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Frank Wei-Hong Chen

Frank Chen’s Answers

24,249 total

  • What points/authorities support Demurrer of unlawful detainer that lacks description of premises w certainty. CCP §1166(a)

    The description of the premises in the complaint does not match the premises as described in the attached Sixty-Day Notice of Termination of Tenancy. During remodeling the landlord moved my possessions into other rooms that were listed in the ter...

    Frank’s Answer

    An unlawful detainer complaint must describe the premises with reasonable certainty. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1166(a)(3).) Plaintiff's Complaint for Unlawful Detainer fails to describe the premises with reasonable certainty as required under Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1161(2), 1166, and 1166(a)(3), and therefore fails to state facts sufficient to constitute a cause of action against Defendant. (Code Civ. Proc. § 430.10(e).)

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  • What are the laws on shared utilities?

    I've lived at my place for over 2 yrs, there has always only been oral agreements and in the beginning electric was included a year later she states I need to pay an extra $50 a month for electric , ok I agreed to that. Last October she had sola...

    Frank’s Answer

    California law does not specifically regulate how landlords bill tenants for water and sewer utilities. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has held that it has no jurisdiction in the vast majority of landlord-tenant billing relationships. Because there is no direct regulation or guidance from the CPUC or statute, it is important that all facets of the landlord-tenant billing relationship for utilities be agreed to in writing.

    In California, if the utility meter for your rental unit is shared with another unit or another part of the building, then the landlord must reach an agreement with you on who will pay for the shared utilities.

    This agreement must be in writing (it can be part of the rental agreement or lease), and can consist of one of the following options:

    -- The landlord can pay for the utilities provided through the meter for your rental unit by placing the utilities in the landlord's name;
    -- The landlord can have the utilities in the area outside your rental unit put on a separate meter in the landlord's name; or
    -- You can agree to pay for the utilities provided through the meter for your rental unit to areas outside your rental unit.

    See California Civil Code Section 1940.9, which provides as follows:

    "(a) If the landlord does not provide separate gas and
    electric meters for each tenant's dwelling unit so that each tenant's
    meter measures only the electric or gas service to that tenant's
    dwelling unit and the landlord or his or her agent has knowledge that
    gas or electric service provided through a tenant's meter serves an
    area outside the tenant's dwelling unit, the landlord, prior to the
    inception of the tenancy or upon discovery, shall explicitly disclose
    that condition to the tenant and shall do either of the following:
    (1) Execute a mutual written agreement with the tenant for
    payment by the tenant of the cost of the gas or electric service
    provided through the tenant's meter to serve areas outside the tenant'
    s dwelling unit.
    (2) Make other arrangements, as are mutually agreed in writing,
    for payment for the gas or electric service provided through the
    tenant's meter to serve areas outside the tenant's dwelling unit.
    These arrangements may include, but are not limited to, the landlord
    becoming the customer of record for the tenant's meter, or the
    landlord separately metering and becoming the customer of record for
    the area outside the tenant's dwelling unit.
    (b) If a landlord fails to comply with subdivision (a), the
    aggrieved tenant may bring an action in a court of competent
    jurisdiction. The remedies the court may order shall include, but are
    not limited to, the following:
    (1) Requiring the landlord to be made the customer of record with
    the utility for the tenant's meter.
    (2) Ordering the landlord to reimburse the tenant for payments
    made by the tenant to the utility for service to areas outside of the
    tenant's dwelling unit. Payments to be reimbursed pursuant to this
    paragraph shall commence from the date the obligation to disclose
    arose under subdivision (a).
    (c) Nothing in this section limits any remedies available to a
    landlord or tenant under other provisions of this chapter, the rental
    agreement, or applicable statutory or common law."

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  • If a landlord files a UD complaint after a 3-day notice, why would they try to serve another 3-day notice for the same thing?

    I received a 3-day notice to pay or quit. I then receive a notice from the court that a UD had been filed, and there were 3 attempts at service after the date the UD was filed. The complaint has never been received either by posting or by mail......

    Frank’s Answer

    One can only speculate as to the landlord's intentions. It is possible that the original 3-day notice to pay or quit was somehow defective, such that the landlord could file an amended complaint for unlawful detainer based upon a corrected 3 day notice to pay or quit without having to file a new/second UD complaint. It is also possible that the landlord will dismiss the first UD and pursue a second UD. Generally speaking, the landlord cannot file two UD actions based upon the same theory (such as non-payment of rent). However, the landlord can file multiple UD actions if based upon different theories (such as expiration of a fixed term lease, failure to perform covenant or quit).

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  • How do I know if my unit is rent controlled?

    I live in a multi unit (5) building in LA that has a posted RSO certificate near our mailboxes. We have lived in the unit for just over two years and have never been given an RSO statement for our records. Our rent was increased recently by 3%. We...

    Frank’s Answer

    If there is a posted RSO certificate, most likely the building is subject to the RSO. To confirm, you can search the property address and look under the "Planning & Zoning" tab at:

    Here, the Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO) field will indicate Yes or No. For instructions, see:

    For additional information, see:

    You may be entitled to temporary relocation assistance if the proposed work qualifies within the scope of the Tenant Habitability Program. See:

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  • Can a landlord dismiss an unlawful detainer action unilaterally after tenant has filed an answer?

    I'm the tenant. My landlord filed a UD action (limited civil case) even though rents were paid and I have written proof confirmation (through his prior authorized 3rd party rent collector). I believe the landlord is retaliating and am considerin...

    Frank’s Answer

    Yes, the landlord has the right to unilaterally dismiss the UD action after the tenant answers. Often this is because the landlord realizes that there are weaknesses in the landlord's complaint and/or other viable defenses raised in the answer. A defendant's consent is not necessary for a plaintiff to dismiss prior to the actual trial in California state court. See California Code of Civil Procedure section 581, subdivisions (b) and (c). A defendant/tenant might be entitled to recover costs (i.e. the first appearance filing fee) when a plaintiff dismisses. However, you would not be able to pursue a malicious prosecution action unless you "prevailed" in the underlying action. To establish a cause of action for malicious prosecution, a plaintiff must prove that the underlying action was (1) terminated in the plaintiff's favor, (2) prosecuted without probable cause, and (3) initiated with malice. (Zamos v. Stroud (2004) 32 Cal.4th 958, 966, 973.)

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  • I settled with the contractors bonding company, my question is can I take him to small claims court too?

    The contractor abandoned the job at my home.

    Frank’s Answer

    Yes, if your damages caused by the contractor's abandonment of the project caused you additional damages not covered by the bond, you can sue for the remaining difference, either in small claims court (for up to $10,000) or in superior court.

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  • Haw do I collect my small claims judgment?

    The court awarded me $3K. Is the defendant given a fixed date to pay or do I need t action to collect?

    Frank’s Answer

    There are many different methods to collect a small claims judgment. See the various links under "Collect Your Judgment" at

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  • Can i sue my landlord for property damage to my car?

    About two years ago i asked the landord to put up security lights due to criminal activity he said yes but since then he never put the lights up which i have an since the initial incident ive had a car stolen from in front my house and a car set o...

    Frank’s Answer

    You can sue, but it is unlikely you will win. The threshold issue is whether the landlord had reason to anticipate risks of third party criminal activity (or other tortious conduct) on the premises. If the landlord had reason to know of a particular risk, he or she has a duty to warn tenants (or their guests and invitees) and to take reasonable security precautions for their benefit. (O'Hara v. Western Seven Trees Corp. Intercoast Management (1977) 75 Cal.App.3d 798, 803.) Premises liability is a form of negligence in which the landowner has a duty to exercise ordinary care in the management of the premises to avoid exposing persons to an unreasonable risk of harm. (Brooks v. Eugene Burger Management Corp. (1989) 215 Cal. App. 3d 1611, 1619.) A landlord's liability to tenants, and their guests and business patrons, for third party negligence or other tortious conduct is determined generally under the same rules governing liability for third party criminal activity. Thus, the existence and scope of the landlord's duty under the circumstances turns, fundamentally, on whether the third party conduct could reasonably be anticipated. (Robison v. Six FlagsTheme Parks Inc. (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 1294, 1300–1305.)

    Beyond proving "duty", you will also have to prove that installation of security lights alone would have prevented the type of crime committed.

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  • I have an ex parte motion. The court clerk told me to notify the other side. How do I notify them? Do I give them my motion?

    I have an ex parte motion tomorrow. The court clerk told me to notify the other side. How do I do that? Is there a preferred means of notifying them? Also, do I have to serve them with a copy of my motion or just send it without service? Or do I e...

    Frank’s Answer

    You can give ex parte notice either by telephone or by fax. Pursuant to California Rules of Court, Rule 3.1203(a), a party seeking an ex parte order must notify all parties no later than 10:00 a.m. the court day before the ex parte appearance, absent a showing of exceptional circumstances that justify a shorter time for notice. Rule 3.1204 requires that the person giving notice must state with specificity the nature of the relief to be requested and the date, time, and place for the presentation of the application; and attempt to determine whether the opposing party will appear to oppose the application. An ex parte application must be accompanied by a declaration regarding notice stating the notice given, including the date, time, manner, and name of the party informed, the relief sought, any response, and whether opposition is expected and that, within the applicable time under Rule 3.1203, the applicant informed the opposing party where and when the application would be made; that the applicant in good faith attempted to inform the opposing party but was unable to do so, specifying the efforts made to inform the opposing party; or that, for reasons specified, the applicant should not be required to inform the opposing party.

    If your case is in the Orange County Superior Court, most judges rules require you to e-file the ex parte application ONE DAY BEFORE the ex parte hearing. For specific times, refer to the courtroom requirements of the specific judge assigned to the case on the following list:

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  • UD - Default Judgment Possession only

    I'm the landlord (Los Angeles) and often file eviction on tenants myself. I recently was able to obtain a default judgment for possession only. Money is not owed. Normally tenants leave and I have never gotten this far. I now have to file the writ...

    Frank’s Answer

    Yes. In Los Angeles County, you will also need to concurrently file an Application for Issuance of Writ of Execution/Possession/Sale form, which can be found online at:

    Once you obtain the original writ, you then present the original writ and three copies, sheriff's instruction form (see link below), and $145 fee deposit, to the sheriff's branch office serving the subject property. See:

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