News: Compliance

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Question: Do we have to take pictures of the apartment before a resident moves in? Answer: Although there is no legal requirement that you take pictures before a tenant moves in, it is a very smart thing to do, especially when you compare your pictures of what the premises looked like to when the tenant moved out.  It makes it easy for a judge to see the damage.  Just make sure your pictures are dated, including time of day, and are of good quality. Question: I rent a house to a married couple. I have found that they now have… Read More

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Question: Our new residents, who are college kids, are driving the neighbors crazy with their partying, and they are only one month into their one-year lease.  What kind of notice do I need to serve? Answer: If the disturbances are major and continuous, or if the police have to be called, you may be able to serve a three-day notice based upon nuisance and commence the unlawful detainer action if they fail to vacate pursuant to the notice.

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Question: How long does an unlawful detainer judgment stay on the tenant’s record? Answer: As with all judgments, it is valid for 10 years as far as collection goes, but the credit-reporting agencies keep this information for seven years.  The judgment also accrues interest at 10 percent per annum, and can be renewed for an additional 10 years.

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In light of recent litigation, the California Apartment Association is urging members to read the association’s compliance paper on late fees.

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Question: I have recently purchased a 20-unit apartment building. Must I have an apartment manager on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week? Answer: California law requires that you have a manager, janitor, housekeeper or other responsible person reside on the premises representing the ownership when there are 16 units or more. They do not have to be working 24/7.

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Question: I have tenants whose lease ends at the end of this month. Can I begin to show prospective tenants the unit while my current tenants are still under a lease? Answer: You can show the property to prospective tenants at any time during the lease, upon giving reasonable written notice of intent to enter (24 hours is presumed reasonable under the law) and the entry is done during normal business hours.

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Question: We rent our detached in-laws quarters in the back yard of our property. Can we specify in the “house rules” that no visitors are allowed on the property? Also, can we specify “no smoking” in or around the unit? Answer: You could prohibit smoking, since it is a health and fire hazard. Restricting visitors would most likely violate the tenant’s constitutional rights of freedom of association.

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Less than four months remain before a California plumbing code change bans water-wasting fixtures in older multifamily housing. The code change comes from Senate Bill 407, a water-conservation law that’s been rolled out in phases since 2009. The phase taking effect on Jan. 1 applies to pre-1994 multifamily housing and commercial buildings. Since the mid-1990s, California has required that all plumbing fixtures sold within the state meet water-conserving benchmarks. So if you’ve replaced your fixtures since that time, you are likely in compliance. But if your apartment building was built before Jan. 1, 1994 — and you still have some… Read More

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Question: If a rental unit is broken into and there is subsequent damage, who is responsible for the repairs? Answer: If the damage is to the rental property as opposed to the tenant’s personal items, the tenant could be held responsible if the landlord could prove the tenant was negligent for instance by leaving their doors or windows unlocked. Otherwise, the landlord would likely be responsible to fix the repair, but would not be responsible for the tenant’s personal items.

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Question: If a guest causes problems or damages the property, what is my recourse? Answer: The tenant is responsible to pay for the repair of any damage caused by their guest’s negligence or intentional act. If they fail to pay, a three-day notice to perform conditions and covenants or quit can be served, followed by an eviction.

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