Renter cited for al­leged vi­o­la­tions

Los Angeles Times - - NEWS - Zachary Levine, a part­ner at Wolk & Levine, a busi­ness and in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty law firm, co-wrote this col­umn. Van­itzian is an ar­bi­tra­tor and me­di­a­tor. Send ques­tions to Donie Van­itzian, JD, P.O. Box 10490, Ma­rina del Rey, CA 90295 or noexit@mind­spring.

Ques­tion: I rent a con­do­minium unit in a home­own­ers as­so­ci­a­tion. I re­ceived a speed­ing ci­ta­tion that the se­cu­rity guard taped to my front door. I went to the of­fice to ex­plain that the ticket was is­sued in er­ror, but the man­ager said that only my land­lord could con­test the ticket and that “renters have no rights.” She then or­dered me to leave.

My land­lord said he didn’t want to deal with her and said I should just pay the ticket. In the three years I’ve lived here I’ve re­ceived no ci­ta­tions for any­thing. Since that day in the of­fice, I’ve re­ceived 12 ci­ta­tions in two months, none listed by the as­so­ci­a­tion’s rules book as of­fenses.

These ci­ta­tions in­clude sup­posed vi­o­la­tions for hav­ing porch light cob­webs, sun­shade touch­ing my bal­cony rail­ing, so-called de­bris on my pa­tio. The se­cu­rity guard said the cited de­bris con­sisted of one vis­i­ble cig­a­rette butt that some­one else must have thrown there be­cause I don’t smoke.

The man­ager is set­ting me up to be evicted. She ap­proached me in the park­ing struc­ture and said: “You are a renter. You have no rights. You might as well move out.” Is this true? An­swer: No, it is not true. Renters in Cal­i­for­nia have rights. In ad­di­tion to rights pro­vided by state and fed­eral law, you, as the ten­ant of an as­so­ci­a­tion mem­ber, have the right to use the com­mon fa­cil­i­ties, the right to be free from ha­rass­ment and the right to quiet en­joy­ment of your unit.

This in­cludes pro­tec­tion from the se­lec­tive en­force­ment of phony guide­lines, rules or reg­u­la­tions. There can­not be sep­a­rate rules for you or ar­bi­trary and un­equal en­force­ment of rules against you. Fines and penal­ties must be rea­son­able. Ci­ta­tions should be well sub­stan­ti­ated and ra­tio­nally re­lated to a le­git­i­mate pur­pose per­tain­ing to the vi­o­la­tion.

Check the as­so­ci­a­tion’s covenants, con­di­tions and re­stric­tions as well as its rules and reg­u­la­tions to de­ter­mine whether there is any ba­sis for the al­leged vi­o­la­tions. If penal­ties for these vi­o­la­tions ex­ist, they must be im­posed equally on all vi­o­la­tors with the at­ten­dant right to a hear­ing and op­por­tu­nity to present con­trary or mit­i­gat­ing ev­i­dence.

Re­gard­less of whether there is a ba­sis in the gov­ern­ing doc­u­ments for the ac­tions of the man­ager and the se­cu­rity guard, tap­ing a ci­ta­tion or any no­tice to your front door is not ac­cept­able. Meth­ods of in­di­vid­ual de­liv­ery are cod­i­fied in Civil Code sec­tion 4040, and tap­ing en­velopes to the door is not one of them.

If the as­so­ci­a­tion is tak­ing ac­tion to in­ter­fere with your rental and your land­lord is not tak­ing steps to as­sist you, then you may have claims against both the as­so­ci­a­tion and the owner of your unit. You pay your rent and you are en­ti­tled to use and en­joy the prop­erty to the fullest ex­tent pos­si­ble.

Cal­i­for­nia law cre­ates an im­plied covenant of quiet en­joy­ment in the prop­erty you rent even if your land­lord has never made an ex­plicit guar­an­tee of your rights. In­ter­fer­ence with that covenant con­sti­tutes a breach of your rental agree­ment, and the rem­edy for that is dam­ages.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.