the tenant refuses to pay the approved monthly surcharge?
Failure to pay can result in tenant eviction.
- Can the approved surcharge be added to the security deposit?
YES. A security deposit is defined as rent, and therefore, the surcharge
can be added to the existing security deposit.
- Is there an appeal process?
- How long after the completion of the work does the landlord have to
apply for the increase?
The landlord must file the application within one year after the completion
of the work.
FAQ ON EVICTIONS
- What follows the 3 day notice to pay or quit?
If the obligation demanded (i.e., nonpayment of rent) has not been satisfied
within 3 days after the notice was given, the landlord may then file suit
in court to have the tenant evicted. An Unlawful Detainer is the legal name
of the suit the landlord brings to evict a tenant from the premises.
- How can I learn more about the Unlawful Detainer process?
Further questions should be directed to Los Angeles County Consumer Affairs
at (213)974-1452 or to the Municipal Court at (213)974-6128.
- What if the tenant pays part of his rent?
The landlord is legally entitled to the full amount of rent when it is due.
If only partial part is paid, the landlord is still entitled to file a 3-day
notice to pay or quit.
- What if the landlord refuses to accept timely rent?
It is illegal for a landlord to refuse to accept rent when it is due. Please
call Los Angeles County Consumer Affairs at (213)974-1452 for relevant State
Laws. The tenant may wish to send the rent due to the landlord via Registered
or Certified Mail (with a return receipt requested).
- Is there a grace period for late rent?
Rent is due on the day stated in the rental agreement. If that day has passed,
the landlord is entitled to file a 3-day notice to pay or quit. The landlord
may allow a grace period in a written rental agreement at the beginning
of tenancy. The law does not mandate a grace period.
- How long can a tenant remain in the dwelling without paying rent
if he is moving out or he is being evicted?
The tenant is responsible for rent for every day he remains in the unit.
The landlord may sue the tenant in court for any unpaid rent.
- Can a security deposit be used for a last month's rent?
No. If a tenant has not specifically paid a last month's rent when he moved
in, he must pay his regular rent during his last month of tenancy.
- May a tenant be evicted for keeping a dog when his contract has
a no-pet clause?
Yes. Keeping a pet when the rental agreement specifically forbids a pet
is a violation of the rental agreement.
- May a tenant be evicted for violation of his rental agreement?
Yes. Violation of a rental agreement is one of the eleven legal reasons
for eviction. The landlord must give the tenant a 3 day notice to cure or
- A tenant plays loud music during the night; other tenants are complaining.
What can the landlord do?
If the noise is excessive, regardless of the hour, the landlord or tenant
should contact the Police Department. Tenants who become a nuisance may
be subject to eviction.
- Can a tenant be evicted for selling drugs?
Yes. Permitting the rental unit to be used for any illegal purpose is legal
grounds for eviction.
- Is a tenant entitled to a notice before a landlord may enter the
Generally, a 24-hour notice is required. However, in the case of emergency,
this may be waived.
- May a tenant be evicted for not giving reasonable access to the
Yes. Refusal to grant the landlord reasonable access to the rental unit
(after 24-hour notice or in the case of an emergency) for the following
purposes is legal grounds for eviction: making repairs of improvements,
inspecting the unit as permitted or required by the lease or by law, or
showing the rental unit to any prospective purchaser or mortagee.
- What is the procedure of this type of eviction?
The lancers can give the tenant a 3-day notice to cure or quit. If the tenant
has not allowed the landlord reasonable access within 3 days after being
served the notice, the landlord is entitled to begin proceedings through
- May the tenant be evicted for having an unauthorized tenant in the
Effective December 8, 1990 a landlord may not unreasonably withhold authorization
for one additional adult tenant. In the absence of a written rental agreement,
if a landlord accepts rent from the unauthorized tenant, the courts may
decide that the landlord has implied authorization for the tenant to reside
in the unit.
- A tenant vacated an apartment and gave the keys to a friend who
is currently residing in the unit. What can the landlord do?
The landlord can evict the authorized tenant as well as the friend who is
a subtenant not approved by the landlord.
- What is a natural person?
Any owner other than a corporation or a partnership.
- What is the procedure to evict for an owner of family occupancy?
A Landlord must first be filed with the Rent Stabilization Division. Then
a copy of the Declaration along with a written 30-day notice must be served
to the tenant. Relocation assistance is required to be paid by the owner
within 15 days after serving the notices.
- Can an owner evict because he/she is selling the property?
No. selling the property is not a legal reason for eviction.
- May a tenant be evicted to install a resident manager?
Yes, provided that no alternative vacant unit is available for occupancy
by a resident manager; except that where a building has an existing resident
manager, the owner may only evict the existing resident manager in order
to replace him/her with a new manager.
- What is the procedure to withdraw a unit from the rental market?
A Landlord Declaration of Intent to Evict form is to be filed with the RSD
and a copy of the form, along with a written 30-day notice to quit, is given
to the tenant. The tenant is entitled to relocation assistance.
- Should the Division be notified if the unit is again re-rented?
Yes. It is the owner's responsibility to file a Notificaion of Re-Rental
with the Rent Stabilization Division.
FAQ ON RELOCATION
- How much notice is required for demolition to build condominiums
or conversion to condominiums?
For conversion to condominiums, a minimum of 180 days notice is required;
for demolition to build condominiums, a minimum of 120 days notice is required.
More information concerning these requirements can be obtained by calling
the Planning Department at (213) 485-6171.
- How do I set up an escrow account if I choose to do so?
The landlord may place the escrow account in any bank or other authorized
Escrow instructions must provide the following:
- For payments to tenants for
- first and last month's rent
- security deposits
- utility connection charges and deposits
- moving expenses
- for release of he remaining funds when the tenant vacates the
- for a dispute resolution process
All payments from escrow must be made within 3 working days of receiving
a written request for payment.
Payments must be made directly to the tenant upon presentation of a receipt
or to the recipient of the expense on behalf of the tenant.
- On what basis does a tenant file a complaint, and how?
- non-payment dispute
In an action by the landlord to recover possession of the rental unit, the
tenant may raise as an affirmative defense the failure of the landlord to
provide relocation assistance. A Complaint Form may be filed with the Rent
Stabilization Division for illegal eviction.
- Escrow Dispute
Dispute notices must be sent by registered mail or delivered to the Director,
Rent Stabilization Division, Los Angeles Housing Department, 400 South Main
Street, 6th floor, Los Angeles, CA 90013 on the 2nd working day following
presentation of the dispute notice to the opposing party. A copy of the
escrow instructions must accompany the notice.
FAQ ON OCCUPANCY LIMITS
- Can a tenant be evicted if the unit is overcrowded?
Yes. The terms of the eviction are determined by such factors as whether
or not the landlord knew the overcrowding and if he/she permitted it or
if the tenants are in violation of the rental agreement by allowing the
additional tenants who are contributing to the overcrowding. Call the rent
Stabilization Division at (213)847-7368 or 1(800)994-4444 for more information
on evictions. There are very specific procedures to be followed before an
eviction can take place.
FAQ ON REDUCTION IN HOUSING SERVICES
- Can the landlord reduce the amount of services while maintaining
the same rent?
No. If the service is reduced or removed, there must be corresponding reduction
- How is the corresponding reduction in rent calculated?
The reduction is equal to the market value of the service.
- What about a removal of such an item such as a refrigerator?
If the refrigerator was provided by the landlord at the beginning of the
tenancy, its removal would constitute a reduction in housing services.
- Does the lack of hot water constitute a reduction in services?
Yes. Tenants may also wish to contact the Health Department.
- What type of notice is required to increase or remove a service?
A Written 30-day notice is required under State Law.
FAQ ON COMPLAINT PROCESS
- Can a tenant file a complaint for harassment , non-return of security
deposits or rent increases not accompanied by a 30-day notice?
No. These issues are covered by State Law, and the tenant must contact Los
Angeles County Consumer Affairs for further information.
- Is there an appeal process if the landlord and/or the tenant objects
to the hearing officer's decision?