Rental Roundtable
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Real Estate Today

Elevators Must be Inspected Yearly, Permits Posted

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Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
16-June-2002 Sunday

This column on issues confronting renters and landlords is written by Counselor of Real Estate and Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (9 a.m. Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet at, and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law firm representing landlords.

QUESTION: Is there any law regarding elevator inspections? There are no permits posted in the elevators where I live and when I last saw one, it had expired eight months earlier.

ANSWER: Kellman: Yes, there are most definitely laws regarding maintaining and inspecting elevators at your complex. The California Department of Industrial Relations Elevator Unit is responsible for inspecting elevators in California.

The law requires elevators to be inspected once a year. The Elevator, Ride and Tramway (ERT) unit issues permits, conducts inspections, and investigates complaints and accidents regarding elevators.

The next time you ride in that elevator, check to see if there is a permit which must be posted. If it is not posted, or if the annual inspection was not done, tell your landlord.

If that does not promptly rectify the situation, contact the ERT unit for assistance. You can reach the headquarters for all the Elevator District Offices at (916) 263-7995.

A rug's life

Can a landlord or their agent deduct money from my security deposit when I move out for carpet cleaning/repair even though they plan to replace the carpet with new carpet before the next tenant moves in?

Smith: As the landlord's attorney, I believe it is reasonable for your owner to deduct a carpet cleaning charge against your security deposit even though the landlord plans to replace the carpet when you vacate. California's security deposit law states that you remain responsible for reasonable cleaning to the rental. If carpet replacement is the only viable option then the landlord should be entitled to that entire cost.

I advise my clients to prorate the carpet expenses by comparing the customary life given to rental property carpet against the tenant's length of stay. Even so, if your landlord can prove that you caused most of the carpet damage while you were living there, then you will be responsible for the entire replacement cost.

Kellman: Now Ted, let's get real about this. How can the landlord charge to clean a carpet that will be thrown out before the next tenant moves in? I do not think the law will allow that. I am sorry for the landlord who is maybe trying to give some business to a carpet cleaner but that will have to wait for another day.

Clearly, the tenant is responsible for cleaning, assuming that the clean carpet will stay in service at the unit. Now, as to damage, the tenant is responsible for the cost of repair or replacement for damages done beyond ordinary wear and tear.

Also, the tenant can only be charged for damaging a carpet as against its depreciated life span. When a carpet is older than its expected life, it really has no value and the tenant should not be charged for damaging it.

Tool man

I have a four-unit building with a garage for one of the units. The tenant contends that I need to alert her 24 hours before I enter the garage. I have tools and other items in this garage.

Kellman: The laws and rights of tenants regarding the entry by a landlord apply to all the rented space in a residential situation, including a garage. These rights generally only apply to a garage when the tenant has the exclusive right of possession over that space (i.e., it is their garage as part of the rental agreement). In that case, you may not enter without a permissible purpose and then only after giving reasonable notice which is defined as at least 24 hours, except in an emergency.

The notice may need to be longer than that if the tenant has a good reason why 24 hours is just not reasonable under the circumstances. The situation may be different, however, if the garage is not specifically provided to the tenant and you typically share its use, like for storing and regularly accessing your own personal property. In that case, you may be able to enter it at any time without notice since it is a shared space and the tenant may not have exclusive rights to that garage.

Obviously, a rental agreement covering the use of the garage would be helpful. The code which governs entries by landlords in California is Civil Code Section 1954.

IF YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to answer your questions in this column, although letters cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O. Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail them at

Copyright Union-Tribune Publishing Co.

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Robert Griswold and the Real Estate Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and state fair housing laws.  As a reminder to all owners and managers of real estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference, limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex, physical disability, or familial status, or  intention to make any such preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local fair housing laws may also apply.  Be sure to inform all persons that all dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.


Revised and Updated - Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM, PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161


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