Bird Streets Blog

Laurel Canyon

Laurel Canyon
Zip Codes: 90046, 90068

Laurel Canyon is an intimate hillside community with soul power. it’s one of my favorite neighborhoods in Los Angeles. A bohemian artist refuge, Laurel canyon is where you run away from home, hideout from the authorities, and write music, books, and plays.

Residents form an almost spiritual bond with nature of the canyon which you are completely submersed in. When you are there, you get the feeling that you are connected. Towering oak trees, dry chaparral bushes, and gold grass inhabit this authentic Southern Californian landscape. Laurel Canyon has a Wildside. Unfamiliar sights and sounds bewilder unaccustomed city dwellers. Songbirds sing, owls hoot, hawks glide on thermal updrafts, deer wander, coyotes, bobcats, and hermits are out there somewhere. Hardly your typical LA experience.

Laurel Canyon has country folk rock roots. The list of famous residents is long and always growing. Some can argue that music in Laurel Canyon reached its Zenith in the summer of love in the late 1960s. The Musicians who made this time: The Mamas and the Papas, The Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, The Doors, CSNY, Frank Zappa, and Joni Mitchell.  Laurel Canyon’s next generation are Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Slash from Guns and Roses who both grew up in Laurel Canyon. New music continues to bubble up from this wellspring. To be young mad and in love. Good Vibes.


Laurel Canyon has a symbiotic relationship with the Sunset Strip and Hollywood/West Hollywood. With their tides, so does Laurel Canyon’s fortunes rise. Many residents work and play in those cities and live in Laurel Canyon. Laurel Canyon’s close proximity to these entertainment districts make it one of the most convenient hillside communities to live in (much livelier than Benedict Canyon). There is no freeway noise in Laurel Canyon like you get in the Cahuenga Pass from the 101.  

Laurel canyon is the best canyon boulevard for traveling between the valley and the westside. So the studios in Burbank, and the lowkey nightlife of Ventura Blvd in Studio City are also within arms reach.


Laurel Canyon Country Store
2108 Laurel Canyon Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90046
(323) 654-8091

Peace sign emblazoned, and hipster central. Located half way up the Canyon, is the Country Store, which is a hitching Post for the town. The Store has basic groceries and wine. There is a deli counter that makes sandwiches. You can buy sage for $2.99 at the register (impulse buy!). 100% wood paneled. There is a great Dry cleaners around the corner too!

Lookout Mountain Inn (Burned down)

The inn burned down in 1918, so you can’t see it today. This inn played an important role in Laurel Canyon’s early history. Opened in 1910, as a 24-room hotel, it attracted visitors to the new Laurel Canyon Developments of Bungalowland and Lookout Mountain Park. Placed on one of the choicest view lots, you could see for miles in all directions. The Lookout Mountain inn had incredible views. Guest paid $15/week for room and board. One of the experiences of staying at the inn was driving the long curving canyon roads to get to it. Automobile clubs would hold meetings their there. Upscale Society held banquets and social events. Unfortunately in 1918 a brush fire, reportedly started by a group of boys cooking sausages, raced up the canyons and reduced the wooden inn into charcoals. 

The Mansion (2451 Laurel Canyon) & Houdini Mansion (2400 Laurel Canyon)

The Mansion: Longtime residence of mega producer Rick Rubin, who used the property as a recording studio and rock and roll dormitory. The main residence was built in 1925, and burned in 1959, but was rebuilt. Errol Flynn use to live at this residence in the 1930s, and it is said that at one time there was a tunnel connecting this property to the Houdini Mansion across the street.

Houdini Estate: Called the Houdini estate, although Houdini never owned it, although he is rumored to have rented the house while he was in Los Angeles. This location is now available to rent for weddings and events. Built by Department Store Magnate Ralf M. Walker- the house also burned down in 1959 fire and was later demolished in 1970. A new house has been built.    


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123 S Clark Dr | South Clark

South Clark
123 S Clark Dr
West Hollywood CA 90048

South Clark is a no frills traditional Mediterranean newer construction 14 condo building in the Beverly Center neighborhood of Los Angeles. The condos are spacious ~1600 sqft 3 Bedrooms and 3 baths, so this building is great for buyers looking for a large condo for a growing or extended family.

123 S Clark Drive Lobby

The developer installed bull-nose Granite Countertops, travertine floors and cherry recessed panel cabinets in kitchens with stainless steal appliances. Appliances include a U-line wine cooler, double oven, and a massive Fridge! Unlike older buildings- Condos have a Viking gas stove and plenty of overhead recessed lighting. The condos have two gas fireplaces, one in the living room and one in the master suit, which comes complete with walk in closet and private master bath. Master bath has double vanity and separate shower and tub.  The bedrooms have Berber carpeting. Living Room has 4 inch maple engineered wood floor. The Penthouses have nice roof decks.

HOA’s are $450/mo. in addition to this there is a $900payment each year for Earthquake insurance. Side by Side Laundry inside in a laundry room in each condo and they have central HVAC. Two parking spaces and some guest parking. The building has an elevator and a receiving area in the lobby. Prices are $950,000 to $1,150,000


Unit BR/BA SQFT Original Sell Out Price
#101 3BR/3BA 1,595 $819,000
#102 3BR/3BA 1,606 $824,000
#103 3BR/3BA 1,666 $820,000
#104 3BR/3BA 1,901 $929,000
#201 3BR/3BA 1,610 $839,000
#202 3BR/3BA 1,606 $839,000
#203 3BR/3BA 1,666  
#301 3BR/3BA 1,610 $859,000
#302 3BR/3BA 1,629  
#303 3BR/3BA 1,666 $840,000
#PH1 3BR/3BA 1,610 $929,000
#PH2 3BR/3BA 1,629 ???
#PH3 3BR/3BA 1,666 $899,000
#PH4 3BR/3BA 1,901 $959,000


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141 S Clark Drive | The Rob Clark

The Rob Clark
141 S Clark Drive
Los Angeles CA 90048

The Rob Clark is a fashionable and trendy 105-unit low rise condo in Beverly Center Neighborhood of Los Angeles (Rob Clark is not in the city of West Hollywood although West Hollywood is very close). Built in 1973, the building was converted to condos in 2007. Rob Clark Buyers love the remodeled kitchens, bathrooms, and real hardwood flooring, and other upgrades that were added during the conversion. Unlike a bunch of older buildings in the area, with condos in original condition, the Rob Clark doesn’t need one lick of work! Condos also have Central HVAC.

For Buyers looking for large condos, the Rob Clark may not be the best option because it’s condos tend to be on the smaller side, with the largest two bedrooms being 950 sqft, and the average condo size coming in at 650 sqft.

A lot of owners in the Rob Clark are energetic professionals who are busy and on the move, so they don’t spend a lot of time at home (in fact they travel a lot as well). These owners don’t want to pay for space they don’t use, and would prefer to trade a larger space for better condition. They have zero interest in taking on a renovation project.

However, designing their condo’s interior is a whole ‘nother story. Buyers tend to have a strong sense of their own personal style and enjoy decorating and redecorating their Rob Clark condo. The building has a very landlord friendly rental policy so many of these condos make great investments as well. It’s like living in a hip boutique hotel.  

In addition to offering very affordable prices for the condition and area, the building has low HOAs and a totally awesome gym!


Finding a walk-able location in LA is hard to find in this city but Rob Clark offers a walker friendly convenient location. Cedar Sinai Hospital, the Beverly Center Shopping Center, the design district of West Hollywood, the high end retail and restaurants of Robertson BLVD, and the restaurants and cafes of 3rd Ave all within walking distance make this a walkers paradise.

5 Minutes to West Hollywood and 5 minutes to Beverly hills. There is a great restaurant Lemonade that hits the spot for lunch, and Beverly Hills Bristol farms, although the Whole Foods and Pavilions of West Hollywood although slightly further away will probably have a stronger draw.

I really like Joan’s on Third for brunch, and there is both a Starbucks and coffee bean at Robertson and Beverly so you can pick you favorite spot to get a latte.  Toca Madera is a popular local watering spot that is great for some nightlife. 

In the Beverly Center is the Pacific Theater, which is great for watching an academy award contender, summer blockbuster, or whatever kind of cinema you are into.

Real Estate

Condos in the Rob Clark are single story floor-plans. A big selling point for the building is CENTRAL HVAC. Not every property in this price range and area have it. The Galley Style Modern Kitchens of the condos feature an open concept with a seating area on the other side of a massive quartz counter top with room for stools. The condo’s Kitchens came equipped with new Stainless Steel Frigidaire Appliances.  In the kitchen, there is a European style all-in-one washer/dryer unit laundry solution. For those that prefer traditional laundry- there is a community laundry room off the lobby.

I love the very rich looking dark engineered Hickory Floors. They run throughout the living room AND bedrooms. In the living room is a floor to ceiling gas chiseled white Quarts fireplace, that adds a bit of pizzazz. Bathrooms have combo tub showers with glass sliders and aquamarine glass tile. Bedrooms have an excellent walk in closet.


(22) 2BR
850 sqft  to 950 sqft
$650,000 to $700,00

(68) 1 BR
650 sqft to 800 sqft

(15) Studio
420 sqft to 500 sqft
$400,000 to $450,000

Record Sale $750,000 2/9/2017

Turnover 7% (about 6 a year or one every two months)

Appreciation 3% (very hard to tell long term trend since only 10 years of sales history)


Heated Pool and Outdoor BBQ



Parking & Laundry

Each condo has a European style all-in-one laundry unit in the kitchen. In addition to this, there is Community laundry room.

Every condo has at least one parking space in gated garage. The two bedroom condos have two parking spaces. Sorry, there are no Guest Parking spaces. 

Home Owners Association

HOA dues Monthly Cost? $350/mo to $420/mo.

HOA dues cover? Water & Trash, Building Insurance, Common Area Maintenance, and Reserves.

HOA exclude? Electricity, Gas, Internet, Cable, H-06 insurance

Any special assessments? No

Pet Policy? 2 Pets per residence.

Rental Policy? No AirBnB. Otherwise no restrictions. 

EQ Insurance? No

Building Reserves?

Special move in instructions?

Can you have BBQ on balcony?

Management company?

4730 Woodman Ave #200
Sherman Oaks CA 91423

Alma Karic (Association Manager)
818-981-1802 EXT 251


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960 Larrabee St | Larrabee Manor

Larrabee Manor
960 Larrabee St #303
West Hollywood CA 90069

Larrabee Manor is an 86 unit, courtyard style, midrise condo located in the Norma Triangle Neighborhood of West Hollywood. The Building was built in 1963 as apartments and converted to condos in 1987. The unit mix in this condo complex is 90% 1 bedrooms and Studios, so this is a great building for buyers looking for well located/affordable West Hollywood 1 bedroom condo or for condo investors, since this building’s CCRs and  HOA have a very investor friendly leasing policy. HOA’s are only $350/mo. which is the lowest you will find in the area (HOAs include basic Direct TV and internet too!).


Conveniently located between Santa Monica BLVD and Sunset, you can walk to either location. West Hollywood’s Santa Monica BLVD is just steps from this condo for lots of nightlife, restaurants, and Trader Joes. The Newly Opened Shake Shack has become an instant neighborhood hit! For the past decade the Abbey has been the #1 nightlight life destination in the area, and it was recently expended with the “Chapel”.

Real Estate

Larrabee Manor is about Economy. Economy of size, economy of expense, economy of home owner’s dues.  This building offers one of the best locations at the most affordable price. 

 Record Sale Price: $550,000 9/25/2013

Turnover Ratio: 5%

Appreciation: 4% – 5% (if updated)

All of the floorplans are single story. There is no central HVAC, so Air is a Wall Unit (sorry Central HVAC may not be installed). Some owners have upgraded to split systems. Kitchens have electric stoves. Dining Rooms are a bit small at about 8′ x 8′, they seat 4. The 1 Bedrooms have a wall and full baths, where as the studios have open floorplan. Kitchens are galley style with Dishwasher, Stove, Microwave. Some owners have added a washer and dryer in the kitchens, otherwise there is a community laundry room. There are two elevators in the building, and numerous stairs. The hallways are open air in some areas and enclosed in others. Units facing Larrabee (West) have huge balconies. Units that face the courtyard have normal balconies. The units that face out from the courtyard have no balconies. One thing I really like about these condos is that they have a lot of windows- the dining room, living room, and bedroom all have a window. 


(40) Studios
450 sqft to 700 sqft

(40) 1 Br
700 sqft to 800 sqft
$400,000 – $450,000

(6) 2BR
900 sqft to 1,100 sqft


Heated Pool (year round)

Roofdeck (Great Views!)

Dog Run

Storage in Garage (some condos have an overhead locker + ground storage bin, others just ground bin, and a few have no garage storage)

Parking & Laundry

1 Parking Space per condo regardless of size in gated parking garage. There is guest parking??

Laundry is in a laundry room with coin operated machines. Some owners have installed laundry inside their condos.

Home Owners Association

Board Member’s Website:

HOA dues Monthly Cost? $350/mo.

HOA dues cover? Water & Trash, Building Insurance, Basic Direct TV package and Internet, Reserves, 

HOA does exclude?

Special Assessments? Yes, currently a $1,500 per unit special assessment to redo the hallways. The board is considering two other assessments: Elevator Modernization (2K per unit) and Earthquake insurance ($40/mo.) 

Pet Policy? 2 Pet limit. Dogs may not be over 20 inches high full grown and be of a “gentle disposition”.

Rental Policy? No restrictions

EQ Insurance? No

Building Reserves?

Can you have BBQ on balcony?

Property Management company?

First Service Residential

6080 Center Drive, Suite 210
Los Angeles, CA 90045

Phone: 310-574-7426 or 310-981-9909

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321 S San Vicente Blvd | Westbury Towers

Westbury Towers
321 S San Vicente Blvd
Los Angeles CA 90048

Westbury Towers is an 82-unit 11 story high-rise in Beverly Center. The building was built in 1976 as condos and is solid construction with concrete and steel. The HOA has not made any updates to the exterior, lobby, hallways, or laundry rooms since it was built so the building is dated now. That said, Westbury Towers has an incredible location, and the condos are very generous in size. This is one of the most affordable buildings in the area. The HOA, levying a modest assessment, could make this building really shine.


Westbury towers is walking distance to both Cedar Sinai hospital and the Beverly Center Shopping center (which is directly across the street).  The Restaurants and shops on 3rd St/Robertson are also nearby. This location provides easy access to both West Hollywood and Beverly Hills.

There is a Trader Joe’s market in the new 8500 Burton building. I personally love the Larder in the same building- they have great food! You also have to check out Andre’s Bazaar at SLS hotel- really cool place to get a cocktail!

For your coffee fix, check out the Coffee bean and tea leaf at La Cienega and 3rd.

Real Estate

Record Sale: $775,000 6/17/2016

Appreciation? 4%

Turnover Ratio? 4% (about 3 condos a year)

The Condos are a mix of 1 Bedrooms (22) and 2 bedrooms (60) ranging in size from 950 sqft to 1,300 sqft. All the floorplans are single level. One Bedrooms are selling for $400,000 to $500,000 and 2 bedrooms are selling for $600,000 to $700,000.  The bedrooms and living rooms are really large. Bedrooms can fit a king and most floorplans have a walk in master closet. The kitchen have electric appliances and are square. The Kitchen has a bar area to looks into the living room. Every condo has one or two balconies. Condos on the higher floors have great views. 


Pool and Spa

Lobby with on site manager, and nightly security patrol

Paddle Court


Storage Locker

Parking and Laundry

Parking is in two underground garages- 1 bedrooms ahve 1 parking space and 2 bedrooms have 2 parking spaces. For two parking spaces it is a mix between tandem and side by side. Guest Parking?

Laundry is community, with a washer and dryer on each floor. 

Home Owners Association

HOA dues Monthly Cost?  $498/condo

HOA dues cover? Water and Trash, Building insurance, Common area maintenance, Reserves

HOA does exclude? Electricity, Internet, Cable, Condo Insurance

any special assessments? No

Pet Policy?

Rental Policy?

EQ Insurance? No

Building Reserves?

Special move in instructions?

Can you have BBQ on balcony?

Management company?


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6728 Hillpark Dr | The Highlands

The Highlands
6700-6760 Hillpark Dr
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Highlands is a hidden gem! Located in a picturesque setting of natural canyons just off the 101 freeway in the Cahuenga Pass, the community has a resort like feel and is the most affordable way to ‘get in’ to the Hollywood Hills.

The Highlands has 192-condos that are grouped into 16 different buildings. Built in 1966 by developer Theodore Bentley, a third generation builder. Bentley’s grandfather was the founder of Pomona, and his father worked on highway projects and the aqueduct. The Highlands opened at an inopportune moment,  the US economy was in recession and sales were slow. Instead of selling, the condos were leased as apartments until 1973- when Lindley Enterprises purchased the property and infused another $1.2M into improvements and sold them as condos.  

The property has 14 acres of grounds, with many different species of trees and other greenery that was planted on site when it was built. This landscaping is now mature and very pleasing. The most noticeable trees are the towering pines, but there are wide assortment of varieties. In addition to the expansive grounds, the land to the south of the site (about 20 Acres) is reserved as open space.


Being located in the Cahuenga pass, the Highlands is very convenient for commuters to either the valley or the westside. Some employees who work in the studios at Burbank also choose to call the highlands home. Being so close to the 101 you can pick up the 134 to go east to Pasadena, or head west on 101 towards 405, as well as take 101 South straight downtown.

Since the community is a little bit off the beaten path, it is quiet and safe. Hillpark Drive is a cul-de-sac. The property is hillside with a slight rising grade.

Unfortunately, the Highlands, much like it’s neighbor across the 101, Cahuenga Tennis Club, is not very walkable. However there are so many amenities on site, the reduces the amount of trips. Cahuenga Blvd has a ton of restaurants which provide a lot of dining options. A few of my favorites are: Mercado, the Baked Potato (great jazz!), Miceli (don’t love the food, but love the live singing waiters!), In’n’Out, Joes Falafal, GC Marketplace.

Universal Studios is right around the corner! Check out Universal Studios City walk for a fun night out.

I would be remiss if I did not mention the Highlands next store neighbor, the Hollywood Bowl

As far as groceries are concerned, you can go north to Ralph’s Studio City at 10901 Ventura Blvd, or drive to Beachwood’s Bristol farms. There are a few smaller markets around the neighborhood for a quick run if you run out or forget something.

Real Estate

Turnover Ratio? 4%

Appreciation? 4%

Record Sale: $739,000 5/8/2015

There are 16 buildings and each building has 12 condos. Condos on the second and third floors are four corner units with no common walls and have balconies. There are two condos on the 5th floor of each building with sun decks, and two condos on the first floor. Each building has its own private elevator.

Square footage on units ranges  from 900 sqft to 1,400 sqft. Floorplans are 2 Bedrooms, 1 Bedroom + Den, and 1 bedrooms. All the floorplans are single story.


1BR (50)
900 sqft-1000 sqft

1BR+ Den
1,100 sqft – 1,200 sqft

1,200 sqft-1,400 sqft

The original finishes from the 70’s were well you know… umm. Except for the front doors which are very vintage. Many owners have updated their condos. The original condos had popcorn ceilings. Many owners have smoothed their ceilings and added recessed lights. The kitchens had country style raised panel wood cabinets and ceramic tile counter-tops. Just a simple coat of paint can really change the look of the cabinets if you don’t want to replace them. Condos have a huge combined dining room and living room (500sqft – 700sqft) with floor to ceiling sliding glass doors that lead out to balcony. Kitchens have a bar area that can seat 2 or 3 stools. Central HVAC. 


2 Heated Pools (Upper and Lower) + Spa

Lower Pool


Upper Pool


2 tennis courts and a Paddle court

Club House

Dog Area

Storage lockers

 Parking & Laundry

Parking is in a gated underground parking garage. Condos have 1 or 2 parking spaces. The 1 bedrooms have 1 parking space and the 1 bedroom + den and 2bedrooms have 2 parking spaces. In addition, there is plenty of street parking on Hillpark. Guest Parking?

For Laundry, the complex was original built with Community laundry. Laundry rooms are where?

The HOA allow owners to install laundry in their condo as long as it is a special compact/ventless washer dryer approved by HOA. Installing a Washer/Dryer is owner’s expense. The HOA can provide a list of approved models that owners are allowed to install.

Home Owners Association


(323) 851-4883


HOA dues Monthly Cost? $494/mo. per condo

HOA dues cover? Water + Trash, Building Insurance, Common Area Maintenance, Reserve, EQ Insurance

HOA does exclude? Internet, Cable, Gas, Electric

Any special assessments? No

Pet Policy? 2 pets max. No pitbulls, Dobermans or rottweilers.

Rental Policy? Must own the condo 1 year before leasing. Leases minimum 1 year term.

EQ Insurance? YES

Building Reserves?

Can you have BBQ on balcony? Yes

Management Company?

FHA Approved? YES



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Security Deposit

When you lease or rent property in Los Angeles, landlords collect a security deposit along with the first month of rent. The security deposit is like an insurance policy for landlords. If the tenant damages the property or breaks the lease- the landlord can retain some, or all, of the security deposit to cover their loses.

For tenants, you may not like having the additional upfront expense, especially when you are already paying for a move, and you may need to buy furniture for the new place, but you are just going to have to get use to it, because landlords need some of your hard-earned cash to hold onto to feel safe.

Everything in real estate is negotiable, and so is the security deposit. California State Law addresses the handling of Security Deposits in CA Civil Code 1950.5.

The Legal Maximum Security Deposit in California for an Unfurnished Lease is (2) Month’s Rent. For Furnished leases, the legal maximum is (3) Month’s Rent. However, there is no legal maximum on prepaid rent. Commercial Properties have no limit on security deposits.  

For example, let’s suppose that you rent an unfurnished apartment for $2,000/mo. The legal maximum a landlord can collect as a security deposit is $4,000. The landlord will also want first month’s rent, so the total move-in cost would be $6,000. 

There is no such thing as Non-Refundable Security Deposit in California. Some Landlords will try to charge a “reservation fee” or “holding fee” on a unit or say that a portion of the security deposit is non refundable, while they wait for the new tenant to move in. This is illegal. Unlike rent, which belongs to the landlord, security deposits belong to the tenants. Landlords “hold” the security deposit for the tenant and may only deduct from it for specific reasons, and non-refundable holding fee is not one of them. 


It is incredibly easy nowadays to take pictures because everyone carries a cell phone, and all the new smart phones have cameras. I recommend that BOTH landlord and tenant take pictures of the condition of the property during move in. Keep the pictures somewhere you can find them later. You may need to refer to them when moving out. The condition of the property when you received it sets the precedent for how the property should be returned. In the event of a disagreement, pictures are worth 1,000 words.

Usually during move in, the tenant requests fixes or ask for permission to make changes. In my experience, I find that New tenants expect everything in their new place to be working and are pickier than long term tenants, especially if they are paying higher rents.

For Move in fixes, try to set a realistic time line for repairs with the tenant, and prioritize the most important things first. The little stuff sometimes just goes away. As a landlord, once a tenant has moved in and is settled, I do not replace consumables like light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, garage remote batteries, or HVAC vent screens but I will make sure the tenant has a fresh set when they move in.

Tenants will often ask for permission to paint the rental the color of their choosing. If you give the tenant permission to paint the unit a new color that is not a neutral such as off white- it may make the unit more difficult to re-rent when the tenant moves out.  Be sure to clarify with the tenant, if you give them permission to paint the unit, who is responsible for painting the unit back to a neutral color at move out.

Another point with move in is changing the locks. Most landlords I know don’t change the locks between tenants. It is not required. I personally have no problem if the tenants want to change the locks- all that I ask is that they notify me and provide me with a copy of the new key. 


The move out process begins with the appropriate notice. Some properties in Los Angeles have rent control. Rent control properties have their own move out rules. Evictions too.

*Helpful Post from DCA on Moving out

For regular situations of serving notice to end a month to month tenancy, or moving out at the end of the lease- the landlord must give the tenant a 30 day notice if the tenant has lived in the property less than 1 year, or a 60 day notice if the tenant has been living in the property more than a year. Tenants on the other hand, are only required to give landlords a 30 day notice. Ca Civil Code 1946.1

I recommend for both Landlords and tenants to do a move out inspection 3-14 days prior to the move out date. The Landlord will be able to assess the condition of the unit, and if there are anything they plan to deduct- it gives the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation themselves first.  Once again, take pictures to document the condition of the way the property was left. If you leave the property in the same condition as you got it, you should expect your entire security deposit back. Lock the property up and return the keys and provide the landlord with your new mailing address, so they can mail you your security deposit check. 

*Helpful Post from DCA on Security Deposit Refunds

Tenant’s have been waiting a long time and been looking forward to get their security deposit back- in my experience they expect the entire security deposit returned, so if you know you will be deducting something be very clear. By law, landlords have 21 days to return the security deposit after move out. There is nothing that says the landlord can’t return it sooner.  If the landlord deducts any expenses from the security deposit they must give an accounting of those expenses. A landlord may only deduct from a security deposit for the following reasons:

Legal Reasons For Security Deposit Deduction:

  1. Unpaid Rent
  2. Repairs beyond normal wear and tear
  3. Cleaning (includes disposal of trash) 

What is Normal Wear and Tear?

There is no set definition for normal wear and tear since it can be interpreted so broadly. This can be frustrating. The main idea, is that- as things age and are used, they wear out. Even with the most careful use, wear is inevitable. Therefore, normal wear and tear is the reasonable amount of wear to be expected for the time of use. Keep in mind, that if something was already quite old before you moved in, that should be factored in. For understanding wear and tear- I like to think about tires on a car. If you obey all the rules of the road, new tires should last 50,000 miles or 3-4 years. However, if you are racing and squealing out your tires all the time, those tires may only last one year. 

Let consider some real estate examples. First Paint: Let’s suppose you lived in an apartment for two years and at the end of the lease when you moved out, there were some scuffs and scratches on the walls from foot traffic and bumping furniture. If all that is required is a little touch up painting, this would be ordinary wear and tear. Let’s suppose instead, that this apartment was a no smoking rental, and you smoked inside your apartment anyways for two years straight. When you move out, that apartment has a strong cigarette odor, and the walls have yellowish smoke stains. This is beyond normal wear and tear. Or, lets suppose that you have kids, and the kids were allowed to draw all over the walls. Painting is going to be deducted from your security deposit. 

Lets consider a different example: Carpet. Let’s suppose you moved into your apartment and the carpets were already five years old. They had a few discolored areas and had some excess wear in high traffic areas around the hallways and doors. Three years later you move out, but before you move you have the carpets professionally cleaned. The landlord may not charge you for brand new carpets. It may be true that the carpets do need to be replaced (carpet lasts 8-10 years on average) but that is because of their age, and not because of misuse. No matter how many times a carpet cleaner goes over a patch of old carpet, it is still going to be old carpet. Carpet cleaning isn’t magical and make carpet new again. When it is time to replace the carpet, it is time. 

Let’s suppose instead that the carpet was 3 years old, and you stayed there for 2 years. When you moved in the carpet was in pretty good condition. While you were living in the apartment your children decided to rollerblade inside the house on the carpets when you were not home, and they torn and ripped the carpet in a several different areas. Then you spilled some wine on the carpet and never cleaned it up. Then you carelessly dropped a hot iron from the ironing board and it melted a portion of the carpet. Then a pet urinated on the carpet. That poor carpet. This has gone way beyond normal wear and tear. When you move out expect money from the security deposit to be deducted for replacing the carpet. However, you should not be responsible for replacing the entire carpet with new carpet, as it is 5 years old now. Let’s say that replacing the carpets costs $3,000 – well since it was 5 years old that should be prorated to half, and you should expect about $1,500 to be deducted from your security deposit. 

 You are going to have to use some common sense and judgement to figure out what is normal wear versus something extraordinary. 


There are two disputes than can arise with security deposits: the landlord has suffered damage in excess of the security deposit from the tenant and seeks the difference (much more common with commercial leases), or the tenant feels that the landlord has made unlawful deductions to their security deposit and wants money returned (much more common with residential leases).

In most cases, for residential leases, the security deposit is less than $10,000. For civil disputes of $10,000 or less for an individual or $5,000 or less for an LLC, those cases go to small claims court. You may want to go to small claims court anyway even if the security deposit is larger than $10,000, because there are no lawyers in small claims court, which greatly reduces legal fees, and it’s a lot faster to get a trail date and the process is simpler. 


Q: What happens to my security deposit once I give it to my landlord?

A: The answer is- you don’t want to know. Most mom and pop landlords spend it, lose track of it, and forget about it, until they get a 30-day notice from the tenant, and then they have to scramble to come up with it before the tenant moves out. If you have had a bad experience with a landlord unfairly withholding your security deposit in the past, I recommend asking the landlord before you rent, how often they keep security deposits from their tenants. Most professionally managed apartments handle security deposits very fairly. 

Q: What happens if the property is sold?

A: What usually happens is the current owner transfers the security deposits to the new owner at time of sale. The new owner would then be responsible for returning the security deposit to the tenants when they move out. Sometimes when a new owner takes over, they ask for increased security deposits (and increased rents too!). 

Q: I don’t know the new mailing address of my tenant who moved out- where do I send the security deposit accounting?

A: All you are required to do as a landlord is mail the accounting to the tenant’s last known address. If the tenant left and did not inform you of their new mailing address then you should mail the accounting to the leased property’s address. Most tenants have the post office forward mail to their new mailing address by filling out a change of address form after they move. If the accounting letter comes back to you marked “undeliverable”, keep it in your records as proof that you attempted to send an accounting. I would try contacting the tenant first by calling or emailing them (if you are on friendly terms) to find out their new mailing address before sending it to their old one.

Q: I have never done an accounting of the tenants security deposit before is there a special form or way to do it?

The burden of proof is on the landlord if there is ever a dispute. So you need to prove if you do deduct something from the security deposit that it was warranted. There are no special forms, I have seen landlords just type something up on a word document on their computer or write a letter by hand. There are some important information that should be on the accounting- 1) Date 2) Property Address 3) Tenant Name 4) the amount of the security deposit 5) any deductions. Deductions should have the amount and a description. 6) Balance of Security Deposit. If you have estimates or bids, for work done or to be done for the deductions those are good to include also. 

Q: I just bought a building and the rental units have low/no security deposits- how do I collect more security deposits?

A: While tenants are on a lease you cannot collect an additional security deposit, however, after the lease term is over, or if the leases are month to month, then you can request an increased security deposit by having the tenant sign a new 1 year lease. 

Q: I have two tenants who are roommates, and one of the tenants is moving out. Do I as landlord need to return half of the security deposit to tenant moving out?

A: No, in a roommate situation, both tenants are responsible jointly and severally- which basically means even though they are each 1/2 of the lease, they are both responsible for all of it. So when one roommate moves out, you should tell that roommate to settle any security deposit issues with their other roommate, because the lease is still continuing if either one of them stays. 

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Los Angeles has great weather, so having a garage here is not as important as other parts of the country. I grew up in Minnesota. Having a garage there was essential. I remember waking up on cold winter mornings, and freezing my A$%$ off scrapping the snow from my car windows. You really appreciate having a garage then!

Los Angeles culture is car obsessed- so even though we don’t need garages, many people want them. Fun Fact: There are more cars in Los Angeles then people! Over 6M cars where registered with the DMV in 2016 and the populations for greater Los Angeles area is 4M people. For my motor-head clients, the garage is always the first thing they look at. 

The primary function of a garage is to store cars. By parking you car in a garage, it protects it from scratches, dents, and dings and paint fading. A garage provides security from theft. And certainly, getting your car off the street will save you money on parking tickets!

Since real estate has become so valuable in Los Angeles, many people are converting their garages to living spaces and parking their cars on the driveway. For $10,000 or less you can convert a garage into a 300 sqft to 400 sqft living space. I call these “stu-ages” because they are studios turned out of garages. Converting your garage is one of the most inexpensive way to add sqft to your house. If you convert your garage without permits, one piece of advice- leave the garage door intact, especially if it faces an alley or is visible from the street. That way it won’t arose undue suspicion. 

Assuming you are still using your garage as a garage, it does other things too, like provide storage for tools and equipment, lawn care items, sporting goods, and bicycles. One way to free up space in your main house is to relocate the laundry into the garage.

Steve Jobs in front of his parents garage where he started Apple

Garages can wear many hats- they can be an incubator space for a startup company, or a rehearsal space for a band, a wood-shop, storage unit, or just about anything else you can think of.

From a construction standpoint, building a garage is pretty much the same as building the exterior shell of a house, except there are no finishes inside. Like with any new construction project, make sure you permit it with the building department.

After the kitchen, the garage is the second room in the house with the highest fire risk. Building codes have specific provisions for fire prevention in garage construction. Most garage fires can be avoided by using some common sense, like safety storing flammable liquids like gasoline away from flames, upgrading dangerous electric panels, and not overloading power outlets.

Garage Types:

One Story/Two Story

One Story garages are the most common because they are significantly cheaper to build than two story garages. A standard one Story garage costs about $25,000 to build, whereas a two Story garage would cost more than double that, at about $75,000. The reason for the large jump up in cost is because the 2-story garage needs to have a stronger foundation. Many people would love to have a two story garage, but don’t have the budget for it. 

If you have a single story house, that pretty much mandates a single story garage. Having a two story garage with a single story house looks strange. The mass of the larger garage would overwhelm the house and look bulky. Two Story garages blend better with two story houses. If the garage happens to be located in the rear yard of the property, instead of the front yard, the garage is not visible from the street, and has much less visual impact, so building a two story garage with a single story house in the backyard is not as jarring. The big advantage of a two story garage is you get double the space, and the extra space you get on the second story can be finished- for a rec room or guest house. 

One Car/Two Car

As the city has grown more crowded, and public transportation worse, Los Angeles’ building code has become stricter with parking requirements for new construction. I see a lot of old properties around town that would never be allowed to be built by today’s code because they do not have enough parking. The most poignant example are Bungalow Court Apartments. There are anywhere from 6-10 on a lot with ZERO parking. By today’s code that property would at least need 9 spaces. Owners of properties with no off street parking just park on the street. 

I joke around that LA had better public transportation in 1950 than it does today. It’s partially true, because the Pacific Electric railway system was quite amazing. The Metro Subway has been expanding in recent years but it will never offer as many routes as the old electric rails. The bus system in the city is great but underutilized. 

Anyway, the year built of a property has a big influence on the garage. If the property was built between 1910 to 1930, it will have a tiny 1 car garage that I like to call a “Model T” garage. During this era, having a car was for the well-to-do, and having two cars was almost unimaginable. 

Cars also have gotten larger over time. These small garages won’t fit a full size car. They can fit a medium size sedan tightly or a compact car comfortably. Most people with these garages use them for storage.

In the 1950’s car’s really took off. The ranch style homes built in suburban tract developments proudly featured two car attached garages. From this time on, the garage has become an essential part of the house. 

One interesting thing to note, is that building a 1 car garage versus a 2 car garage is not a very large change in cost.  A one car garage may cost $18,000 or $20,000 while a two car garage costs $25,000 to $30,000. Many people will just build two car garages. The only thing that limits them is having enough space, not the cost. Architects always start with parking- since of all the zoning provisions, it is the most prohibiting. 


Houses built before 1930 almost never have attached garages. At some point, builder’s realized you don’t have to have the garage in a separate building away from the house and they started Attaching them. Attached garages became really popular in the 1950s onwards. On hillside lots, where there is very little room, attached garages are a necessity.  Attached Garages are more convenient for bringing in groceries, but come at the cost of natural light in the house since the wall adjoining the house and garage cannot have any windows because of firecode. 


Carports are basically garages with a few less walls. According to the IRC building code, to be a carport- they may only have two walls or less and no garage door. One advantage you have with carports over garages is the floor surface may be asphalt instead of concrete. 

IRC R309.2

Carports are low cost – they are about $6,000 to $7,000 to build new. Carports are a very common design feature in mid-century houses. One disadvantage of carports is they offer no security. You wouldn’t want to use them to store expensive equipment and your car may not be as protected from break in- so don’t leave anything expensive in your car. 

Garage Sizes

Note: the Building Code is the legal minimum requirement- sometimes it is a good idea not just to meet but exceed the code if it is appropriate for your specific circumstances. 

I have seen small lot development buildings that their parking garages meets code, but it is just too small to fit a normal size car. I’d start by considering your car size and the clearances you need around the car and comparing them with the standard garage sizes to see if they meet your needs.

SIDES: On the sides you need more space for opening and closing car doors. 3 feet is plenty of space for the sides, in no circumstance would I go smaller than 2.5 ft. In a two car garage the space for opening car doors can overlap, because you don’t have to open both doors at the same time, so 3 feet is enough between each car. In a two car garage, if you are parking a larger car next to a smaller car, the larger car will have a larger door that requires more space, so keep that in mind.

FRONT: Unless you drive a sports car or an old VW Beattle with the trunk in the front, you don’t need much room in front of the car – I have seen as little as 1 ft clearance in front- with such a small space, you won’t be able to walk in front of the vehicle while it is parked. 2.5ft should be plenty of clearance for the front.

REAR: Since you use the trunk and most people park by pulling front in and backing out, the rear of the car will need extra space to clear the garage door and provide access to the trunk. 2.5ft is fine. I would never go smaller than 2 feet. 

If you want garage storage cabinets on a wall, standard cabinet depth is 1.5ft to 2ft. Clearance should be 2.5ft-3ft, 2ft is going to be very tight when a cabinet door is open which means you probably can’t use them while a car is parked.  



Dont count for building sqft…

garages most commonly in front yard where they are most commonly located,

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Los Angeles Height Districts

Building Height is one of the main variables zoning codes control. Building Height is a key factor in the planning for any building design.  

§ Section 12.21.1 of Los Angeles Municipal code deals with Building Heights. 

Here is a table of Max Heights for Residential Zones:

If only it were this easy! Unfortunately the Los Angeles Zoning code is messy. There are a number of zoning provisions that can change the Maximum Building Height for a property, which makes things more complicated.


What is the heck is Zimas? Zimas is an acronym for “Zone Information and Map Access System”. Pretty boring full name if you ask me, but I like Zimas (reminds me of the clear vodka like drink from the nineties). You will hear a lot of planners at the zoning counter talking about Zimas- they spend most of the day on the website.

Zimas is the first place you want to check to determine the property’s Height Limits:

Type in your address and open up the “Planning and Zoning Tab” 

The Zoning Tab contains all the properties zoning information. Don’t be intimidated by the huge drop down menu, most of the fields are blank for most parcels.

One feature I love about Zimas is that the Zoning Information is linked to the related zoning documents. Any field that is a “No” or “None” you don’t care about.

In the example above the Property :1720 Winmar- is an “RS” Zone, and it has modifications “ZI-2462”, and it is in an Enterprise zone ZI-2129. Since this is a residential property and enterprise zones deal with commercial properties this doesn’t have any affect. You can also see there is a General Plan Footnote, good to check that also. The big one here, is that it is in a hillside zone, which means it falls under the baseline hillside zoning ordnance. That is going to change the rules for max height dramatically.


Height Modifiers:

-Special Height Districts (L, VL, XL, SS)

-Overlay Zones: HPOZ, Baseline Hillside Ordinance, Coastal Zone

-Community Specific Plans

-General Plan footnotes



If you see a dash and L, VL, XL, or SS after the zone this indicates a special height district. For R1, if you see R1-L, or R1-VL, or R1-XL this means that even though R1 Zone is 


Lets take an example so you can see how this can change things.

Let’s suppose you have a R1-1XL Zone Lot. For the R1 Zone the Max Height is 33 feet. However for R1-1XL the max height is now reduced to 30 Feet. 


Baseline Hillside Ordinance

§ LAMC Section 12.21C.10-4



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128 N Swall Dr | Le Chambord

Le Chambord
128 N Swall Dr
Los Angeles CA 90048

128 N Swall is a newer construction 30 unit low rise condo development in Beverly Center. Built in 1991 by developers Goldrich & Kest, the complex has an Old World European styling with symmetrical columns, balustrade balconies, French doors, and hard-stone Marble & Granite. 

 Cedar Sinai Hospital is right around the corner. Many doctors and nurses from the hospital live in 128 N Swall, because they can walk to work. Beverly Hills condo buyers take an interest as well, since there are not many condos in Beverly Hills, and this nearby location, is a great alternative.


128 N Swall is located in prime Beverly Center, within a short walk to Cedars-Sinai Hospital, the mega shopping mall the Beverly Center, and the nearby cities of West Hollywood and Beverly Hills. There are so many dining options! Celebrity Hotspot the Ivy is a block away. Trendy Lemonade is on Beverly. Bristol Farms grocery is on the corner of Doheny and Beverly. Both 3rd St and Melrose have a number restaurants as well as the Beverly Center.

If you need to shop for furniture to decorate your condo the best of the best furniture retailers in Los Angeles are located in the area. The Pacific Design Center with the great blue whale is up Robertson. Restoration Hardware’s new “RH Modern” store is across the street from the Ivy. Italian Furniture maker Minotti has a store on Beverly. Basically every company you see in Architectural Digest has a show room in the area.

Robertson offers high end retail clothing stores such as Chanel, Michael Kors, The Kooples, Jovani’s, All Saints, and Greg Chapman’s

Are you a Starbucks person or a Coffee Bean Person? Both coffee shops are across from each other at Beverly and Robertson. 

Real Estate

Turnover Ratio? 3.5% or about 1 condo a year.

 Record sale: $1,050,000 8/25/2016

 Appreciation: 4%

128 N Swall is 4 stories, with the Condos on the 4th Floor being the Penthouses. There are 8 condos on each floor, except for the first floor which only has 6 condos to make room for the entry (‘02) and the gym and conference room (‘04).

All of the floor plans are single level and have 2 bedrooms + den and two and a half bathrooms.

Square footage ranges from 1,350 sqft to 1,762 sqft. Bedrooms are split layout. Condos have grand formal entries flanked by four vertical columns, marble floors and raised ceilings. This is a great opportunity to decorate with an intricate stone inlay. A circular patter would align with the cove ceiling above. If a new marble flow is out of the budget, a circular rug also does the trick, if you want to add some Oomph to the Entry. 

Off the Entry is a Powder Room and Laundry Room. The Laundry room has space for side by side washer and dryer with some cabinets above. 

The Main Room has three spaces the work with each other- the Living Room, Dining Room and Den. Den’s can work for a bedroom but they won’t be very private. The dens work great for libraries, offices, play areas, and hobby rooms. The formal dining Room comfortably seats 6. Living Rooms are about 250 sqft to 300 sqft and have a huge stone mantel fireplace as a focal point. The fireplace can be set up to burn wood or use gas.

Connected to the living room are french doors that lead out to a private Balcony. Condos in the ‘01, ‘02, and ‘03 stacks have street facing views of Swall. Stacks ’04 and ’05 face the interior courtyard with the pool and spa, and ’06, ’07 and ’08 are street facing to Clark.

Kitchens are galley style, and have granite countertops. There is a nice breakfast area room for a round table and two chairs that is a nice place to sit and have your morning coffee while reading the paper. The Stove is gas. 

Bedrooms have a split layout. Each bedroom has a full en suite bathroom. The Master bedroom is larger in size then the other bedroom suite and has a walk-in closet and large master bathroom. The master bathroom has a separate tub shower and double vanity. 

Penthouses have a large round skylight in their foyers. 

For the time being the HOA does not allow wood flooring on the 2nd, 3rd and fourth floors, but they have been talking about revising the CCRs. 



-Rec Room (has a kitchen)

-Gym (new equipment in last 5 years)


Storage Unit

(2) Elevators

Parking and Laundry

Each condo has two deeded parking spaces in a subterranean garage that you enter from Swall. Parking spaces are mixed between side by side and tandem, but mostly side by side. There is plenty of guest parking. The building has 15 guest parking spaces. 

Laundry is inside each condo in a Laundry Room located off the main entrance. Side by side washer and dryer with gas hook up and some cabinet space for linens and detergent and a door that closes to block sound when machines are running. 

Home Owners Association

The homeowners association is very active- they meet once a month. 

HOA dues Monthly Cost? $685/mo. per condo

HOA dues cover? Water & Trash, Common Area Maintenance, Building Insurance, EQ Insurance, Reserves

Owner Pays? Electric, Gas, Internet, Cable, Condo Insurance

Any special assessments? None

Pet Policy?

Rental Policy? Lease must be at least 1 year or longer.

EQ Insurance? Yes (15% deductible)

Building Reserves? $250,000

Special move in instructions? $250 Move in Fee

Can you have BBQ on balcony? NO

Management Company:

Manhattan Mgmt Inc
16350 Ventura Blvd # 309
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 907-6047

Manager: Cookie Valente


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