Permissible rent increases & service of the notice

One of the most common mistakes we see at MT Evictions are improper rent increases, or failure to give tenants the correct notice of a rent increase. In an eviction proceeding, these missteps can not only result in the landlord losing his or her case, but the owner may even be on the hook for any rent money accepted as part of the faulty increase.

A tenant is not obligated to pay more in rent than the law legally allows, which begs the question of how much the landlord can legally raised rent. The answer lies on the length of tenancy and whether the property is located in a rent-controlled jurisdiction.

Under state law, there is currently no maximum limit for rent increases when the tenant is on a month-to-month agreement, but the owner must provide written notice. When this notice is required will depend on how far north the landlord intends to raise the rent.

Assuming the property is not subject to local rent ordinances, Civil Code 827 dictates this time frame.

» For rent increases that exceed 10%, 60 days’ advance written notice is required.
» Rent increases 10% or less require 30 days’ advance written notice.

Specialized rules in properties governed by rent control

Landlords of properties subject to the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance are prescribed specific rules relating to rent increases, not to mention registration of rental units, legal reasons to evict, and depending on the cause for eviction, relocation assistance that must be paid out to the displaced tenant. Here, we will focus on rent increases. 

Allowable increases under the Los Angeles RSO

For the fiscal year of 2018-2019, landlords may increase the rent by 3 percent. This requires a 30-day Notice of Change in Terms in compliance to the local ordinance rules.

Landlords may increase an additional 1 % if the landlord pays for gas and may increase it further by an additional 1 % if the landlord pays for water and power. Again, a written 30-day Notice of Change in Terms in compliance to the local ordinance rules is required.

Landlords may increase an additional 10 % if, and for each, additional occupant that has moved into the property within the last 60 days, and that is not included in the original written lease. Please note, however, landlords may not increase for the first child that was born in the unit. However, a landlord can do this increase for the second child, and any subsequent children born to any original lessee.

Proper service of the rent increase

Even if the contemplated rent increase is allowed under the law and the notice is properly prepared, it must be served correctly. We have seen countless cases where landlords cannot proceed with the eviction because service was defective. 

A notice of increase can be delivered in the following ways:

1) Personal service to the tenant(s). You must do so, with at least 30 days prior to the next rent due date.
2) Substituted service to any tenant(s) inside dwelling. You must do so, with at least 35 or 65 days prior to the next rent due date.
3) Mailing of the notice. You must do so, with at least 35 or 65 days prior to the next rent due date.

Note, as per civil code of procedure 1013 you must allow an additional 5 days to the notice time period. This means that a landlord should attempt to serve a rent increase at least 35 or 65 days in order for the notice to be legally enforced. Therefore, account for the possibility of the additional 5 days when deciding when you want your increase to take effect.

Potential pitfalls to watch out for

1) Assure that you are giving the FULL amount of time required by counting the 35 or 65 days manually, as some months contain 28, 29 or 31 days.

2) The time frame starts counting the day AFTER notice is served/given.

Rental property owners should understand the law is always changing at a breakneck pace, and it the landlord's responsibility to keep up. MT Evictions is dedicated to keeping you abreast of these changes and ensuring your rental business is in compliance with the law.

When in doubt, don't go it alone. Contact our office for clarification. 



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