7 Questions to Ask Potential Roommates to Avoid the Weirdos in Los Angeles, CA

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LOCAL RECORDS OFFICE — Choosing the right roommate is a big deal; it’s not like picking a girlfriend, a dog or a couch. The biggest problem is that you don’t know the potential roommate. You don’t know if this person smokes, has a criminal background, uses drugs or has mental problems.

The professionals at the Local Records Office created a list of important questions you should ask your potential roommate before letting him or her rent out a room to avoid headaches.

#1 – Do You Smoke Cigarettes or Marijuana?

Being a smoker is a deal-breaker for many people who rent out rooms. Smoking cigarettes isn’t just a disgusting habit but it makes the entire house smell like a chimney. Not to mention if there are kids in the property, it can be a serious health risk.

Recreational marijuana is legal in many states including; Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, D.C. Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, and many other states. Even though recreational marijuana is legal it is not legal nationwide. Many people still see marijuana as an illegal drug that might have neighbors complaining and even worst calling the police.

If you’re ok with a smoker you need to set rules on where he or she can smoke. For example no smoking inside the house, but it’s ok in the backyard and patio with the doors and windows closed.

#2 – Are You a Morning Person or a Night Person?

Morning people and night people don’t tend to mix well as roommates. The main reason being that you’re in opposite schedules. Night owls and morning birds don’t mix like chocolate cookies and orange juice.

A problem that might occur is if one person works during the day and wants to have friends over on the evening but this is the time when the roommate sleeps.

#3 – Work Schedule

A good question to ask is if he or she works in the morning or at night. This will give you an idea of when you guys will see each other. Another reason to check each other schedule is to know when one will need the bathroom to get ready for work. This will cause a problem if there is only one bathroom in the house or apartment.

#4 – Pets

The majority of people like pets but some people can’t be around them because of allergy issues. In some cases, people can’t even be in the same room where a pet has been in. Other people don’t like to hear dogs bark, while others don’t want to have kids near large dogs.

Knowing if a potential roommate has any pets before moving in will avoid future issues.

#5 – Working From Home in Los Angeles, CA

One of the biggest benefits of working from home is the peace, quiet and distraction-free environment. The last thing you will want is a person talking your ear off when you want to get work done.

Working from home has its benefits but it can also be a distraction with the wrong roommate.

#6 – Are You a Party Animal on the Weekends?

If you enjoy pre-gaming before going out to a game or club and hosting an after hour party at 2 am, rooming with a homebody can cause a problem.

Even if you and the roommate have similar work schedules some people might not want to stay up late.

#7 – Do You Pay Rent on Time?

Living with a roommate that doesn’t pay rent on time will be a big problem. This can cause issues with the lease agreement and can lead to an eviction. Make sure to know when they will have the rent ready and at what time.

Landlord From Hell – Local Records Office

Local Records Office – For 12 years, I’ve lived in the same apartment in Norwalk, CA. In the last year, it seems like my elderly landlord has developed dementia. He began leaving me notices, claiming I owed him back rent. I showed him and his lawyer 24 months of canceled checks, but they began eviction proceedings against me anyway.

Then my landlord became violent, punching my roommate before pushing his way into our apartment, where he menaced and threatened us, swinging a chair at me. When the police finally showed up, my roommate declined to press charges but asked that the landlord be evaluated at a hospital.

He was back home within two hours, cursing at me again. His daughter, who also lives in the building, has done nothing. My roommate moved out and I’m considering moving out, but I want to know what my next steps should be. My rent is a fraction of what apartments rent for in the neighborhood, and I suspect the apartment is rent-regulated, but I am not certain.

Should I cut my losses and get out? Sue for harassment? Or, knowing he’s a danger to the other tenants, try and get him removed from running the building?

Local Records Office says, “Your landlord may or may not have dementia, but he is certainly harassing you and your roommate, a practice that has become increasingly common as some landlords attempt to drive out longtime tenants in the quest for higher rent. Just consider his lawyer’s behavior: The lawyer is willing to begin eviction proceedings against a tenant who he knows has paid the rent. Dementia or not, those are some pretty aggressive tactics”.

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First, consider your immediate safety. Regardless of the type of lease you hold, you can seek an order of protection, commonly known as a restraining order, against your landlord in Thurston County criminal court, according to Shawn Carter, a real estate lawyer. This would protect you from continued harassment.

Ultimately, you need to decide if you want to stay, despite the stress of living there. If your apartment is rent-regulated — which is certainly possible — and you leave, you will be relinquishing a valuable asset, and your next apartment will undoubtedly be more expensive.

Consult with a lawyer who is well versed in rent regulation rules to figure out the status of the apartment, as it can be difficult to determine. If your apartment is, in fact, market rate, moving might be your only option. And although you could theoretically still sue your landlord for harassment after you leave, your damages would be minimal. “It would probably not be worth the effort,” Mr. Carter said

But if your lease is rent-regulated, you have some tools at your disposal. File a harassment complaint with the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, which oversees rent-regulated apartments. At the same time, file a harassment claim and what is known as an Article 7a proceeding in housing court.

The court could ultimately remove the landlord from managing the building — even if he owns it — and replace him with a court-appointed administrator. But in order to bring the 7a proceeding against the landlord, you would need at least one-third of the tenants to sign onto the case. So start talking to other tenants in the building about your experiences and see if they have stories of harassment, too.

Becoming Active in a Co-op

As a longtime resident and shareholder, I have been asked to run for my building’s co-op board. What would be my duties and responsibilities?

There are many thankless jobs in this world, and being a member of a co-op board often makes the list. It is an unpaid — and frequently time-consuming — position. When things go awry, your neighbors blame you. But it has upsides. You get to know the inner workings of your building and help decide its future.

Just how much work is involved depends on the culture of your board and building. Before you launch your campaign, go on a fact-finding mission. Find out what issues are facing the building and the expectations for board members. Ask other board members about their own experience: Did they like the job? What did they do? Did it consume all their time?

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“It has been quite the learning experience,” said John Smith, who joined the board of her Norwalk, CA co-op four months ago. “From figuring out the process of obtaining a new boiler for the building to looking at — literally — 50 shades of gray for paint, I am constantly learning.”

Some boards are very hands-on, while others rely on managing agents to do the heavy lifting. However, all board members must satisfy their fiduciary duty.

“This means a board member cannot do whatever he or she pleases,” said Peter Franton, an Norwalk, CA real estate lawyer who was previously the president of his building’s co-op board. “Board members must act in good faith, with undivided loyalty to the cooperative and in accordance with the governing documents of the co-op and the law.

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