Landlords who own rent-controlled property often wonder if they have to pay relocation fees when they are evicting a tenant in a non-conforming unit who has stopped paying rent. In our experience, landlords feel that they should not pay relocation fees if they are evicting a tenant for non-payment of rent. However, because the non-payment of rent is coupled with the fact that the tenant is housed in a non-conforming unit, relocation fees are required to evict the tenant.
Under section 151.09(A), Subdivision 1, of the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO), a landlord of a rent controlled property may bring an action to recover possession of a rental unit if, “the tenant has failed to pay the rent to which the landlord is entitled.” (LA Mun. Code §151.09(A)(1)). This reason does not fall under Section G’s reasons for termination of tenancy requiring relocation fees, so in an eviction for non-payment of rent, no fees are required.
However, under section 151.09(A), Subdivision 11, of the RSO, a landlord of a rent controlled property may also bring an action to recover possession of a rental unit if, “the landlord seeks in good faith to recover possession of the rental unit in order to comply with a governmental agency’s order to vacate the building housing the rental unit as a result of a violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code or any other provision of law.” (LA Mun. Code §151.09(A)(11)). But, when a landlord evicts under this section, the landlord must pay relocation fees. (LA Mun. Code §151.09(G)). This means that even if there is also another reason for eviction (non-payment of rent), if one of the reasons fall under this section, the landlord must pay relocation fees.
In Salazar v. Maradega, a landlord attempted to regain possession of a non-conforming garage unit after the tenant stopped paying rent. The California Court held that a landlord evicting a tenant due to non-conformity falls under the above section of the LA Rent Stabilization Ordinance. In addition, the court found that the landlord must pay relocation fees in order to regain possession of that unit, even though the lease was void and unenforceable and the landlord was unable to collect any rent. (Salazar v. Maradeaga, 10 Cal. App. 4th Supp. 1, 3, 12 Cal. Rptr. 2d 676, 677 (Cal. App. Dep’t Super. Ct. 1992)).
Relocation fees can range from $7,300 for tenants living in a unit for fewer than three years to $9,650 for tenants who have lived in a unit for three years or longer, but can go up to $18,300 for qualified tenants who are over 62, handicapped, disabled, or have children under 18 living in the home. (LA Mun. Code §151.09(G)). There may also be an increased fee for those whose household income is below 80% of the Area Median Income. (LA Mun. Code §151.09(G)).
In addition to the fees paid to the tenant, the landlord evicting based on a non-conforming unit will also have to pay the City a fee for the purpose of providing relocation assistance. This fee can be $640 for a unit housing qualified tenants, or $400 for a unit housing other tenants. (LA Mun.Code §151.09(G)).
The attorneys at Schorr Law have handled plenty of rent control evictions. For help obtaining possession of a unit, contact us at 310-954-1877, email@example.com or by using the contact us box on this page.