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…

Thank you for Choosing FBS

Posted: 24th November 2015 by Melissa in Video
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This week is about giving thanks!
You have a choice in Property Management and we appreciate that you consider us. We hope you will take few minutes to watch this video about why we want you to choose us!

This video is a tribute to those who continue to work with FBS!

Thank you for choosing FBS!

Legal Questions Nov 2016 Part 2

Posted: 23rd November 2015 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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FBS operates Rental Properties for Independent Owners utilizing Industry Best Practices which creates direct benefits to our Rental Customers. We have provided Superior Housing Alternatives now in our 5th Decade. Our available rental inventory changes daily. www.fbs-pm.com

As professional managers we must stay on top of local, state and federal laws, regulations and housing codes that are imperative to our clients and rental customers. We review and update our contracts, policies, forms and routines with the help of KTS (Kimball, Tirey and St. John).

Here are some situations we have asked Ted Kimball to weigh in on

10. Question: One of our tenants is moving out, but the roommate wants to stay and invite a friend of hers to take the out-going tenants’ place. How do we indicate this on the lease? Answer: One way is to draw up a new lease, assuming the new person meets your rental standards, with new signatures unless you want to hold the vacating tenant responsible for the remainder of their lease. In that event, simply add the new tenant to the lease and have them sign.

11. Question: Our tenants deposit their rent directly into our bank account. This has worked well because we know exactly when the rent has been paid. Now we need to evict for non- payment of rent. Can they still deposit the rent and if so, have I hurt my case?
Answer: Acceptance of rent after an unlawful detainer action (tenant eviction) has been filed is a waiver of the right to evict in most cases. To avoid this possible defense, write your tenant a letter documenting that you are not going to accept any more rent at this time. Periodically check your deposits and if rent was paid, send it back as soon as possible.

12. Question: I am a first time landlord and I rented my condo with a two-year lease. Now I need to sell and have been told that my tenant is the one with all the rights. What are my rights?
Answer: You have the right to sell the property and the buyer would “step into your shoes” as landlord and must honor the lease. The tenant must also allow access to the property to prospective purchasers, agents, etc…

13. Question: I am considering leasing to a corporation for use by their relocating personnel and/or short time visitors. Who/what do I name as the tenant (s) to assure that any future legal action can be handled expeditiously?
Answer: List the corporation and all occupants who are 18 or older as tenants on your lease documents.

14. Question: Can tenants change their locks without permission and refuse to provide a key to the property manager?
Answer: Most leases restrict any alterations to the premises without your permission or consent and most leases specifically restrict changing locks without the landlord’s permission.

15. Question: If a friend of a tenant appears to be living in the apartment, is there a time limit which allows me to compel the guest to fill out an application to be added to the rental agreement? Can the tenant have guests stay as long as they want?
Answer: If your lease prohibits subletting or assignment of the lease, or if your lease restricts the occupants to those named in the lease, the tenant could be in violation. You would need to prove that the person really moved in and was not just a guest. A common “guest” policy is two weeks.

16. Question: I do not know how to start the thirty-day notice to terminate. I have given a three-day notice for non-payment of rent, but I do not know what to do next.
Answer: If the tenant has not complied with the three-day notice, there is no reason to serve a thirty-day notice. Instead, you may start the unlawful detainer process in court immediately.

17. Question: My question concerns residents who deposit their check in the rent drop box after the due date. The lease provides that rent is due on the first and if it is not received by the fourth it is considered late and a $25 late fee is imposed. On the morning of the fifth, the rent drop is emptied and any checks received after that time are deemed to be late. Each month there are a few residents who put an earlier date on the rent check and drop it in after the fourth. How should we respond to this situation?
Answer: It makes no difference when the check is dated. If the check is delivered after the fourth, the tenant owes the late charge. By dating the check earlier, it only raises a question of proving when the check was first received. So long as you can demonstrate to the satisfaction of the court that the check was delivered late, you should be able to enforce the late charge.


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Legal Questions Nov 2016 Part 1

Posted: 9th November 2015 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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FBS operates Rental Properties for Independent Owners utilizing Industry Best Practices which creates direct benefits to our Rental Customers. We have provided Superior Housing Alternatives now in our 5th Decade. Our available rental inventory changes daily. www.fbs-pm.com

As professional managers we must stay on top of local, state and federal laws, regulations and housing codes that are imperative to our clients and rental customers. We review and update our contracts, policies, forms and routines with the help of KTS (Kimball, Tirey and St. John).

Here are some situations we have asked Ted Kimball to weigh in on

1. Question: If I gave a resident a thirty-day notice of rent increase which ends on the tenth of the following month, can I charge the resident pro-rated rent for the first nine days at the daily rental value before the rent increase and the other twenty one days at the daily rental value of the increased amount?
Answer: Yes, the rent increase is effective thirty calendar days from the date of service of the increase. The notice has to be for sixty days if the rent increase is more than ten percent from what it was one year before.

2. Question: Is there a “rule of thumb” for carpet depreciation?
Answer: It depends upon the quality of the carpet. You need to find out from the manufacturer the life span of the carpet under “ordinary wear and tear.” If it has to be replaced before that time, it may have been subject to extraordinary wear and tear and then the tenant would be held liable for the loss of use of the carpet.

3. Question: If the contract says no pets, but does not specify fish, can I stop a tenant from keeping a 150-gallon aquarium?
Answer: Fish are considered pets by most judges so they are violating the lease by having a 150-gallon tank. A small goldfish bowl may not constitute a major breach, but a 150-gallon tank most likely does.

4. Question: I have a former tenant who claims, since she had a one-year lease, she is not obligated to give a thirty-day notice.
Answer: There is no statutory requirement that a thirty-day notice of non-renewal be given during a fixed term lease, but if the lease requires a notice of non-renewal and she fails to give one, she is in breach of the lease and can be liable for any losses you suffer as a result.

5. Question: Can an apartment community charge a monthly pet rent and pet deposit to have a pet?
Answer: Yes, so long as it does not apply to service animals for the disabled.

6. Question: How does one collect on a judgment against a former resident?
Answer: A judgment can be collected in a variety of ways: wage garnishment, bank levy, seizure of non-exempt personal property and sale are the most common. A judgment debtor examination can also be used to locate assets, and if the debtor fails to appear, a warrant is issued for their arrest.

7. Question: One of our tenants was recently arrested and is incarcerated. How does this affect his lease? Is it considered abandonment?
Answer: The incarceration of a tenant does not have a legal effect on the tenant’s right under the lease. If the tenant breaches any part of the lease agreement, such as non-payment of rent, the landlord may take legal steps to evict, and can serve notices to the tenant while in jail.

8. Question: One of our residents is a day sleeper and complains about the noisy children next door. They are under school age and I don’t know how or if I should enforce excessive noise. Answer: Most courts recognize that apartment living is in closer proximity than single family homes and occupants must be more tolerant of disruptions, considering also the time of day or night and the cause of the disruption. If the noise the children make is not excessive for daytime tolerance, it is likely there is no violation of the lease or community rules. Having another witness to the noise would be helpful to see which side you end up on!

9. Question: One of our month-to-month residents gave a thirty-day notice to vacate the unit and now it is the thirtieth day and he refuses to move. What can I do now? Do I have to serve him with my thirty-day notice?
Answer: If the tenant’s notice was in writing, the tenant is legally bound to vacate the unit within the thirty-day time frame. Failure to do so allows you to immediately file an action for unlawful detainer (tenant eviction).

FBS for Real Estate Investors

Posted: 26th October 2015 by Melissa in Video
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FBS in our 5th decade of continuous operation remains completely unique. Though we currently operate rental property in 69 zip codes we continue to provide quality housing standards to all our renters while administering custom management to each rental owner.

Take a quick look!

Yvonne Rosas on FBS Marketing and Customer Service

Posted: 21st October 2015 by Melissa in Video
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Rent Sense: San Diego Goes Platinum

Posted: 16th October 2015 by Melissa in Rent Sense
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“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 since 2007.

“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 write what they know, now in their 5thdecade of RE investment, operating rental properties and building the real estate related businesses that support quality housing. They still possess the passion that drives their daily involvement with people and property.

“Rent Sense” has become a “must read” as a blog or column being carried by numerous respected industry publishers including – Apartment Management Magazine published since 1958. Readership in San Gabriel Valley, South Bay/Long Beach, Western Los Angeles, San Fernando Valley, Orange County, Inland Empire and San Diego County is currently estimated at 80,000 rental property owners  representing 2.5 million rental homes, condos and apartments throughout southern California.

These guys have had a strong advisory, brokerage and management presence in northern California as well. “Rent Sense” has been picked up by Landlord Property Management Magazines. For over 50 years, Landlord publications have been dedicated to helping and providing information to the owners and managers of multi-housing units, income properties, residential rentals, and commercial properties throughout California. Their monthly publications are mailed directly and posted digitally to 43,000 apartment owners, managers, property management companies, and leasing offices – representing over 1,000,000 units throughout Northern California: San Francisco, Silicon Valley, East Bay, and Greater Sacramento.


Rent Sense: San Diego Goes Platinum

Neil Fjellestad & Chris DeMarco 

In recent columns we have tried to demonstrate how California compares with the rest of the country as a world ranking economy. Nine California regional economies and nine associated geopolitical regions were specified in about 1998 by the California Regional Economies Project. There are numerous similarities. For instance, there is no region in California where residential rents are affordable to those in the bottom quarter of household income distribution. There are also significant differences. In this column we will detail one region that has shown remarkable economic break-out this century.  We believe this to be valuable throughout the golden state because savvy investment capital that is already based in California has reasons to stay but will optimize return through regional targeting.

Historical Value

For this discussion let’s look at the San Diego region as one large unique parcel; from 30,000 feet if you will. Value is determined by scarcity and utility. Natural terrain borders create scarcity for this parcel and if the utility never changes then value can only be driven by perceived and/or real changes to scarcity. We’ve traditionally defined San Diego real estate value this way. But what if the utilization of the parcel is evolving into something different? Say for instance, that this region during this century is transforming into an international economic hub? If correct, it will re-set all assumptions of value.

New Realities Are Challenging Traditional Concepts

Cities have always been the natural economic units of the world. But over the past half century, clusters of cities and city regions have grown outward and into each other, forming megaregions. More than just a collection of cities or one giant city, a megaregion is greater than the sum of its parts. A megaregion dominates commerce; employment and lifestyle attractiveness in a central way and therefore, is becoming an international standard for the assignment of financial investment and economic resources due to the comparatively unique strategic value to the whole.  Much of our entrepreneurial career has been spent observing, monitoring and interpreting these economies and specifically their short and long-term effect on real estate related businesses.

There are a dozen megaregions in North America.  San Diego is the southern piece of the Los Angeles centric So-Cal Megaregion. However, changes within the last 10 years and during the next 15 will likely make San Diego the centerpiece of a new Cali Baja Bi-National Megaregion.   There are no less than ten 21st century economic drivers that are and will continue to define this revised destiny. This is due in part to the following: proliferation of STEM technologies and industries, generational proficiencies and preferences, and a geographically “one-of-a-kind” location.  The interaction between these factors will create a diverse employment (multi-generational & multi-cultural), attract international notoriety, and drive financial investment at sustained levels never before experienced.

Illustrations abound: the premier desalinization plant on the west coast (privately funded and operated) is only a single example of our dynamic “blue economy”; the only U.S. city and one of four worldwide to be showcased in a National Geographic documentary “World’s Smart Cities”; a growing “biomed cluster” that cannot be duplicated and enjoys the attention of the U.S as well as other leading world governments; the same is true for “cyber security”  and the privatization of “space transportation”; emerging energy sources including acres of wind-turbines constructed with parts supplied throughout the international community, constructed in Mexico and plugged into the California power grid.

In addition to 21st century trends there are also generational tipping points being experienced that will likely change the composition of traditional real estate demand. We can use metrics to know exactly how we’re doing. Our regional economic dashboard uses 20 different metrics to track the region’s standing among the 25 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas. This transparent feedback will be conducive to a more strategic approach to economic growth.

Tipping Points Create Permanent Change

Understanding investor mentality in order to create and/or modify the strategy for owners of local rental property is a separate challenge. Why own; to what end; and how to change outcomes? A tipping point is that we have an entire generation that could retire without self-sustaining resources. Baby boomers are realizing they can’t get there from now with their current investments and/or the traditional financial strategies available. Investment alternatives are expanding to include the power, protections and flexibility of independently owning local single homes, individual condos, small apartment and commercial properties held long term as rentals to build wealth and provide retirement income.

Another tipping point – It is no longer uncommon that millennials will buy to own an investment while remaining renters themselves.  Rent securitization, steady low interest rates,  expanded 1031 exchange utilization, transaction crowdfunding, reverse and/or shared equity mortgages, and  Self-Directed IRAs are all part of this 21st century alternative investment surge. If millennials don’t prioritize to become real estate owners through these alternative means they likely will stay renters by choice. Such choice by many of this generation will be seen as a logical reflection of the times and their priorities.

In 5-10 years millennials (Y & Z gens) will occupy 75% of both local rentals and jobs. They are more educated, connected, collaborative and demanding as employees and customers than any generation before them. They believe in the integration of work, play and family; not bogged down with having it all or plagued with achieving balance. They are accustomed to freedom of space and connectedness. They were raised to be a preferred customer especially about housing. For the first time we have 5 generations (separating millennials into Y & Z) in the workplace along with at least as many generations of technological communication. Properly acknowledging the uniqueness of various generational individuals while raising group emotional IQ is a new leadership mandate. Keeping everyone on the same page but in their own lane is a 21st century management challenge.

We need to listen to a millennial generation that would have us be more collaborative and connected. We can be in step with the changes all around us though we must be educated and pro-active.  Though there are some technologies that we remember this new generation doesn’t even call any of it technology. To them it is life as they know it and they can’t understand why the way we do things at work is as different from real life as they know it.  Take a different look at how others view things. But enjoy history and what it has given you. Change is a good thing especially for those of us old enough to appreciate a good thing.

Opportunity Happens When People Are Slow to Change

San Diego has a deep housing problem because we refuse to provide new housing within the region the way we use it; about half of us rent.  We cannot change the supply significantly until we change our paradigm and unless we dramatically change the process right now.  To predict outcomes in the SD Region we cannot focus on local history but rather need to study comparable situations elsewhere to see the free market reaction to bad planning. There are less affordable areas in which we have had extensive real estate business experience.  Examples include: NYC metro plus adjacent NJ corridor; Boston metro and the SF-SJ Peninsula. Each has useful comparable elements with SD Region. Each is a centerpiece of socio-economic change that fosters educational opportunity, lifestyle diversity and international investment. A high barrier for residential development especially rentals hinders a steady housing supply.  Each produces significant annual employment totaling at least 3 times their annual new housing starts. All of these conditions have existed in each area for multiple years.

The real estate results are knowable. Comparable ‘for sale housing prices’ are up to 5 times the national median and ‘rental rates’ are up to 3 times the national median with imbalances growing worse with the economic recovery. This is San Diego’s future. There should be no doubt that anyone owning San Diego rental property without debt and performing within ‘industry best practices’ will enjoy a financial future similar to other successful small business ownerships.  By the way, nationwide four out of ten rental properties are single homes or individual condos and especially in this region perhaps the best way to own rentals.

Change creates problems. Problems keep us creating solutions; the bigger the problem, the better the solution. One thing for sure, in 5 years (2020) everyone will see things more clearly, right?  Most will watch San Diego go platinum while savvy investors will participate.

Rent Sense: Keeping California Golden

Posted: 11th October 2015 by Melissa in Rent Sense
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Rent Sense: Keeping California Golden

Neil Fjellestad and Chris De Marco

Last month we presented facts that support the idea that California is a golden state like no other with a growing world-class economy. In previous articles we have emphasized the potential rental business opportunity within this arena. Now we want to highlight your public responsibility connected to this privileged circumstance. While you have been hanging on to what you own something besides you has been at work. During the last decade “the real estate bubble” was the headline particularly here in California but it was another related story that was re-defining your financial future.

California Rental History

From 1990 -2005 California residential rental rates were held back due to the perception by housing consumers and providers that rental housing was completely financially-driven. People that rent only do so because they cannot buy. Educated consumers coming of age economically and/or forming a more enduring household would immediately abandon rent for a mortgage. Any remaining rental households were destined to “affordability” issues. Rental owners would have to fight to collect rent due and would face rebellion if any attempt was made to raise rents.

The result was two-fold. For real estate investors the main incentive was price appreciation due to general inflation and lack of land near employment centers to build residential. For real estate developers there was a clear choice to build houses and condos further out rather than fight for infill higher density apartments to take advantage of this modern perception that price inflation would make real estate investors of everyone.
We should point out that savvy long-term real estate rental investors are generally more familiar with urban regions east of the Mississippi where population density and public transportation are a way of life. In this environment renters are responsible citizens that have chosen to rent for generations. These generational tenants complain about rent increases and conditions like the weather. Both make easy conversation but neither is controllable.

These same urban neighborhoods attract long-term rental ownership: also generational, not looking for glamorous but needing dependable return. Such investors could rarely get excited about our “Disneyland-like real estate market.” Though price inflation secured with leveraged funds is very exciting it is the essence of speculation, by definition. Rental ownership families and institutions are not speculators.

Present Rental Reality

An interesting external change was taking place during the decade of great recession followed by a slow, uneven recovery. Even while real estate prices collapsed and mortgage rates hit bottom (conditions that tantalized individual and institutional speculators) not many had the circumstance, the inclination or the ability to buy. Still, people had to have housing. Rental housing was gratefully available to a growing need but not at a reduced rental rate. As time passed and still no housing was getting built so rental rates (unlike before) reflected true housing value. When real estate investors and developers realized that this change was not temporary new rental housing is supplied ahead of the anticipated rental rate increase. This has the effect of re-establishing rent as the time-honored measure of increased real estate value. Rental Owners are in an enviable position at an opportune time.
After 2005 we have been steadily returning to our normal housing reality. Of our California households, 45-50% rent. This reality is determined by external forces that are unlikely to change any time soon as there are still a significant number of residential properties that are “underwater.” In addition, our state’s improving employment is sparking rental demand particularly among millennials. Though nationally renters are paying 30% of their income to rent such is not the case in California. Using the criteria that more than 30% paid out for rent creates a financial hardship for that household (including the ability to save sufficient to become a home buyer) every county in the entire state is unaffordable. However, it is far worse in the regions creating the most employment. Los Angeles tops the national list of % of income for rent at 48.2% and California cities completely dominate with six out the top ten. This circumstance will create ongoing opportunity for rental owners that recognize and capture the full potential of their business.

It is just as imperative to realize that we have a business stewardship as responsible long-term rental housing providers. Housing is as much a part of our local, regional and statewide economic infrastructure as roads, public transportation, not to mention sources of fuel, water and energy. Our renters are our customers and as such we have a dual responsibility to make sure their housing needs are met while we require attractive business incentives to do so. Why? Rental ownership and operation have to remain attractive to the next generation of investment. Why? Ask any seasoned legislator, government administrator or officer of the court for a short list of limitations including: factors limiting the scope of government involvement and effective action; reduced public confidence in government ability to act prudently with transparency and accountable for deliverable results. Unlike the other infrastructure pieces housing will continue to be left primarily to the private sector to solve. There is no Plan B; we’re it and it’s time we know it and act the part.

Rental Industry Must Lead

As we see it our industry needs to consider several things that represent change in thinking and action. We must think of ourselves as necessary infrastructure investors as we address housing solutions in terms that respect the private sector. Additionally, we speak on behalf of our rental customers representing about half of households statewide. We understand their housing challenges and financial resources better than anyone. Some of these concerns we can address within our industry while others will need government lead, cooperation and support. We need to lead with a higher expectation for quality rental operations throughout our membership. If the Better Business Bureau (BBB) can produce an accreditation and award system across a diverse business membership our industry can certainly extend our internal reach, creating an environment that demands and delivers transparent rental business “best practices.”

Since nearly 100% of individuals are renters before they are real estate owners we need the cooperation of public institutions to educate each new generation of renters. This can create an evolving “rent sense” mentality that will promote: respecting contractual terms, responsible behavior within a household and between neighbors, and realistic expectations about their future housing options. With the cooperation between our courts and schools maybe an adult “renter certification” can reduce the current load of “unlawful detainer” and/or “small claims” actions.

What is the point of presenting these non-traditional examples of promoting behavioral changes through proactive measures? We have to model and mentor best practices; inside our respective businesses and within our industry associations. We must consider that making a difference might mean thinking and acting differently. We should challenge ourselves initially with a review and plan for change. We must ask government for change as well. The four core responsibilities of government are: economic prosperity, security, social cohesion and environmental sustainability. Their responsibilities constantly overlap with our own. It’s interesting that we usually can recognize the failure of government to perform without seeing our own complicity in that failure.

What changes should we expect from our governmental counterparts? To what degree will we lead, cooperate and support such change including an expansion of government policy, shifting regulations, and new programs? What innovative tools would we consider in order to initiate and drive change?

According to a recent in-depth study Future State 2030: The global megatrends shaping governments we should require ourselves along with our counterparts to review possible changes to structure, strategy and skills in order to meet the challenges that certain megatrends will present for the next 15 years and beyond. This study identified nine megatrends. These are as follows: Demographics, Rise of the individual, Enabling technology, Economic
interconnectedness, Public debt, Economic power shift, Climate change, Resources stress, and Urbanization. We would do well to also understand how interrelated these trends might become to us regardless of our current exposure. Technology is connecting people instantaneously and can dramatically disrupt existing assumptions. Think how unprepared rental owners in E.U. countries are impacted by the unforeseen immigration of 1 million people due to wars that were a “world away.”

Legal Questions October 2015

Posted: 8th October 2015 by Melissa in Legal Questions
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FBS operates Rental Properties for Independent Owners utilizing Industry Best Practices which creates direct benefits to our Rental Customers. We have provided Superior Housing Alternatives now in our 5th Decade. Our available rental inventory changes daily. www.fbs-pm.com

As professional managers we must stay on top of local, state and federal laws, regulations and housing codes that are imperative to our clients and rental customers. We review and update our contracts, policies, forms and routines with the help of KTS (Kimball, Tirey and St. John).

Here are some situations we have asked Ted Kimball to weigh in on


Landlord/Tenant Questions & Answers

Ted Kimball, Esq. October, 2015

1. Question:  Can you tell me if someone needs any kind of certification or license to manage property in California? I want to hire someone to manage some of my smaller (less than 10 units) buildings. This person will accept rent, give out notices, handle complaints, and supervise maintenance work.

Answer: They are required to be a licensed real estate broker in order to manage property in California for a third party.  An exception is for a manager who lives on-site.

2.   Question:  Am I within my legal rights to ignore oral notices and demand written 30-day notice for a month-to-month lease termination?

Answer: Yes, California law requires termination notices to be in writing.

3.   Question: We do not have any HUD housing. When a Section 8 applicant asks us if we accept HUD housing, what is the best answer?

Answer: Indicate to the applicant that the property does not participate in any governmental assistance program at this time, but they are welcome to apply if they are willing to forego their subsidy.

4.   Question: One of our tenants paid us $50.00 per month rent less than what his lease required. We did not catch the mistake until after his third month.  He says he does not owe it because we waived our right to collect it when he paid his rent. Is he right?

Answer: Probably not. If your lease contained a non-waiver provision, it should be upheld in court. Even if your lease were silent on this issue, he would have to prove that you knowingly waived your right to receive full payment by accepting a lesser amount.

5.   Question: Is there a clear definition of what constitutes “ordinary wear and tear”? My husband and I are spending day and night trying to clean and repair our once beautiful home we rented out and need to know how much to charge back to our tenants.

Answer: There are not many legal guidelines on this issue so many judges use what they consider a common sense approach. We advise landlords to seek an opinion from the manufacturer of drapes, carpets, and appliances as to their expected lifetime assuming ordinary wear and tear. If the item needs replacing before that time, you can use this as a guideline to determine the pro rata amount to charge back to the tenant.

6.   Question: One of my residents recently had her phone line repaired. The telephone company charged her $60.00.  She did not notify us of the problem before ordering the repair. We could have made the repair ourselves at much less cost. The tenant wants me to pay the bill. What do you think?

Answer: California law deems owners of rental property responsible for the inside wiring to the property.  However, tenants must first give landlords notice of a needed repair and provide a reasonable time to make the repair before undertaking a self-help action. You shouldn’t have to pay more than what it would have cost for you to make the repair.

7.   Question:  Must 3-day notices to pay rent or quit be served to all delinquent tenants at the same time? We manage a large apartment community and sometimes have a multiple of notices to serve.

Answer: California law does not require that you serve 3-day notices to all delinquent residents at the same time.  It is a good idea to do so, however, in order to avoid the appearance of favoritism or discriminatory conduct.

8.   Question: Our tenants have a one-year lease. They gave me a 30-day notice of intent to vacate two months short of the one-year lease expiration. What should I do?

Answer: You should let them know in writing that a 30-day notice has no legal effect on their obligations under the lease and they remain liable for the rent until the lease expires or the date you are able to relet the premises, (once they vacate you have to use due diligence to relet), whichever comes first.

9.   Question: Our tenant’s children put a 6-inch hole in a plaster wall of the house they are renting. The tenant readily admitted that the children “might have been punching the wall a little.” What are our legal options?

Answer: You can serve a 3-day notice to perform conditions and covenants or quit to require the tenant to pay for the repairs to the wall.  If they do not comply with the notice, you should prevail in an eviction.


Past President’s Column

Posted: 2nd October 2015 by Melissa in Rent Sense

Past President’s Column
By Neil Fjellestad

The theme this month is safety and emergency preparedness. I have been invited inside industry companies across the U.S.usually at the behest of the key executive responsible for the performance of their frontline service providers. Rarely does the assignment stem from a concern for safety and/or emergency preparedness but within the advisory relationship these topics are discussed and/or issues discovered. These assignments usually get done by identifying the key areas to change, defining the solution, getting buy-in, designing an action plan, and coaching the team through implementation.
I have learned much in my attempt for positive change within all kinds of organizations, varied circumstances and with mixed results. I believe that a review of a handful of ideas and specific experiences might prove useful when applied to this theme.

In my experience if you want to create change in an organization you must first identify that which you are willing to change in yourself that leans into the kind of change you intend for the organization. As you seek to model new behavior you will discover the difficulty. Exemplary change doesn’t happen just because you decide. Such change requires a guiding principle; a concept that acts as a compass during a change of direction. Here’s an example. Often a rental owner feels entitled beyond what is reality. Questioned about an action they retort, “I can do what I want. I own the property.” Here’s a different concept to consider. Yes, you own the property but it is your renter’s home. It goes further than that. You are in the business of leasing out your property. Your renter is your customer to whom you have contracted to provide all the privileges of doing business with you: sole possession, quiet enjoyment all of which includes some expectation of personal safety, convenience and privacy. Surveys of residential rental customers verify that these are the psychological drivers enticing them to absorb their biggest financial commitment.

Our local fires in 2003 and 2007 taught us that while there are conditions over which we have no control a correct concept can shape an appropriate response under pressure. I remember vividly that my business partner and I took several calls from distraught out of area owners of individual rented homes in neighborhoods reported to be in the path of various fires. Some demanded that we go to the homes and secure them. Though acknowledging their concern we indicated that we would be staying off the roads as directed by local authorities. Likewise, we would not be going into neighborhoods restricted to residents nor breaking in to their homes. We would rely upon the renters to do everything possible under the emergency conditions to preserve and protect their home. This was the same message we delivered to renters as well. Sometimes a sensible communication consistent with a correct precept is all you have to keep the peace during the emergency.

Then there are other times when a condition can be an anticipated emergency. Over several years I visited New Orleans (pre Katrina) in the capacity of management consultant, educator and coach. One visit stands alone as it taught me more about the value of neighborhood, sense of community and character of the onsite frontline team. I was one of a consulting team that was brought in by a distant corporate ownership to evaluate the operational value of this senior apartment community; 239 homes. We were to determine team effectiveness and develop a recommended plan moving forward. This assignment was intended for 3-5 days and included living onsite. Second day in and everything is progressing. Relationship with the team was unexpectedly easy as the Property Manager had enjoyed a NAA designated course we had conducted several months previous. We were in a planning meeting when I asked if a TV that was playing could be shut off. I didn’t expect the answer which was that the team was on standby due to latest update on hurricane Georges which put us in its direct path. This was the preamble to the next 4 days of adventure, giving me unique experience I will always take with me. This was a study in effectiveness achieved when a team is on the same page. I wanted to join this team.

As the day went on ½ million people left N.O. as we methodically hunkered down. Fortunately, there was an onsite diner and we all ate whatever the cook had mind (and supplies) to prepare. The residents that stayed did so knowing that all that could be done was accomplished. Though in the last hour before projected landfall Georges took a dramatic turn away from N.O. there was still a tropical storm to weather for which we were grateful.
I know that the discussion of safety and emergency preparedness does not get a lot of attention until a situation presents itself that puts everything else on hold. When personal safety is breached and/or public well-being is compromised we abandon our routines, alter our present priorities, rethink alternatives and for some, redefine our future. Only after the situation is removed, resolved or past can we evaluate whether everything that could have been done, had been done. If not, why not. If we identify a list, what from that list would we prioritize to do differently, within what timeframe, and at what cost? Often, we want and need to get back to the rhythm of priorities ever present within the normal operational cycle. Left to these natural tendencies most realities remain unchanged but perhaps we, at least can remember: concept for a compass; consistency applied to practical outcomes; and communication throughout are all essential to managing the unexpected.