The New Year is well underway and it’s time to ensure your property management policies and practices are optimized to stay out of trouble, minimize cost/penalties, and maximize your return. The suggestions below are a great starting point to ensure just that…
(1) All landlords in Los Angeles who own properties subject tothe Rent Stabilization Ordinance (otherwise known “Rent Control” [shivers]), are required to post a notice providing tenants with basic information about rent control and contact information for the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHD). For once, the housing department has made compliance easy on us. They have prepared the notice for us and it is linked below. The one page document should be posted in a conspicuous place, like near the building mailbox, elevator, or any other area frequented by tenants.
(2) Be sure to pay your rent registration fees and SCEP fees on time. Fees are due January 1st and if not paid by the end of February, they are delinquent. Note that the 28th of February is a Saturday this year, so get this done by Friday the 27th to avoid delinquency fees that could triple the amount you owe. If you do not know where your renewal notice is, call the LAHD at (213) 808-8900. Remember, you cannot evict a tenant if the building has not been registered!
(3) Civil Code Section 1632 requires you to provide a copy of a lease in the same language the agreement was negotiated in. This means, for example, if you discuss the terms of a tenancy in Spanish and agree to terms, you must provide a copy of the lease to your tenants in Spanish. Many landlords do not have access to copies of their leases in other languages, but there are ways around this requirement. If the tenant supplies their own adult translator who can speak and read English fluently, then providing the English lease agreement will suffice. Should you choose to comply with the code requirements and provide a copy of the lease in another language, all subsequent notices must also be served in that language.
(4) To avoid security deposit disputes with tenants after they depart, remember to offer move-out inspection notices at least two weeks prior to the move out date. Landlords must notify tenants of their right to request a move-out inspection, which will give them an opportunity to make repairs on their own instead of having the cost of repairs deducted from their security. If the tenant does not respond to your offer of a move-out inspection, nothing more is required by the landlord. If the tenant wishes to have a move-out inspection, one must be scheduled no earlier than two weeks from the move-out date. The landlord should serve a 48-hour notice of the inspection, preferably at a time mutually agreed upon. After the inspection, the landlord must provide an itemized statement to the tenant of what repairs need to be performed. There are many useful forms that can make this process easy to complete.
(5) Be sure to account for all security deposit deductions and refunds within 21 days of departure. Include receipts with the accounting.
(6) Make sure all smoke detectors and carbon-monoxide detectors are working. If you do not have them installed, install them immediately.
There are countless guidelines you should follow, spanning from the acceptance of rental applications to the departure of a tenant, that cannot be fully discussed within the contents of a blog. Be sure to contact an attorney if you have questions about your management practices.
Rent Control Notice: http://lahd.lacity.org/lahdinternet/Portals/0/Rent/RSO%20NOTICE%20(2).pdf