Legal Questions March 2017

Posted: 9th March 2017 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)
Ted Kimball, Esq. weighs in:

1. Question:
I recently purchased a triplex, and the escrow will be closing in a couple of days. The tenants are currently on a month-to-month rental agreement. Do I have to wait until the end of the month or can I serve a 30-day notice as soon as I take possession of the property?
Answer:
You can serve a 30-day notice at any time during a month-to-month tenancy. You do not need to wait until the end of the month. You are also entitled to rent for the 30-day time period. If all of the tenants in the unit have been a resident for more than one year, a 60-day notice is required to be served.

2. Question:
I have heard five different answers from five different people. Please, tell me what I can legally deduct from my tenant’s security deposit.
Answer:
Rights and obligations regarding a residential tenants’ security deposit are governed by California Civil Code Section 1950.5. It is clear that you can use the deposit at least for cleaning, delinquent rent and damages above ordinary wear and tear. What is considered ordinary “wear and tear” is subject to a variety of opinions by judges. In order to convince a court that the damages were extraordinary, check-in and check-out records of the condition of the apartment, pictures, receipts and opinions from those who did the work make the job of determining ordinary wear and tear easier for the court to decide.

3. Question:
I have filed an eviction against one of my residents for failing to pay rent for the last two months. I served the notice on a Saturday and someone said I had to serve it on a business day. Are they right?
Answer:
No. A 3-day notice for breach of the lease can be served on any day of the week. The tenant has three full days to comply, but the last day of the notice must end on a business day.

4. Question:
I am a manager of a 56-unit complex. One of the tenants informed me that his girlfriend moved in. I gave him an application and told him to have her fill it out and then return it to me. It has been ten days and I have not gotten it back.
Answer:
If the lease prohibits the assigning or subletting of the premises without your permission, you can serve a 3-Day Notice to Perform Conditions and/or Covenants or Quit, detailing the violation. The notice should require that they either turn in the application or she must vacate the property within the 3-day period. If they do not comply with the notice, you could commence eviction procedures.

5. Question:
I served one of my tenants with a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit. He did not comply so I served a 30-Day Notice to Quit. If the tenant does not move out by the 30th day, should I call the sheriff to evict him?
Answer:
The sheriff will not evict your resident unless you have gone through the unlawful detainer lawsuit and produced a judgment for possession. You could have filed the unlawful detainer action after the 3-day notice expired; you did not need to give the tenant an additional 30 days.

6. Question:
I recently received an application from a young married couple. He is twenty but she is only seventeen. I told her she was too young to sign the rental agreement and he had to qualify on his own even though she was working. She said because she was married, she was qualified to sign. I never heard of this law. Is she right?
Answer:
California recognizes an individual’s right to enter into binding contracts if they are eighteen years of age or older, in active duty in the military, married, or are emancipated by order of the court. You therefore should treat her the same way as you would any other adult applicant.

7. Question:
A couple recently applied for one of our vacant units. They have jobs but do not quite qualify for the unit (they need to make three times the amount of the rent). They said that his father would be willing to co-sign as a guarantor in order to qualify. How should I work this arrangement on the lease?
Answer:
Guarantor agreements are separate and distinct from the lease and may be rendered void if the lease is modified without the knowledge or consent of the co-signor or guarantor. Carefully drafted guarantee agreements can eliminate this risk.

8. Question:
One of my two tenants on the lease moved out due to a job transfer. The remaining tenant would like to stay and pay the entire amount. Do I need to write up a new lease or simply prepare an addendum stating the remaining tenant is solely responsible?
Answer:
You can either have the tenant sign a new lease or just keep the current one in place. There is no need to have a new lease drawn up unless you are changing some of the terms and the current resident is in agreement. Each resident is already obligated to pay the entire amount of the rent under most leases if they have a clause that states the residents are “jointly and severally liable” for all requirements under the lease including the payment of rent.

9. Question:
What are the guidelines for landlords regarding bedbugs? One of my tenants moved in and found a bedbug infestation after a week. She claims the unit had them. I maintain there were none and possibly her furniture became infested in storage. Who is responsible?
Answer:
Liability would fall on the tenant if the landlord can prove there were no bed bugs in the unit prior to the tenant moving in. This could be done with circumstantial evidence such as testimony from

the prior tenant. A pest control expert could also be hired to render their opinion as to the cause of the bed bug infestation.

10. Question:
Due to a slow leak resulting in water damage, I have had to move my tenants out of the unit. I understand that I have to pay to put them up in a hotel. How long do I have to pay for a hotel? Answer:
Generally speaking, state law only requires residential landlords to relocate residents while work is being performed if the unit was not habitable due to the negligence of the landlord for failing to maintain the plumbing properly. If the leak was no one’s fault, then the landlord cannot charge them rent during the time away from the unit and must pay for the repair but they are not required to find and pay for temporary housing. If it were the tenant’s fault, the tenant is legally obligated to pay for the repairs as well as the rent. Keep in mind local rent control ordinances may have different requirements. If you do have to pay for temporary housing, it is best to arrive at an agreeable “per diem” payment and allow them to find suitable housing.

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