By Kevin B. Postema
Q: I am the owner of a single-family residence in Los Angeles. I have two roommates who have full use of all the facilities, and I have a few questions.
What are their rights as tenants? Can I raise the rents? If yes, with how much notice? Can I request that they pay a portion of the utilities? And, finally, I do not claim this as income or claim the expenses on my income tax returns. Is that OK?
A: While your “roommates” have some rights, they don’t have as many as renters who are covered by Los Angeles’ rent control law (single-family homes are exempt from the law.)
Their basic rights include the following: The right to live in a habitable dwelling (which is usually not a problem when the owner lives on the premises); the right to quiet enjoyment of the premises (unless, say, they know when they move in that you are a rock musician who practices at home), and the right to reasonable notices of your intent to raise the rent or change any other tenancy terms or ask them to move out. The length of the notice is usually the same as the rental period, not exceeding one month.
As for the utilities, you may require them to share in their payment, but give them legal notice of your intention.
Lastly, you ask if it’s OK not to report the income (no) or expenses (yes, though illogical) on your taxes.
From “The Best of Apartment Life: How to Survive Apartment Living and Ownership,” by Kevin B. Postema.