Owner con­tact info is avail­able but may not help in emer­gency

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS - By Anky van Deursen Van Deursen is di­rec­tor of Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Pro­grams for Pro­ject Sen­tinel, a Bay Area non­profit. Send ques­tions to info@hous­ing.org.

Ques­tion: I live in a large apart­ment com­mu­nity. For the most part, man­age­ment has been re­spon­sive to re­pair re­quests, but there have been times when it is un­avail­able for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time. I’m con­cerned that an emer­gency, such as a burst pipe, may oc­cur dur­ing one of these pe­ri­ods. I asked for the apart­ment com­plex owner’s name and con­tact num­ber, but the man­agers re­fused. How do I get this in­for­ma­tion?

An­swer: Find­ing the con­tact in­for­ma­tion for the owner of the com­plex may be pos­si­ble, but it may not be the best so­lu­tion to your prob­lem.

If a com­plex has 16 or more rental units, state reg­u­la­tions (Ti­tle 25, Sec­tion 42) re­quire the pres­ence of a residential man­ager on the prop­erty. If the lo­cal man­agers are ab­sent from the prop­erty for ex­tended pe­ri­ods of time, that ab­sence would vi­o­late this reg­u­la­tion.

In most sit­u­a­tions, lo­cal man­age­ment has the ex­per­tise and phys­i­cal prox­im­ity to deal with is­sues such as re­pairs, rather than an owner who may be more re­mote. How­ever, if you need to es­ca­late to the owner, most prop­erty owner in­for­ma­tion is avail­able, by street ad­dress, from county tax asses­sor records.

Also Cal­i­for­nia Civil Code 1962 re­quires that a ten­ant be pro­vided the name, tele­phone num­ber and usual street ad­dress of an owner or agent where per­sonal ser­vice may be com­pleted and to whom rent pay­ments can be made. The code states this in­for­ma­tion must be listed in each rental agree­ment or posted in at least two easyto-see places, in­clud­ing el­e­va­tors.

If you don’t have a copy of the rental agree­ment, you can re­quest one, and the prop­erty owner or their agent must pro­vide one within 15 days of your re­quest.

You may want to doc­u­ment the lo­cal staff un­avail­abil­ity in a writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion to the con­tact per­son as men­tioned in Civil Code 1962. If an emer­gency in­volves a sit­u­a­tion that falls within the land­lord’s duty to pro­vide a hab­it­able premises, such as ad­e­quate heat­ing, the fail­ure of man­age­ment to be present and to take rea­son­ably prompt re­pair ac­tion may en­ti­tle you to a rem­edy for dam­ages.

For more in­for­ma­tion, con­tact a lo­cal fair hous­ing or me­di­a­tion pro­gram, or Pro­ject Sen­tinel at (888) 324-7468 or visit www.hous­ing.org.

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