Uprooted, and they are none the richer for the experience

Special to The Times

Question: During a recent fumigation, we had to be out of our apartment for two nights. The landlord deducted two nights' rent, but the costs of lodging and meals came out to much more than that. Who is responsible for the expenses that are not covered by the two-night rent deduction?

Answer: Generally, you are responsible for those expenses. Assuming the owner has a written lease or rental agreement with you that specifies that the rent will be abated if you have to vacate the apartment for fumigation or if he or she needs to perform cited or needed repairs, which is probably the case, you are responsible for the additional expenses.

Absent a specific provision covering this situation in the rental contract, the law requires the owner to negotiate something reasonable with you, which, of course, is open to widely varying interpretations.

In Santa Monica, however, and possibly some other cities in California, owners are required to relocate their renters during fumigation work and to cover their expenses for meals and other incidentals.


Insisting that kids make 'no noise'

Question: I remember reading an article that said landlords could not send a letter to tenants about their children making noise unless they sent the same letter to tenants in the building who do not have children. I got a letter addressed to my husband "and all other occupants" today stating that we are failing to comply with the rules. Specifically, it says the children are too noisy. It also says, "Children are not allowed to run around the premises." I have yet to check with my neighbors who don't have children to see if they also got the letter, but if they haven't gotten the letter, do I have a discrimination case?

Answer: Probably not. I had a column not too long ago that said that owners couldn't make different rules for children than for adults, which may be what you are thinking of. Your situation is different from that. Apparently, the "no-noise" rule already exists and is the same for all occupants. If the landlord made different rules about noise or running around the property for adults and for children, that would be discrimination.

There is no law that says you have to send the same letter about complying with the rules to everybody all the time, and it doesn't make a lot of sense to do so. Most tenants comply with the rules. There would be no point sending letters to tenants about something such as making noise or running around the premises if violating those rules doesn't concern them. I presume the adults in your apartment were not running around the premises or you may also have been referenced in the notice.

Another thing that may have confused you is the language on the notice that says it includes "all other occupants." It means all other occupants in your unit, not in the building.


Rent can rise 6% under L.A. law

Question: I live in Studio City, and my lease expires in October. What is the maximum rent increase my owner can give me?

Answer: Under Los Angeles city rent control, the maximum inflation rent increase the owner can give you is 6%. To get that 6%, the owner must pay both your gas and electric bills. If so, the owner is allowed a 1% raise for each, or 2% total; added to an allowable 4% annual hike for inflation, that comes to 6%.

Otherwise, all rent-controlled owners in the city of Los Angeles are allowed only the 4% rent increase after July 1. As has been the case for several years, rent increases are limited to 3% before July 1.

If your apartment is not under rent control, the landlord can raise your rent to the market level if it is not already there.


Kevin Postema is the editor of Apartment Age magazine, a publication of the Apartment Assn. of Greater Los Angeles, an apartment owners' service group. E-mail questions about apartment living to AptlifeAAGLA@aol.com.

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