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 Dec 2014 Part 2

Posted: 19th December 2014 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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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
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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.

Legal Questions Dec 2014 Part 1

Posted: 5th December 2014 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers
Ted Kimball, Esq. December, 2014

1.    Question:
Do I always have to give written notice to our resident before making a repair? They called yesterday and we simply made an appointment for the plumber to meet them at the property next week.

Normally, you would have to give a written 24 hour notice, but if the tenant and the landlord orally agree to an entry to make repairs or supply services for a specific date and time, and the entry is within one week from the date of the agreement, no written notice is required.  Also, in cases of emergency or abandonment, the landlord is not required to give written notice.

2.    Question:
Can a resident legally drink alcohol in the outdoor common areas of an apartment community?

Landlords have the right to restrict the drinking of alcohol in the common areas of the premises.

3.    Question:
My tenant vacated and has damaged the unit more than the security deposit will cover. The tenant had a co-signer on the agreement.  I have written the tenant and co-signer with no response after 30 days. Do I file a small claims action against both the tenant and the co-signer or should they be separate lawsuits?

You can file against both of them in the same small claims court suit.

4.    Question:
What are the reasons that a tenant can legally break a lease agreement? Is relocation due to a job change a legal reason to break the lease?

Relocation of a job by a tenant is not a legal reason to break a lease, unless the lease allows for this specific event.

5.    Question:
My rental property is a house in a rural area.  I do allow animals, but do not want any pit bulls. Can I specifically state that?

You can determine what type of animals, if any, you allow on the property and should make this clear in the lease or lease addendum.  If the animal is a support animal for a disabled resident, however, different rules apply.

6.    Question:
Our tenant has a roommate who is paying him half the rent. The roommate is not on the rental agreement. When the tenant vacates, can I ask the roommate to also vacate without evicting him?

Your tenant is not “off the hook” until you regain possession.  If you accepted rent directly from the roommate, the roommate most likely became your tenant as well. If the roommate doesn’t vacate when the tenant moves out, you will have to go through with the eviction process. The best idea is to have them both on the agreement.

7.    Question:
If a tenant gives a 30-day notice on the 15th of the month, is it legal to charge them the full rent for the next month and return the prorated remainder of the rent once they have turned in the keys?

No, they are only required to pay the pro rata portion of their rent for the next month.

8.    Question:
What is the best way to say no to an application and avoid a discrimination lawsuit? The prospect’s credit is worse than he said it was, and I want to avoid trouble.

You are required by law to inform the tenant of the reasons in writing for denying the application if the reason was partially or wholly based upon the credit report. The best way to deliver this news is to inform the prospective tenant that if he/she can get the credit history cleaned up, you would be happy to have him reapply.  Reject the application, not the applicant.  Be sure you are applying the same rental standards on all applicants.

FBS code for UBER ride!

Posted: 3rd December 2014 by Melissa in Uncategorized



FBS takes home 4 awards at SDCAA’s 2014 Mark of Excellence

The San Diego County Apartment Association’s (SDCAA) Mark of Excellence Awards is one of Southern California’s biggest events to recognize excellence and leadership in the rental housing industry. These awards demonstrate characteristics that benchmark success.

The main awards event recognizes individuals and properties that stand out in the areas of leasing, management, resident retention, and maintenance.  With both large and small properties represented, these awards encompass the entire industry as a whole and recognize the best of the best.

Bree Castro, Property Coordinator at FBS, took home the top award with a 1st place win for Leasing Professional of the Year. Bree has shown tremendous growth and passion for leasing. Her hard work and dedication has led to hundreds of homes across San Diego being leased at an incredible pace.

Jay Scheinok, Property Supervisor at FBS placed 3rd , out of a large group of nominees, for Property Manager of the Year. This is an incredible accomplishment and a nod to the impact Jay continues to have on the rental housing industry.  Placing top 3 in a category filled with some of San Diego’s biggest companies, shows the tremendous growth FBS and its employees continue to have.

Finally, two properties managed by FBS were awarded 2nd and 3rd place for rental community of the year. This award recognizes rental housing communities that maintain the highest level of excellence in service, maintenance and overall operation.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Legal Questions Nov 2014 Part 2

Posted: 25th November 2014 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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8.    Question:
Our window was broken by a golf ball hit by the tenant of a neighboring property. They admitted they owed me for a new window but moved away before I could collect on it. Is the owner of the property responsible because it was their tenant?

The owner of rental property is not normally responsible for the unforeseeable acts of their tenant.  In order for the owner to be liable, you would have to prove that the owner knew or should have known his tenant would have caused physical damage to your property, and the owner failed to take reasonable steps to protect your property from harm.

9.    Question:
One of our residents admitted to breaking a window in his unit. Our management company wants to make the repair and deduct it from his security deposit.  Please give us your opinion if our management company is using proper procedures.

A resident is liable for damage to the unit caused by any resident or their guests and invitees. The owner/manager, however, can make the repairs and require the resident to reimburse them for the costs of repair. The owner/manager can either deduct the amount from the resident’s security deposit or serve the resident with a 3-day notice to pay for the repair.  If the resident fails to do so within 3 days, the eviction process may begin.

10.    Question:
How long is an eviction kept on credit reports? Does it state the apartment complex or the owner’s name on the credit report?

Credit bureaus delete judgments from a consumer’s credit report after seven years.  The apartment complex will appear on the credit report as the plaintiff in the eviction case if the case is filed in court with the apartment complex named as the plaintiff.

I have a resident who was just put in a detoxification clinic.  Her sister wants me to allow her inside to remove all of her personal possessions and move her out because she says the resident is not planning on returning. What can I do to protect myself from being sued by the resident because someone took her belongings and management re-rented the unit?

Under California law, you do not have the legal right to allow the sister inside to collect your resident’s personal items without the consent of the resident. Therefore, any family member who wants inside should provide written authorization from the resident or power of attorney allowing them to enter the unit.  Make sure the signatures match or require a notarized statement and check identification.  Likewise, if the resident is intending to vacate the unit that should also clearly be stated in writing by the resident.

12.    Question:
I am an on-site manager and I am upset because I was tape-recorded without my knowledge or permission by someone who was “shopping” the apartment community. Is this legal?

The law protects individuals from being secretly tape-recorded during conversations in a situation where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy.  There are civil, as well as criminal, penalties for violation of the rights of privacy through secret tape recordings. However, there is no violation in cases where the expectation of privacy does not exist, such as telephone answering devices.

13.    Question:
My understanding is that unlawful detainer actions remove the tenant from a specific rental unit. My contention is that the tenant is also not allowed anywhere on the premises of the common areas of the premises after an eviction.  Frequently the evicted tenant hangs around the premises and causes additional problems out of spite. What can be done and what are my legal rights as owner?

If an evicted tenant returns to the common area of the rental property without invitation by any of the current residents, or without your permission or consent, he or she is trespassing. The common area of the apartment community is under the direct control of the owner and manager, and anyone present without authority or consent is guilty of trespass.

14.    Question:
I received a judgment against my tenant for past due rent and costs of the suit.  How do I collect the judgment? How long is it in effect? Do I have to take the tenant back to court to collect?

Once you receive a judgment for money, half the battle is the collection of the judgment. California law allows owners of judgments to garnish wages, levy on bank accounts or other non-exempt personal property and conduct judgment debtor examinations in court to locate assets or wages. The judgment is good for 10 years and can be renewed if the court is convinced that you have diligently pursued collection of the judgment.

Legal Questions Nov 2014 Part 1

Posted: 21st November 2014 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers
Ted Kimball, Esq. November, 2014

1.    Question:
Our tenant, who has lived there for more than one year, is on a month-to-month term and the house he is renting has been listed for sale. We understand that when a property is being sold, the 60-day notice of termination of tenancy is not required and that a 30-day notice is permitted once an escrow is opened.  Is that correct?

A 30-day notice may be given in these circumstances only: if it is a single family residence, the buyer is going to move in and live there for at least one year, the notice is given within 120 days from the date escrow opens, and the tenant was not already served with a 60-day notice.

2.    Question:
A tenant gave a 30-day notice of move out on the 10th of the month and turned in his keys to the owner 5 days later on the 15th.  Is he still liable for the balance of the rent owed?

Yes, the tenant still owes for the 30-day notice period, unless the landlord is able to relet the premises before then. The landlord has to make a diligent effort to relet.

3.    Question:
A husband, wife and three children reside in an apartment. The husband was granted a restraining order, preventing the wife from living in the unit. The wife is now requesting a copy of the lease.  Should we officially remove her name?

No, but you should give her a copy of the lease. You should also have a copy of the restraining order and, if accurate, not allow her access to the unit.

4.    Question:
We have served our tenant a 60-day notice of termination of tenancy; however they have quit paying the rent. Now we are preparing to send a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. What is the next step if they do not pay?

If the tenant does not comply with the 3-day notice by paying the rent, you can commence eviction procedures.  If the rent owed is paid, the 60-day notice is still valid unless you asked for rent that goes beyond the 60-day notice period.

5.    Question:
Our tenants were supposed to move out in two weeks.  However, the house they were moving into is not completed and they need to stay for another fifteen days. I have no problem with this, but my question to you is what if they do not vacate on time?

You should have them sign an extension of their lease so if they fail to vacate you can proceed with an action for unlawful detainer.

6. When you return a security deposit disposition to the vacating tenant, what is the statute of limitations if they do not agree with the deductions and wish to sue in small claims court?

If your rental or lease agreement was in writing, the statute of limitations is four years. If the agreement was verbal, it is two years. The time starts to run from the date of the alleged breach.

7.    Question:
My renter was backing downstairs carrying a 38-pound bag of clothes and fell and broke her wrist.  Can I be sued and a judgment obtained against me?

You would only be liable if you were negligent in the way you maintained the stairs and your negligence was a proximate cause of the injury. You should notify your insurance carrier as soon as possible.


Mark of Excellence 2014

Posted: 21st November 2014 by Melissa in Uncategorized

2014-11-20 20.08.51

2014-11-20 16.00.34 2014-11-20 18.55.49 2014-11-20 19.21.31


“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.