Posted: 4th January 2012 by Melissa in Uncategorized

Welcome to the FBS Rent Sense Blog. We will be posting weekly Rent Sense Articles written by Neil and Chris. These articles can also be seen in major publications such as the San Diego Union Tribune. Our goal is to bring quality information to help counsel those already in or interested in the industry. Check back each week to see what is new and exciting in the Property Management world.

“Nearly half of all the housing in San Diego is offered for rent. This condition has existed locally for decades and will continue for the foreseeable future. It is imperative that rental owners and rental residents respect the other for their important role in the essential segment of our local economy. The more informed each are about their respective rights and responsibilities as well as changes in the marketplace the more realistic are the expectations. That just makes good sense; Rent Sense.” – Neil,  2008

Where your home matters…

Legal Questions Jan 2015- Part 2

Posted: 27th January 2015 by Melissa in Legal Questions
Tags: , ,

11.I have been a resident manager for over four years and would like to know what a manager can do other than evict when a tenant continues to cause disturbances, e. g. loud music, singing, throwing cigarettes over the patio, etc…

The threat of eviction sometimes is enough to convince a tenant to respect the quiet enjoyment of the neighboring property.  Calling the police for extraordinary disturbances may also serve to quiet down an unruly tenant. If all else fails, you may consider eviction before other residents decide to move.

12.    Question:
I agreed to allow a resident to move in even though he could not pay the full security deposit. He was supposed to pay one third of the deposit each month. He made the first two payments but has now failed to make the third and final installment. What type of notice should I use?

The law provides that in the event of a breach of the lease other than non-payment of rent, a three-day notice to perform conditions and/or covenants or quit be utilized.  Like a three-day notice to pay rent or quit, this notice only allows the resident three days to comply or be subject to unlawful detainer litigation.

13.    Question:
I have a tenant who never pays his rent until he receives a three-day notice. We normally serve notices on the eighth of the month even though the rent is due on the first.  He is on a one-year lease and I don’t know my legal rights.

You can try serving him with a three-day notice to pay rent or quit earlier than the eighth of the month. If he fails to make payment within the three-day period you have the right to refuse the rent and commence eviction proceedings.

14.    Question:
One of our tenants has a guest who has been verbally abusive to me whenever I ask him who he is visiting. We have a large apartment community with many amenities and we need to be careful that complete strangers are not using our facilities. What can I do?

A tenant is responsible for the conduct of his guests.  Rude conduct and behavior for enforcing reasonable rules may lead to your decision to not renew the tenant’s lease when it expires. If it continues or escalates to a major disturbance, an eviction can be filed.  Be sure you are not asking “some” guests who they are visiting to avoid claims of discrimination.

15.    Question:
I have a tenant who always “races” his car in the parking area. We have families with small children and a posted five mile per hour speed limit. What can I do to make him stop?

Creating safety hazards on the premises in a continuous manner may be good grounds for eviction based upon the nuisance activity. If the reckless manner in which he operates his vehicle continues after warnings, a three-day notice to quit may be served.

16. Questions:

I have a tenant who left her window open when it rained causing water damage to the floor. She said she did not have to pay for the damage because we have insurance for this type of thing and we did not lose anything. What should I tell her?

Your insurance has nothing to do with a tenant’s responsibility for negligence.  If your insurance paid for the damage, they would have the right to be reimbursed by the tenant who caused the water damage.  You would also be able to recover the deductible you paid.  If the tenant has renter’s insurance, he/she may be covered for this type of loss.

17.    Question:
We had to evict a real trouble-maker recently, but he keeps coming back to the property to use the swimming pool and jacuzzi.  He is not anyone’s guest and some of the residents are frightened of him. What should I do?

Calling the police for a criminal trespass and disturbance of the peace is the first recommended action.

18.    Question:
I have a suspicion that one of our tenants falsified his application by giving me a different name and social security number than his own.  If I can prove this, what are my rights? I have a six- month lease and he just moved in.

If you could prove the falsification and you would not have rented to him had you known the true set of facts, the lease would be deemed based upon fraud and set aside. You could bring a successful unlawful detainer (eviction) lawsuit to regain possession of the premises.

19.    Question:
My evicted tenant left the property voluntarily three days before the sheriff was scheduled to do the lock-out.  Is it wise to keep the appointment or should I just cancel?

In some cases, it only appears that the tenant has vacated voluntarily.  A wrong guess could lead to problems.  Many property managers elect to meet the sheriff for the official lock-out. Some property managers decide on a case-by-case basis whether or not to take possession prior to the sheriff’s arrival.

Rent Sense in Apartment Magazine

Posted: 21st January 2015 by Melissa in Rent Sense
Tags: , , , ,

“Rent Sense” is a syndicated column respected and enjoyed throughout California by independent rental owners, serious real estate investors, industry professionals and savvy renters of choice. In this month’s issue of Apartment Management Magazine Neil Fjellestad and Chris DeMarco discuss why rental ownership is absolutely the investment of choice for individuals that have the stamina and the sense to buy and hold. Long-term rental ownership requires professional management as well. Neil and Chris are teaching what they know from more than four decades of operating rental properties and the real estate related businesses that support quality housing. They still possess the passion that drives their daily involvement with people and property.




The view of San Carlos from Cowles Mountain in 1969


Low vacancy means rising rents in SD

Posted: 19th January 2015 by Melissa in Uncategorized

Click below to read the article in the latest Union Tribune



Legal Questions Jan 2015 Part 1

Posted: 13th January 2015 by Melissa in Legal Questions
Tags: , ,


Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers
Ted Kimball, Esq. January, 2015

1.    Question:
What is the code section pertaining to the tenant’s obligation to pay rent subsequent to a 30-day notice?

California Civil Code 1946 requires the tenant or landlord to serve a thirty-day notice to terminate the tenancy. The rent is owed until the lease terminates.

2.    Question:
Several prospective tenants have inquired about renting an apartment for a month or two.  The high turnovers could be detrimental to the units and will create a lot of work for us in terms of doing paperwork and cleaning.  Are there any rules that require a tenant to rent a minimum amount of time?

There are no laws requiring you to rent month-to-month or a minimum or maximum amount of time.  Many landlords require six-month or one-year leases.

3.    Question:
A tenant reported a broken refrigerator at Monday, 10 a.m.. We replaced the refrigerator on Wednesday, at 6 p.m., in the same week. Now, the tenants want us to pay for the spoiled food. Should we?

You would only be liable if the tenant could prove you were negligent in maintaining, purchasing or repairing the refrigerator.  Landlords are not guarantors or insurers of the tenant’s personal property.

4.    Question:
Can I keep a security deposit if the tenant moves out and does not give me a written thirty-day notice?

Not automatically. You can deduct from the security deposit unpaid rent from the time of the move out until thirty days are up, or until the premises are relet, whichever happens first, provided you use due diligence to relet the premises.

5.    Question:
I took a $300.00 deposit from a tenant to hold an apartment pending a credit check. The credit check came in and I declined the application.  How long do I have to return the money?

There is no statutory requirement regarding “holding deposits.”  If the agreement did not state a time frame, the court would impose a reasonable period of time considering the tenant’s need for the money to rent another premise, so the sooner it is returned, the better.

One of our clients owns an apartment building that we manage.  He wants to rent some storage rooms on the property.  If he does rent the rooms, would the unlawful detainer process have to be followed if the renter did not pay the rent? Or, do these units have the same rules as storage companies?

They would have to go through eviction procedures unless they are licensed as mini warehouse storage units.

7.    Question:
One of our tenant’s dogs is constantly barking and growling at anyone who passes by their apartment. It has scared many of the other residents and they have complained numerous times.  I have explained that the lease allows pets. What can I do?

If the dog is disturbing other residents and is not being properly restrained, it probably is a violation of your lease if it contains a clause requiring tenants to refrain from unreasonable annoyances or disturbances.  If this is the case, you could enforce the lease through a notice to perform or quit. It is also useful to have pet rules that spell out acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

8.    Question:
I am evicting a tenant and gave her a thirty-day day notice. When I handed her the notice she didn’t read it, she just dropped it on the ground, so I read it to her. I then gave it back to her but she wouldn’t take it, so I dropped it on the ground.  Is this considered a legal notice?

So long as she was notified that you were giving her a legal notice and you didn’t take it back, most judges would consider this adequate personal service.  If she doesn’t vacate in thirty days, an unlawful detainer (eviction) action may be filed in court.

9.    Question:
We have an undesirable tenant in our apartment community.  He is also consistently late paying rent. We have a month-to-month agreement and I want to serve him a thirty-day notice. The next time he pays late, I want to serve him a three-day notice to pay or quit as well.  Can I serve both notices at the same time?

A thirty-day notice and a three-day notice to pay or quit can be served at the same time.   If the tenant fails to pay rent within the three-day period, you may immediately commence eviction procedures.

10.    Question:
While on vacation, my assistant was responsible for serving three-day notices to pay rent or quit in the apartment community we manage. She forgot to sign the notices.  Is this a fatal defect?

California law does not specifically require the manager or owner to sign notices served on tenants. While signing is the recommended practice, an unsigned notice should still be held to be sufficient.

Rent Sense in Apartment Magazine

Posted: 9th January 2015 by Melissa in Uncategorized

“Rent Sense” is a syndicated column respected and enjoyed throughout California by independent rental owners, serious real estate investors, industry professionals and savvy renters of choice. In this month’s issue of Apartment Management Magazine Neil Fjellestad and Chris DeMarco discuss why rental ownership is absolutely the investment of choice for individuals that have the stamina and the sense to buy and hold. Long-term rental ownership requires professional management as well. Neil and Chris are teaching what they know from more than four decades of operating rental properties and the real estate related businesses that support quality housing. They still possess the passion that drives their daily involvement with people and property. apt





Legal Questions Dec 2014 Part 2

Posted: 19th December 2014 by Melissa in Legal Questions
Tags: , ,

9.    Question:
Is there a mandatory, minimum, type size for leases?

No, but the larger the font size, the better.  Also, if you have an automatic lease renewal provision, it must be in at least 8-point font and bolded.

10.    Question:
My brother manages the apartments that we own.  He did not collect a security deposit. The tenant still has not paid it, but says he will pay this month.  Can I serve him a 30-day notice if he does not pay by the end of the month?

If you are on a month-to-month agreement, you can serve a 30-day notice.  If the agreement to pay the security deposit was part of the lease, you can serve a 3-day notice to perform or quit.

11.    Question:
This month’s rent check from a tenant had a second name printed below the tenant’s name on the upper left corner of the check. If I cash the check for this month’s rent, am I changing the terms of tenancy?

The mere fact that another person is listed on the check does not change the terms of the tenancy.  You should inquire about the other person or find other ways to determine if there is an unauthorized occupant, and if so, either have the extra person apply for residency or serve a 3-day notice to perform covenants or quit.

If I give a 60-day notice (tenants have lived there for over a year) to tenants, can they move before the 60 days are up? If so, do they have to give 30 days’ notice, or can they just move? Answer:
They can move out within the 60-day period by serving you with a 30-day notice.  If they leave before the 60-days are up without serving a 30-day notice, they still owe rent up to the date the 60-day notice expires or the premises are relet (you have to try to relet the premises).

13.    Question:
I am considering selling a duplex I own.  Both sides are rented under one year leases.  A potential buyer said he would need to move into one side of the unit and could not wait for the lease to expire. If there is a sale, doesn’t that terminate any lease I have with the tenants?

A voluntary sale of leased property does not terminate the rental agreement or lease; the new owner steps into the shoes of the former owner and has the same rights and obligations of the former owner.

14.    Question:
One of our single tenants who was renting a small one bedroom unit recently died.  There are still three months remaining on his lease. What should I do with the security deposit?

A tenancy for a specified term does not terminate on the death of either the landlord or the tenant.  Once the executor or administrator of the decedent’s estate returns possession, you should account for the use of the deposit and direct the accounting to the administrator or executor.

15.    Question:
I understand that if a building contains 16 or more units, there must be a resident manager. I have given some responsibilities to an on-site maintenance person, but I do not call him a resident manager.  Does this situation comply with the law?

The California Administrative Code requires that a building containing 16 or more units on a parcel must have a person who lives on site and is responsible for representing the owner of the property.  The person does not, however, have to be a “resident manager.”

16.    Question:
I served a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit and inadvertently asked for ten dollars less than the current rent which is due. The rent is $885 per month and I asked for $875 (I forgot to add the rent increase, which was effective three months ago). The resident paid the lower amount and now I want to serve a notice for the ten dollars owed.  He says I blew it and he does not owe it. Is he right?

The fact that a notice to pay delinquent for a lowered amount does not automatically prevent the owner or manager from demanding the full payment. Service of a 3-day notice for the difference should be enforceable.

How can we enforce the entry rules clause in our lease? One of our residents is refusing to show the rental unit to a prospective purchaser of the building.

California’s Civil Code, among other permitted uses, specifically requires residential tenants to allow the landlord to show the rental unit to prospective purchasers and their agents.  Failure to comply could lead to an action for unlawful detainer after service of a 3-day notice to perform or quit if the resident refused to give reasonable dates and times for the entry.

18.    Question:
I have a tenant who is driving everyone in the apartment complex nuts.  He plays his stereo and television all day and all night and keeps everyone up. We call the police constantly but they can only do so much.  I want to evict him but he signed a one-year lease.  None of the notices I have make sense in this situation. What can I do to get this noisy tenant out?

If the tenant is producing major and continual disturbances to the quiet enjoyment of the neighboring property and it is severe enough, the court could allow you to evict the tenant after service of a 3-day notice to vacate. This notice does not allow the tenant to cure anything.
Therefore, it has to be a severe situation. Otherwise, writing warning letters and documenting the disturbances can bolster your case if the tenant does not stay quiet.

19.    Question:
My rental unit is 15 years old.  One month after a large man rented my unit the shower pan cracked. We are sure it was because of his weight. Who is responsible for the repair?

If the crack was due to “normal wear and tear,” it is your expense.  If it was caused by extraordinary wear and tear, i.e. abuse, it is his expense.  The tenant could argue that a shower pan should hold any person’s weight, but it also depends upon the way it was used and the age of the pan.

Ask Ms. Mgmt- Dec 2014

Posted: 15th December 2014 by Melissa in Ms. Management
Tags: ,

Ms Mgmt

Q- I am an onsite manager of a large apartment community. I spend so much of my time with my team and though I never envisioned dating any of my coworkers that is exactly what has happened. We determined that we would keep our relationship outside our work place. Therefore, we have told no one and so far it has worked. The downside of our decision is not knowing what anyone else thinks. So, I’m asking, what you do you think?

A- I’m not surprised.  My experience that has spread over years, geography and a variety of people tells me that your story is not unusual.  However, your situation needs immediate attention. Eventually, your relationship will become public knowledge. Before this happens you need to know where you stand and develop a plan. What does your employee handbook outline about these circumstances? Depending upon how specific these directions you’ll want to be receive confidential guidance from your supervisor and/or H.R. department. Often your personal relationships can dictate career decisions. One of you might need to resign or ask for transfer to another work location. Don’t let someone else tell your story. If this personal relationship is going to endure and thrive it needs to be transparent to those that rely on your leadership, communication and results. Take charge while it is your choice to come forward before being found out. The choice is yours but realistically it is a choice of sooner, not later.


Q- I’m a leasing professional that is proud of what I do at my property and for renters looking for a quality apartment home. Recently I have been transferred to a property within my company’s portfolio that is experiencing increased turnover which gives me a lot of apartments to lease. Here’s my problem. I’m showing apartments that I’m not confident have been made market-ready. I get a lot of surprises on tours. Not fun. I usually talk them through these awkward moments with statements like- “No problem, this apartment will be prefect when you move in”. Well, that turns out to be a lie about half the time. So, instead of an excited new resident I’m getting mad, p@#$*d off customers that come back to me to make it “perfect” or else. What can you tell me before I lose my enthusiasm for being a leasing star?

A- This is not an uncommon spiral that plagues apartment communities from time to time. The physical condition of the apartment when toured is a compelling part of the leasing process. It says so much about resident expectations, management policies and the quality of maintenance routines and repairs. It also is a statement of whether you and your company deliver housing value at a competitive price.

Delivering what is promised at move-in is imperative. Unrealized value by a resident at this “point of sale” will stick with them through the entire lease. It will bubble up in a variety of circumstances when you expect certain things from them including- paying rent on time, reporting maintenance repairs before major damage to the property, giving and responding to notices in a timely fashion. The list goes on and on.  The point is if they moved in with a belief that saying one thing and delivering less is okay for you it paves the path that anything goes on their end.

Here are several routines that need to be applied with energized leadership from the entire team to correct these serious conditions.

  1. Market- ready apartments require the attention and priority of the entire team. As a leasing specialist you should be walking these daily. If onsite maintenance team members cannot keep up with the upcoming availability it is a situation that needs the targeting of specific apartments including: cooperation of leasing and/or prioritization by management and/or the temporary use of external maintenance from other company properties or outside vendors.
  2.  There must be a community team standard for market-ready. Your weekly team meeting should periodically be conducted inside a vacant apartment home. Everyone should be asked to closely walk the apartment with specific questions in mind. Would I rent this apartment for the quoted rent? If not, why not? What expectations would you need satisfied? Each team member should be given opportunity to contribute. This exercise over a short period will create a team expectation of value.
  3. The next step is to consistently deliver this value to every new prospective resident on tour and every move-in. This is done with a ready checklist that is posted in each vacant apartment and initialed by everyone that touches the turn. An apartment is ready when the documentation including a final walk says it’s ready. Finally, upon move-in a team member does a personal walk-through with the resident. If there is an item needing correction a written service request is processed with urgency.
  4. The same standards and procedures can be developed for the common areas including common area checklists that get the entire team identifying and delivering community value.

San Diego Property Management – 92071 and 92072- Santee

Fjellestad, Barrett & Short (FBS) is the Santee and Lakeside Property Management Company of choice for residential properties, rental homes, condos, townhomes and apartments for rent in Santee and adjoining Lakeside. FBS fills more residential vacancies, collects more rent and supervises more property maintenance in 92071, 92072 & 92040 than other San Diego East County property management companies.
Fjellestad, Barrett & Short (FBS) established its complete property management and advisory services in 1972 and has been operating rental properties throughout Santee, Lakeside and San Diego East County for independent rental owners in an exemplary manner that recognizes renters as their preferred customers as well.

The San Diego Better Business Bureau recognizes Fjellestad, Barrett & Short (FBS) as an accredited local business and has awarded FBS an A+ rating. Read a BBB reliability report on Fjellestad. Whether you are an independent rental owner needing property management in Santee, CA, a renter looking for the best rental housing alternatives within Santee and adjoining Lakeside; there is one property manager that stands out – Fjellestad, Barrett & Short (FBS).

These ZIP codes encompass the municipality of Santee and some adjoining neighborhoods. An aerial view shows the centrality of this valley with Scripps Ranch and Poway to the north; Tierrasanta and Mission Trails Regional Park to the west; El Cajon to the south; and Lakeside to the east. SanteeÕs evolution from being a small, backcountry village in the late nineteenth century to becoming a modern city is a fascinating and colorful story. From the communityÕs original founders to those who led the incorporation drive toward it becoming a city almost a century later, SanteeÕs history is filled with people who shared a vision of this community becoming somewhere extraordinary. This same enthusiasm has continued today including the milestone of the identification of this area as the Santee Redevelopment Area in 1981. This and subsequent events have turned this 1767 acres into one the fastest growing, diverse and well planned hubs in the region.

Today Santee is steadily becoming the center in San Diego East County for residents, employers and retailers. Much of this current pattern is due to the growing accessibility to the entire San Diego region via the 3 freeways that now transverse the valley (SR-67; SR-52; and SR-125). In addition, the Santee Transit Center serves city-wide bus transit and links to the Mission Valley East (Green Line) providing trolley service to SDSU, Allied Gardens, Qualcomm Stadium, Mission Valley and Old Town. Alternative local access is provided to the Orange Line. Currently 91971 has a population of 54000 (29% renters) and 92072 has an additional 22,000 (25% renters). There are 1660 local businesses employing over 15,000. River View is a 1.9 million SF master planned, 104 acre, mixed-use campus designed for technology, R&D, and professional offices.

Santee has more than 100 national retailers located in 10 local shopping centers. All the box stores are represented including: Costco, Target, Wal-Mart, KohlÕs, Home Depot, Lowes and two Walgreens featuring drive-thru pharmacies. City Aquatics Center and YMCA facility are the start of Town Center (a master planned, 55-acre family recreation playground). Santee Lakes Recreational Preserve has been voted one of the best campgrounds in San Diego County featuring 190 acres of picnicking, hiking, boating, fishing and camping with 300 full hook-up campsites and a 130 space RV site.

Rental options in Santee and Lakeside include older rental properties (duplexes to fourplexes), mobile homes, newer mid-size apartment communities, and an increasing number of individual condos, townhomes and single homes to rent.