Every stare in the US has a very specific set of landlord-tenant laws. And you need to use these as a guide as to how you interact with your tenant in a number of areas. They were made for both of you, to provide protection. Coastline Equity is based in California, and we have some of the most extensive landlord and tenant laws in the US. And depending on which city your property is in, there are even more guidelines to watch out for. However there are some general ones you can consider. Here are our top 7 tenant and landlord laws you should be aware of:
You have to be really careful how you use eviction and criminal background checks when you are looking at a potential tenant. Make sure you give your tenant specific questions and allow them to get their checks. Then you need to send these in 3 days. You also need to be aware of what to do and not do on your tenant screening checks.
According to the Fair Housing Act, on a federal level, there are some things you CANNOT ask your prospective tenant. It is illegal to ask about:
Rental Agreement Check List
In California, your rental agreement needs to be created, written and signed if your rental period exceeds 12 months. If it is just for a few months it can be an oral agreement. In California, you also need to check if disclosing information on the following applies to your property – (this list has links to the relevant codes which may apply to you)
*Information about military bases, which may be nearby and have live ammunition
*Records of death in the unit within the past three years
* Records of death in the unit within the past three years
There are also a number of rental agreement do’s and don’ts you should be aware of. You need to give your prospective tenant this information before they even apply to move in. It usually involves areas of risk, even if they aren’t a problem at your property.
*Flood hazard information
*Mold risk information
*Carcinogenic material information, like asbestos or radon
*A link to Megan’s Law, which is a website which discloses information on resident sex offenders.
Security Deposits and Limitations
In California, you don’t need to collect a security deposit. However it is highly recommended you do. But you need to collect it within the guidelines given by California law. The reason this deposit is helpful is because it can give you protection if your tenant doesn’t pay. There are some security deposit limitations you need to think about.
Most landlords ask for one months rent as a security deposit. However you can ask for up to two month’s rent in most cities in California. This procedure limits landlords like you from collection more than two months unless the unit you are leasing is furnished. This is under the landlord and tenant law California security deposit. When a unit is furnished you can collect up to three month’s rent. You do not need to provide a receipt for your security deposits when you get them. However we recommend you do so for the benefit of both your and your tenant’s records.This should include the date, amount, names, and information about where the money will be held during the rental period on the receipt. In San Francisco, a landlord has to pay interest on any security deposit they have. You can check this with your local rental board.
There will be some instances when you can withhold a security deposit in California:
*Your tenant owes you rent
*Your tenant left your unit dirty
*Your tenant caused damages, which you consider beyond normal wear and tear
However, if none of these apply, you need to give it back to your tenant in its entirety in 21 days of their move out. But, if your tenant has done any of following, then you have to provide proof as to why you feel you should keep some of the money.
*Providing your tenant with an itemized list of what costs are being covered by the security deposit.
*Give them copies of paid receipts with this list.
*Take pictures of all items and areas in question so in the instance of your tenant disagreeing with your withholding, you have photographic proof.
*Send this itemized list to your tenant with their remaining security deposit within 21 days of the tenant moving out.
Usually you need to make any repairs, which you feel are a result of the tenant in 21 days. This is because you have to provide receipts. However, if the repairs are substantial, you can hire a contractor to do a quote.
Rent & Rent Control
When you have a rental property the rent is one of the key things you need to handle. Here is how rent works in California. There is only one regulation regarding rent payment: You cannot require that a tenant pay you in cash. The only reason you have, to make that demand, is if they have given you a bad check within the last three months that has bounced. You can use any system you wish which works best for both of you.
If you are not in a rent control area, you can raise the rent. However there are some regulations, which are as follows. When considering rent increases:
* Make sure you give 30-days notice. Under landlord tenant law California, a 30-day notice be must be given.
However, if the amount of the rent increase and all prior rent increases during the last year is higher than 10% of the lowest rent during that time, you have to give 60 days of notice. If there is a rising market value in the area or you wish to increase your profits, you can raise the rent. But if you don’t like your tenant and you are raising it to try and force them out, it is illegal in California to do this.
Rent control is when a city or municipality sets a limit on the rental prices in the area. It usually means you cannot raise it a certain amount per year. There are no specific requirements. The following cities have rent control laws:
East Palo Alto
You need to make sure you read up on the rent control news and information if you have property in one of these areas.
You can charge late fees for rental payments but there is a limit on how much. According to California law, the late fee has to be a reasonable amount. You need to remember it matches up with any costs you may incur as a landlord. It also has to be in your lease agreement. California state law doesn’t give any more specific guidelines.
If you liked this blog post, check out our other blog post on things you should consider when you inherit real estate.And don’t forget to check out our Facebook and LinkedIn.