Parking Assignment on Parkway Is Illegal

QUESTION: I am a tenant living in Hollywood. Is it legal for a landlord to assign a parking space to a tenant on one-half of the driveway between the street and the sidewalk, on what is commonly called the parkway? Isn't the parkway city property?

ANSWER: The answer to your question comes from Jim Fleck, the housing planning and economic analyst for the city of Los Angeles' Rent Stabilization Division. He had a similar personal experience.

"It was a couple of years ago," Fleck said. "I had a motor scooter and I couldn't get a parking spot in the city garage. I chained it to a tree on the parkway. After I got the ticket, I went to City Councilman Gilbert Lindsay, and then to Assistant City Atty. Gary Netzer. I can tell you categorically, there is no way the city allows parking on the parkway."

Fleck suggests that you talk to the landlord first and apprise him of the law. If he is unwilling to reassign you a parking space on his property or cooperate in some kind of a reasonable compromise, you should call the city's Transportation Department at (213) 485-2265 and report the situation to them.

Fleck reminds you that you can get a parking ticket for parking on the parkway, just as he did.

Rent Control and Damage From Quake

Q: I live in a rent-controlled apartment in Santa Monica. With the recent San Francisco quake, I'm wondering what will happen to me if an earthquake destroys this building. If that happened, and the landlord rebuilt the property, could I move into the new building? If yes, would my rent be the same as it is now or would it be higher?

A: An earthquake serious enough to destroy a building, even an unreinforced brick building, will give you a lot more cause for concern than your future rent level.

However, according to Tony Trendacosta, general counsel to the Santa Monica Rent Control Board, the rent board, the city of Santa Monica, the state of California or the federal government could enact emergency legislation to help the landlord who rebuilds in the wake of such a disaster, which could have some impact on rents.

Otherwise, the reconstruction could be considered replacement housing subject to the same rent level.

Landlord Wants to Join Apartment Assn.

Q: I am involved with rental property in the South Bay area and live in Hermosa Beach. I would like to know more about Apartment Age Magazine and if there is a local apartment association for me to join in my area?

A: The Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles (AAGLA) maintains an office in Torrance at 18039 Crenshaw Blvd., the phone number there is (213) 536-0281. As an AAGLA member you'll automatically get Apartment Age. I'm mailing you a copy for your information.

Didn't Sign Rental Pact, but Still a Tenant

Q: I have lived for many years in a rent-controlled apartment in Los Angeles with two other adult relatives. We all moved in here together. I have always paid my portion of the rent to one of my roommates, who has always mailed the rent checks. Now, I have a problem.

Recently, the landlord refused my rent check saying that I am not a tenant because I didn't sign the rental agreement. He claims that he has allowed me to stay only because the rental agreement says "three occupants." Is he right or am I a tenant and entitled to all the rights of the rent-control law?

A: You're probably safe if the landlord should try to evict you as an unauthorized subtenant. Even if you had lived in the unit for years and moved in after your two roommates, and the landlord knew of your presence yet took no action to remove you from the unit, he would be hard-pressed to evict you. In that situation, most courts would rule that he waived any right to evict you by allowing the situation to go on for so long.

As a tenant, you are entitled to all the protections of the L.A. City rent-control law.

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