Avoid Fair Housing Disputes

Mar 27

Guidelines to keep in mind to help you avoid Fair Housing complaints and lawsuits:

 

Check references, income, and credit. Many landlords simply make it policy to require credit reports for each and every tenant, no matter the circumstance. It is easy to run a credit check or a criminal background check for a minimal feel. Also, you should verify the applicant’s employment, income and bank account information as well as take the time to call their references, especially previous landlords.

Make decisions based on business reasons. Although you are entitled to reject applicants based on poor credit histories or unstable incomes, do not make the mistake of making your tenant choices based on personal reasons.

Understand the Fair Housing laws. The Federal Fair Housing Acts (42 U.S. Code §§3601-3619, 3631) specifically prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, familial status, physical or mental disability (including people recovering from addictions).

Train your staff to respect these rules. Property owners, managers, real estate agents, and all of their employees must also follow Fair Housing laws or the owner may be held liable for an employee’s discriminatory statement or conduct.

Be consistent. This is crucial when dealing with prospective tenants. If you arbitrarily set tougher standards for some and not others you are opening yourself up to lawsuits. Same goes for cutting someone a break and not others.

 

For additional information about the Fair Housing Act click here or call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

Keeping Good Tenant Records

Feb 27

When facing a tenant-landlord dispute, certain records can mean the difference between a resolution and a lawsuit. Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation has prepared this list of documents you should keep on record:

 

Keeping a good paper and electronic trail for tenant, includes the following documents before tenant move-in:

  • Tenant’s and co-signers’ rental application, references, credit report and background information
  • Signed lease or rental agreement, along with any amendments
  • Property inventory including a description or photograph of the condition of each piece of property you provided prior to move-in

 

After tenant moves in, add the following documents to the individual’s file:

  • Your written requests for entry and their answers if provided
  • Notices of rent increases or late payments
  • Detailed records of repair requests and when they were handled
  • Inspection reports and safety and maintenance updates
  • Any e-mails and correspondence, even notes about phone calls

 

In addition to the rental and property information, you will want to keep up-to-date contact and necessary personal information about your tenant, such as:

  • Address or unit number
  • Move-in date
  • Tenant’s phone number
  • Name, address, and phone number of tenant’s employer
  • Credit information, including where the tenant banks
  • Monthly rent amount and due date
  • Amount and purpose of any deposits, including information about location of deposit and interest payments
  • Tenant’s vehicle make, model, year, color and license plate number
  • Tenant’s preferred emergency contacts
  • Whatever else you believe to be important

 

Finally, be sure to keep good records of your rental income and expenses for your own landlord tax purposes.

 

If you have questions or concerns click here or call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

Key Differences Between Leases and Rental Agreements

Feb 20

Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation has helped clients understand their lease and rental agreements and obligations. Both leases and rental agreements are legal contracts that establish the terms of tenancy, but the primary difference between the two is the length of tenancy.

 

Before we go any further, it is important to explain the meaning of the word “term.” In a lease, rental agreement, or any other type of contract, “term” is used in two different ways:

 

To delineate rules or conditions. For example, if the agreement says, “The terms of the lease (or rental) include $600 rent due on the 1st day of every month, no pets, and no painting the wall or any other surface of the rental unit.” This means that you must pay this rent, you cannot have a pet in the unit, and you cannot apply paint to any surface of the unit. If you do not abide by these things, you will have broken (or “breached”) the agreement, and the landlord may be entitled to give you termination notice.

 

As a way to describe the length (months or years) of the agreement. For example, the agreement might say, “The term of the lease is one year from date of signed contract.” This means that you must pay the rent and abide by the property rules for one year and you’ll get to live there for that time.

 

Rental Agreements

Rental agreements are usually shorter tenancy period, usually one month. And the landlord can change the rental agreement with proper written notice at any time. A month-to-month rental agreement automatically rolls over each month unless the tenant or landlord give notice to end the agreement.

 

Leases

Leases are much more rigid and usually last for a longer period of tenancy. You and your landlord are bound by the original terms of the lease agreement until the lease ends. Your landlord cannot raise the rent, change other terms, or force you to move out unless you breach an important term of the lease such as not paying rent or violating property laws. At the end of the tenancy, you or your landlord may decline to renew or negotiate new terms or sign with the same term. If the tenancy is renewed, the lease can turn into a month-to-month rental agreement.

 

For more questions or concerns about landlord-tenant disputes, click here or contact Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885 to speak with an experienced attorney.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

10 Things You Should Do Before Your First Move-In

Jan 30

Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, wants its clients to be protected. We have put together a list to help you remember what you should be doing to prepare for your first move-in. Always remember, that maintaining good and professional relationships with your tenants can help you down the line.

  1. Purchase general liability insurance. A comprehensive landlord insurance policy will protect you from out-of-pocket financial responsibility for any losses, damage, or injury that occurs on your property. Protection typically ranges from fire and vandalism damage, to injuries or losses suffered by tenants or visitors on your property.
  2. Switch over utility bills. Put the utilities in your name and make sure they are turned on before the property is shown and occupied. Marketing a rental unit without power does not usually go well. Once the unit is rented out, the utilities can be switched to your tenant’s name.
  3. Call the tax collector. You want to make sure that your tax and water bills are sent to your correct address so that you don’t miss a payment and end up with interest charges, late fees, or a lien on your property.
  4. Service the rental property. Make sure that the rental property and appliances are properly repaired and in good working order. Ignoring repair and maintenance will cost you more in the long run and you may be violating the law if you fail to provide habitable rental property.
  5. Pay special attention to water heaters and oil tanks. Have your water heaters tested and cleaned regularly, if this falls within a vacancy period or not.
  6. Buy new appliances if necessary. A full set of appliances is a great marketing point for any rentals, especially if they are new. Plus, there are some great energy-saving models available nowadays. Although new appliances are not necessary, appliances should be in good working order before anyone moves in.
  7. Connect with current tenants. If you have just purchased your rental property and a have a good tenant that occupies the property, it is best to continue that relationship. You should also get all records, especially tenancy and maintenance documents, from the previous owner of your new rental property.
  8. Organize good record-keeping systems. Keep track of all information relevant to owning and managing your rental property, such as a general ledger of all rents paid and owed, tenant complaints, and tax deductions available for landlords.
  9. Learn about Landlord-Tenant laws. California State Law covers every aspect of renting a property, including choosing tenants, the standards of habitable living, collecting and using security deposits, and more. If an issue arises, consult with an experienced Landlord-Tenant attorney.
  10. If necessary, contact an agent to list your property for rent. You may be able to handle the unit marketing and tenant screening on your own and save yourself money. But you’ll also have to spend time showing the property and running tenant background and credit checks. Whatever you choose, make sure to have clear and legally accurate rental agreements ready when you do find a suitable tenant.

If you have questions or concerns regarding rental properties or tenant eviction in Southern Califonria, click here or call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

When Should a Landlord Hire a Lawyer?

Jan 28

Many landlords own or manage only a few rental properties, so they are unlikely to have an eviction attorney on staff. You shouldn’t really need to have a lawyer on retainer or constantly consult one, but you should be able to recognize situations in which an attorney experienced with the eviction process is necessary even for advice.

At the end of the day, landlords are still business owners– they aim to make their business profitable while avoiding liability. In certain situations, the advice and guidance of a lawyer can help you achieve these goals more efficiently. One of the most common scenarios that benefits from a lawyer’s input is eviction.

In California, an eviction lawsuit takes much less time than regular civil cases. But in order for the process to take place quickly, landlords must follow extremely strict and detailed rules, from notifying the tenant about the lawsuit to filing the correct paperwork and forms. In addition, many judges will set the bar very high when it comes to the tenant’s home. It is always a good idea to seek the help of an experienced eviction attorney if:

  • this is your first eviction
  • the tenant is fighting the eviction with a lawyer
  • the tenant is an employee you are letting go
  • the tenant is filing for bankruptcy, or
  • you must comply with rent control or housing program rules for eviction.

 

When you are in need of an experienced eviction attorney in Southern California, call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885 for a FREE consultation.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

When and How to Hire a Property Manager

Jan 24

At Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, we often see many landlords struggling to balance their tenant issues along with other careers or family lives. Whatever the distraction may be, hiring a property manager could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

What do property managers do?

A property manager deals directly with prospects and current tenants, saving owner time and worry. They handle the day-to-day issues such as marketing your rentals, collecting rent, conducting maintenance and handling repairs, even pursuing evictions. Plus, a property management company is an independent contractor, so you don’t have to deal with the stresses of being an employer.

When is it a good idea to hire a property manager?

Consider these elements when determining if hiring a property manager would be good for your business:

  • You have a lot of rental units or properties.
  • You don’t live near your rental property.
  • You don’t have time or interest for hands-on management.
  • You can afford the employment costs. Management companies are independent contractors, so you don’t have to worry about paychecks, but they do cost around 5-10% of what you collect from rent revenue. Consider the costs when determining if a resident manager or a management company is better for you.
  • You have a lot of management tasks.
  • Your property is part of an affordable housing program. While landlords receive financial assistance for participating in affordable housing programs, they must comply with strict rules and standards. You may consider a property manager to help balance those standards.

How do I hire a property manager?

  1. Screen potential resident managers with several interviews, first on the phone, then face-to-face with stronger candidates. Get a full resume or application and check with their former supervisors (at least two) about their previous job responsibilities, their character and personality traits, strengths and weaknesses. Checking an applicants credit history is especially important because they are going to be handling money. You must get their consent before ordering a credit report.
  2. Prepare a written property manager agreement to ensure that all terms and conditions of employment are mutually acceptable. The agreement should cover the manager’s responsibilities, hours, pay and grounds for termination.
  3. Prepare a separate rental agreement–usually a month-to-month agreement that can be terminated by you or the manager at any time with, typically 30 days, written notice.
  4. Meet your legal standards as an employer, including compliance with wage and hour laws, paying Social Security and payroll taxes, among other employer responsibilities.

 

Click here or call us today at (800) 985-9885 for a FREE consultation with an unlawful detainer attorney in Southern California.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website, is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

What Can I Do With My Tenants Abandoned Personal Property?

Jan 23

If your tenant moves out and owes a few months rent, it may be tempting to sell the personal belongings they leave behind, but this can be a risky move if you don’t know the legal protocol. A landlord who does not follow the rules of the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) may find themselves liable for:

  • Fines
  • Paying the tenant back for their missing property
  • Giving back the tenant’s property left behind

The processes required when handling a previous tenant’s possessions can differ according to the circumstances in which the left. The RTA outlines five of these situations.

1.    Tenant is evicted or broke the lease agreement:

If all of the guidelines for proper eviction or lease breaking were met, and there were not prior agreements made for the storage of the tenant’s property then the landlord is not held liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

2.    Sheriff evicts the tenant:

If the tenant leaves the property behind after a sheriff has evicted them, the landlord must give the tenant 72 hours to remove their property. During the 72 hours, the landlord may keep the property in the rental unit or in a safe, nearby storage area. If the landlord does not, the tenant can bring a case to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s IEU, or file a T2 with the Board of Housing. If the 72 hours pass and the tenant has left their belongings, the landlord is not held liable for selling, retaining or disposing of the tenant’s property.

3.    Tenant abandons rental unit:

Abandon means that the tenant owes rent and moves out without giving notice to the landlord to end tenancy or getting evicted by the Board or landlord. When this happens, in order to sell, retain, or dispose of the property left behind, the landlord must do one of two things:

  • Apply to the Board with an L2 application—an order stating the property is abandoned and the tenancy is ended; or
  • Serve a notice to the tenant (with a copy for the Board), stating their intentions to sell, retain, or dispose of the tenant’s property. This can be sent to the last known address or business address. The landlord must wait 30 days after the notice to do anything with the supposed abandoned property. If the tenant contacts the landlord (within 30 days of the notice) wanting their property, they have 30 more days to claim it. But, if the landlord sold the property after 30 days, the tenant still has six months to claim any money the landlord made by selling the property in question (after their rent and dues to landlord are paid first).

4.    Tenant abandons their mobile home:

Same definition of abandonment applies here as above. The landlord must notify the tenant with a registered letter to their last known address and publish a notice in a newspaper local to the mobile home.

The tenant has 60 days to claim their property. But again, the tenant has six months to claim any remaining (after rent and dues to landlord are paid) sales.

5.    Tenant Dies:

If there is no one else occupying the rental unit, the landlord has 30 days after the tenant’s death to terminate the lease agreement. However, the landlord and an executor or family member can come to an agreement about ending the tenancy and, selling, keeping or disposing of the deceased’s property. Within the 30 days, the landlord is able to dispose of unsafe or unhygienic items (such as rotting food).

 

The eviction process in California can be complex, let an attorney from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation help protect your rights and your business. Click here or call us today at (800) 985-9885 for a FREE consultation.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

Don’t Lock Out a Tenant—It’s Illegal

Jan 21

Landlords and property managers are sometimes tempted to take the law into their own hands…DON’T DO IT. When it comes to California Unlawful Detainer law, threats, intimidation, utility shutoffs, or attempts to physically remove the tenant can be dangerous and are illegal.

Despite the fact that the tenant didn’t pay rent, left the property damaged and messy, and verbally abused managers and neighbors- Don’t Lock Out A Tenant. As a landlord, you may find yourself on the wrong end of a lawsuit for trespassing, assault, slander, libel, and wrongful eviction. Defending this kind of lawsuit will be far more costly than evicting the tenant through legal means.

When a tenant sues after being locked out, they can gain actual money losses (the cost of temporary housing, utilities, spoiled groceries, etc.) and they can also sue for penalties such as several months’ rent. Tenants may even be able to remain in the premises after damages awards. Landlords who lock out their tenants can often find themselves sued over the tenant’s valuable possessions, also. The tenant will claim that their possessions were lost or stolen when the landlord locked them up or removed them.

If you are in need of an eviction attorney in Southern California, contact Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation. Our dedicated staff can be by your side every step of the way to protect your rights. Click here or call us today at (800) 985-9885 for a FREE consultation.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

FAQ Terminating a Lease or Rental Agreement

Jan 17

Most eviction lawsuits are significantly shorter in time and length when compared to regular civil cases. It is important to note that there are strict protocols which are followed in order to make this possible. If you are seeking an eviction lawyer with experience and trustworthiness, call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation. Alternatively, we have a frequently asked questions page which you may utilize.

What are the rules about returning security deposits?

Landlords are allowed to make deductions from a tenant’s security deposit, provided they have good reason and proper documentation. In California, landlords must provide renters with written notice before taking any deductions out of the security deposit. And, according to California state law, a landlord must return a tenants deposit within 21 days of regaining possession-  an itemized statement of deductions must be sent to the tenant.

What if a tenant breaks the lease?

Generally, the tenant is bound to the length of the lease unless the landlord significantly breaks the law or violates the terms of the lease—e.g. by failing to make necessary repairs, etc. California provides that victims of domestic violence, or those starting active military duty the legal right to break a lease contract.

A tenant who breaks a lease contract without good cause will be responsible for the remaining rent due in the lease term. It is required that the landlord must employ reasonable effort to find a new tenant—rather than charge the tenant for the remaining rent.

Can a landlord legally terminate the lease and therefore the tenancy?

The most obvious reason a landlord can choose to terminate a lease contract is if the tenant disobeys or violates the rules in the lease or the law. A landlord must first send proper notification to the tenant stating that the tenancy has been terminated and the tenant must leave. Laws regarding eviction are very specific, so make sure to study them beforehand.

 

For more information regarding evictions click here or call Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation at (800) 985-9885.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.

10 Terms to Include in Your Lease Agreement

Jan 15

A lease or rental agreement is the contract signed between the landlord and the tenant which sets out the rules and regulations they both agree to follow. As well as being immensely practical, a lease agreement is also full of crucial business details such as leasing time length, property rules, and repair disclosures. Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation wants you to be aware of some the most important items to include in your lease agreement.

1. Names of all tenants/occupants. Every adult who lives in the adult, including both members of a married or unmarried couple, should sign the lease agreement. This makes the tenant legally and financially responsible for their damage to the property as well as other terms in the agreement. This also means that any one of them can be held responsible for the entire rent and if one tenant violates a term of the lease agreement, you can terminate the tenancy of all the tenants on the lease.

2. Limits on occupancy. Your lease should clearly state that the rental unit is only the home of the tenants who have signed the agreement and their minor children. This gives you the right to determine who lives in your property and evict a tenant who moves in a friend or relative, or sublets the unit, without your permission.

3. Term of the tenancy. Every agreement should state whether or not it is a rental agreement or a fixed-term lease. Rental agreements usually run month-to-month until cancelled. Leases, on the other hand, typically last one year, six months or however long you want the tenant to stay and how much flexibility you want.

4. Rent. Your lease should be explicit with regard to the amount of rent, when it is due, and how it is to be paid. Remember to include:

  • acceptable methods of payment (such as personal check or certified funds)
  • if there are late charges, the amount of the late fee, and whether there is a grace period
  • any charges that incur if a rent check bounces.

5. Deposits and fees. The use and return of security deposits is a frequent source of dispute between landlords and tenants. This tension may be relieved if there are clear details about the security deposit included in the lease agreement, including:

  • the dollar amount of the security deposit
  • how you may use the deposit (e.g. for damage repairs)
  • when and how you will return the deposit and account for any deductions
  • any legal non-returnable fees, such as for cleaning or pets

6. Repairs and maintenance. In your lease agreement, clearly set out your and the tenant’s responsibilities for maintenance and repairs in order to avoid disputes and rent-withholding.

7. Entry to rental property. To avoid tenant claims of illegal entry or violation of privacy rights, clarify your legal right to access the property—for example: to make repairs, in an emergency, etc. And if it is known, state how much advance notice you will provide the tenant before entering- 24 hours notice is required by law.

8. Restrictions on tenant illegal activity. Avoiding trouble from your tenants and disputes with neighbors can be as simple as including an explicit clause in your agreement prohibiting disruptive behavior such as excessive noise and illegal activity.

9. Pets. Be clear on whether you do or do not allow pets. If you do, set clear rules or special restrictions in the lease.

10. Other restrictions. Be sure that your lease agreement complies with other state laws and ordinances including rent control ordinances, health and safety codes, occupancy rules, and anti-discrimination laws.  There are also state laws regarding security deposit limits, notice requirements for entrance without permission and other laws.

 

Drafting and finalizing a lease agreement can be complicated and confusing. It is always a good idea to seek the help and advice of an experienced attorney. Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation is just a click or call away (800) 985-9885.

 

 

This website is intended to provide general information only. Nothing contained in this article or on this website is intended to provide legal advice. By using this website you acknowledge and agree that you have not formed an attorney-client relationship with Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation and will not rely on any information contained on this website without personally speaking with an attorney. You further understand and acknowledge that Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation strongly encourages you to communicate directly with a lawyer, whether from Eviction Group, A Professional Law Corporation, or any other firm.