Los Angeles has a large rental population, In fact, it encompasses nearly 60% of the city’s residents. You have certain rights bestowed upon you that you should know in order to make sure your landlord is treating you fairly and fulfilling his/her legal obligations.

Everyone wants to live in harmony, but knowing your landlord’s responsibilities helps ensure he/she is not taking advantage of you.

Discrimination

Naturally, the city’s landlords are prevented from discriminating against you on the basis of the federal fair housing laws. Title VIII of the Civil Rights Act of 1968, which is also known as the Fair Housing Act, prohibits building owners from discrimination based on certain things, while California and Los Angeles have added their own categories. This covers the sale, rental, or financing of dwellings.

Between the federal, state, and local laws, an owner cannot discriminate against you on the basis of race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status (e.g. having children under the age of 18, pregnant women), disability (physical and mental), marital status, age, sexual orientation, source of income, student status, or arbitrary reasons.

If you feel you are a victim of discrimination, you should contact the Los Angeles Housing + Community Investment Department (HCIDLA) by phone, via the Internet, or walking into the Los Angeles office on Wilshire Boulevard.

Safety Standards

You have the right to live in a safe environment. In particular, there are specific building codes and standards that are in place to protect your health and safety. These cover apartment buildings, duplexes, single-family homes, and residential hotels.

There are obvious violations, such as broken doors and windows, faulty plumbing (e.g. a lack of hot water) and a rodent problem.

If there is an issue, the city recommends letting your landlord know. Then, if he/she does not sufficiently fix the issue, it recommends filing a report.

If the agency cites your building for violations, the owner has the opportunity to correct it. But, if this is not done in the stated time frame, the HCIDLA may take further action. This could include recommending that you pay a reduced rent under the Rent Escrow Account Program (REAP).

It is frustrating, but until this is put into effect, the Housing Rights Center, an advocacy group, recommends that you continue paying your regular rent. Both the HCIDLA and Housing Rights Center state that you can file a lawsuit to recover the amount later if the problem is not resolved.

Landlord visits

A landlord must provide you at least 24 hours’ notice before entering your apartment unless it is an emergency. This includes repairs, improvements, or providing potential new tenants with a tour.

Visits are restricted to standard business hours.

Security deposits

Your landlord must provide an itemized list detailing why he/she is not going to refund your entire security deposit. It needs to also include specific amounts deducted. For instance, a $200 subtraction in order to repair the window.

Providing there is not an issue, your landlord must refund the deposit within 21 days after you leave. The HCIDLA does not handle these types of disputes, however. This means you need to pursue your claim in the courts.

Rent Increases

This is fairly straightforward. If you have a lease, the owner can only raise your rent at expiration. A landlord can raise your rent anytime if you are a month-to-month tenant, although the law requires written notification. There are special rules for rent-controlled housing, limiting increases to once per year and how much it can go up.

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