Landlords Beware: “Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite”

Landlord Attorney in Woodland Hills - BedbugsMost of us are familiar with the little rhyme: “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite”.  This age-old rhyme has taken on a special meaning for Los Angeles landlords as Los Angeles juries have awarded bed-bug suffering tenants multi-million-dollar judgments.

The New York Times reports that a Los Angeles jury awarded tenants a $1.6m jury verdict against their landlord. The tenants initially notified the landlord that bedbugs were infesting their apartment. The landlord took swift action, instructing the tenants to throw away all their furniture (note that this is not necessarily the best practice — the Environmental Protection Agency recommends only throwing away those items that cannot be sanitized) and paid for the apartment to be fumigated. However, the landlord’s efforts to control the infestation failed. The tenants continued to be bitten and made many more complaints over the next four months before the landlord finally replaced the carpeting in the unit, which eliminated the infestation. Still, it was too late. The tenants sued and won. It is unclear if the landlord offered to compensate the tenants for the loss of their use and enjoyment of the apartment. However, had the landlord taken swift and effective action when first notified of the infestation, offered to pay the tenants to relocate temporarily, and perhaps even offered them additional compensation for their pain and suffering, it is certain the landlord would have prevailed at trial, minimized the judgment against it, or headed off a lawsuit altogether. (more…)

Death of a Resident in Your Mobilehome Community: What You Need to Know

It is often said that life is full of uncertainties, which rings particularly true in today’s world. Will the stock market rise or fall? Will real estate continue its downward trend? Will gas prices continue to skyrocket? When will Charlie Sheen suffer another “meltdown”?

On the other hand, you can find certainty in death and taxes. This article will give you an overview of which steps you, as owner or manager of a mobilehome community, should take upon the death of a homeowner in your community.

In a traditional landlord/tenant relationship, a month-to-month lease terminates upon the death of the tenant. In the mobilehome community, however, a resident’s death does not terminate the responsibility to pay the rent and utilities if the mobilehome remains on the space.

The Mobilehome Residency Law (MRL) provides limited rights to the decedent’s heirs, joint tenants or personal representative. Specifically, the MRL allows a homeowner’s heir, joint tenant or personal representative of the decedent’s estate, who gains ownership of a mobilehome in a mobilehome community as a result of the homeowner’s death, to sell the mobilehome in place in the community to an approved purchaser. This right, however, is conditioned on the heir, joint tenant or personal representative satisfying all of the deceased homeowner’s obligations under the lease. These obligations include satisfying the rent, utilities and maintenance obligations since the death of the homeowner and that continue to accrue until the date the mobilehome is sold. (Civil Code Section 798.78(a).)

One problem with this provision of the MRL that is of concern to you as a community owner, is that it assumes the person has a particular status (heir, joint tenant or personal representative). So, the question(s) for you as the community manager or owner are:

  1. How do you know who is legally entitled to access and potentially sell the deceased homeowner’s mobilehome?
  2. How do you ensure that a person claiming to have authority to act for the deceased homeowner is the legal representative of the decedent’s estate?

Continue reading …
Who Should You (as the Mobilehome Community Owner) Deal With Regarding the Decedent’s Estate?

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