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In October, Gov. Jerry Brown signed AB 60, which provides for the issuance of drivers licenses to undocumented individuals and specifically prohibits discrimination against an individual because he or she holds or presents a license issued under the new law. Existing California law (Civil Code Section 1940.3) prohibits rental property owners and their agents from making inquiries about a tenant or applicant’s immigration and/or citizenship status.  These laws raise some questions about appropriate screening practices for undocumented applicants. When are the new licenses going to be available? AB 60 set a deadline of Jan. 1, 2015, however, the California Department… Read More

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Question: I have a tenant who caused a fire in an apartment which resulted in a substantial amount of damage. The fire department concluded the tenant was at fault. Can he be liable for my deductible? And, can I take it out of his deposit? Answer: Yes, in fact he is responsible for all losses suffered (your insurance company may want to pursue him). Question: I have renters who recently informed me that they are moving. The lease does not end for another six months. Now what happens? Answer: The tenants are liable for the rent up to the date… Read More

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Question: Can I give a rent increase anytime during the month or just on the first day of the month? Answer: If you have a month-to-month tenancy with the tenant, you can serve a written 30-day notice (or 60-day notice if you are increasing the rent more than 10 percent within the last 12 months) to increase the rent at any time of the month. Question: We are planning on selling a rental house. The tenants said they do not want a lock box put on the front door. Can we do it anyway? Do we still have to give… Read More

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Question: How long do I have to mail the tenant the itemized security deposit? Answer: You need to send an accounting for the use of the security deposit within 21 days from the date you took back possession. If you do not have all of the amounts or receipts in time, you should give the tenant an estimate and then send the final amount within 14 days after you receive the final amounts and/or receipts. Question: I have a lease with a tenant that terminates next month, and he has been given notice that the  lease is not being renewed.… Read More

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Question: If a resident dies and was on a lease, does the estate still owe rent up until someone new moves in? What about a month-to-month agreement? Obviously the person couldn’t give a 30-day notice.  Answer: Death does not terminate term lease obligations. The resident’s estate remains responsible through the end of the lease term, unless the resident’s estate relinquishes possession of the premises to the landlord, and the landlord is able to re-lease the premises to a new tenant. Month-to-month residential tenancies terminate 30 days after the last rental payment by the deceased tenant (Civil Code §1934). A 30-day… Read More

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Question: I have a prospective tenant whose company will pay his rent as a perk to his job. Who must sign the lease? Answer: It is our strong advice to have both the company and the individual sign the lease. If the employment is terminated, you would have a stranger in your unit without a signed lease. 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… Read More

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