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Three of your burning questions about renting in L.A. answered

Written by
Time Out Los Angeles editors

Being a renter or owner in Los Angeles is hard, but Rental Girl founder Elizabeth McDonald knows how to succeed at both. Have questions? She has the answers.

Q: The handyman my landlord hires does shoddy work. Can I demand a better repair person? —Steve, Topanga

A: Bad news: As a renter, you're stuck with your landlord's opinion—and his pocketbook. Your only recourse is to move out, unless the repairs pose a hazard, in which case you can file a complaint with HCIDLA.

Q: If I'm charging for classes or dinners that I host in my apartment, do I have to let my landlord know?—Kelley, Culver City

A: All standard rental agreements in L.A. have a clause about not running a business out of a rental property. This clause originates from the City of Los Angeles, which regulates what we can or cannot do on a property in the way of zoning and land use. If the property is zoned for residential use, then you are restricted to using the rental for living only. Worst-case scenario: The city ends up penalizing the homeowner (your landlord), who then evicts you. Yikes!

Q: I've been fixing up my place for years, but now I'm moving. Is there a way to get my money back? —George, Echo Park

A: Nope—sorry, George. Not only that, but the landlord can demand you return the unit to its original condition or send you the bill if he has to do it himself. Always get written permission before making any improvements or repairs. 

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