The Basic Steps to Evict a Tenant in California
1. Ensure You Have a Legal Reason to Evict
2. Serve a Formal Notice of Eviction
4. File and Deliver the Proper Paperwork
5. Await the Tenant Response
6. Go to Court
7. Have the Sheriff Serve a Vacate Notice
Tips for Setting the Right Price for Your Pittsburg CA Rental
Calculate the Cost of the Rental
Consider the Season
Research the Market
Think About the Days Until Vacancy
If your rental property becomes vacant, you will most likely lose out on at least a half month’s rent (often, a full month’s rent). You should consider how long it will be until the apartment becomes vacant when you’re pricing it. If you have a while to rent the property before current tenants move out, you can list the property at a higher price; if the apartment will become vacant soon, it can pay off to list lower and drive up demand for the unit.
Know the Laws
Advance Preparation Will Help Manage Needy Tenants
You may be the lucky person doing Pittsburgh residential real estate investing who never has to manage a needy tenant. However, regardless of the care with which you screen tenants, the greater probability is that you’ll run into a needy tenant from time to time. These advanced planning tips will help you manage those tenants.
Set Expectations Before Your Tenants Move In
Your rental or lease agreement should include descriptions of the tenant’s responsibilities, which will lay the groundwork for a good working relationship before the tenant even moves in. If you have community rules that tenants need to abide by, include those as part of (or as an addendum to) the agreement.
For example, rules about where to dispose of trash may not seem like something you need to put in writing. If your tenant decides that “close to the waste management area” is good enough, however, you need something in writing to support the rule that trash must be placed into the trash receptacle.
Make Complaining Easy
One of the biggest concerns of a needy tenant is that his or her voice won’t be heard. If the tenant ends up leaving six voicemails or texts on your mobile phone, the magnitude of the problem will increase each time. Automating the management of complaints and maintenance requests will save your sanity and help to satisfy the needy tenant. Once you have that written record, you’ll have another tool to use as you work with the tenant.
Enforce the Rules
Now that you’ve established rules, remember to enforce them consistently. For example, don’t accept late rent payments. A needy tenant will often have a long list of hardship reasons why the rent is late. Don’t negotiate with a needy tenant every month. Instead, explain that the agreement they signed indicated they could pay the rent on a timely basis, and stress that you expect them to do so.
A needy tenant can often turn into a tenant you need to evict. In that case, you’ll need a written history of the reasons behind that decision. Keep track of every late rent payment, every complaint and every time the tenant broke the rules. If you decide that eviction is required, learn all you can about the eviction process in California before taking any action.
Even before you’re facing a potential eviction, you can use the documented history of problems to work with the needy tenant to remove his or her “needy” status.
Maintain Your Composure
One of the most difficult things to do when dealing with a needy tenant is to remain calm. Keep in mind that it is possible to turn a needy tenant into an acceptable one. Losing your temper, or participating in emotionally charged discussions, will only reinforce the needy tenant’s behavior.
Make sure you remain in charge, and calmly explain the truth of the situation, backed up by the initial agreement and subsequent documentation.
Don’t Give Tenants Fuel for Their Complaints
A needy tenant will complain about everything. Maintenance is a big issue, so make sure you respond to maintenance requests quickly. When you set expectations for all tenants, you’ll also remove fuel for a needy tenant’s complaints. For example, needy tenants will probably dispose of their trash properly, but they’ll complain bitterly if others don’t.
Don’t assume that every complaint from a needy tenant is fictitious. If noise is a problem, check with other tenants who might recognize the problem but haven’t yet made a complaint.
Follow-up is also important. If you believe an issue has been resolved, check with tenants to confirm that they believe the problem is likewise resolved.
Managing needy tenants can take time and patience. If you’d prefer to focus your efforts on residential real estate investing, reach out to Wolfgang Property Management, who can provide professional property management services that will let you work on expanding your business.
5 Tips for Handling Needy Tenants
1. Create a Formal Request Process for Repairs and Maintenance
2. Include a Deductible in Your Lease
3. Provide a Schedule
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Say No
5. Consider Using a Professional Property Management Company
On November 8, 2016, California voters passed Proposition 64 by a margin of 56-44 percent. With the passage of this binding referendum, possession of up to 28.5 grams (slightly more than one ounce) of marijuana became legal for those at least 21 years old. Also, those of sufficient age are permitted to cultivate as many as six marijuana plants as long as they are retained for personal use only.
Voters in Nevada and Massachusetts also legalized recreational marijuana use on Election Day. The New York Times notes that recreational use of marijuana by those at least 21 years old is now legal for more than 20 percent of the U.S. population.
Marijuana and Landlord-Tenant Rights
What are the implications of Proposition 64 for California landlord-tenant rights?
Landlord’s Right to Prohibit Use
Importantly, California landlords still have the right to forbid the use of marijuana on their property. They also have the right to prohibit the cultivation of marijuana plants. However, such prohibitions must be properly addressed in the lease agreement, just like “no pets” and “no tobacco use” clauses.
Tenant’s Right to Quiet Enjoyment
When leases do not prohibit marijuana use, property owners may have to deal with conflicting tenant rights when other renters complain of the smell or possible health consequences of inhaling secondhand smoke. Tenants generally have a “Right to Quiet Enjoyment” whether it is noted in a lease or not. Loud noises, bad odors, smoke, excessive dust and high temperatures are some elements which may interfere with this right.
At the same time, a tenant smoking pot legally may counter that he/she has a right to quiet enjoyment of marijuana.
If tenants have competing legal claims, a landlord might try to resolve the issue of objectionable odors by suggesting that:
- The marijuana user shifts to consumption of the substance in food or through the use of a vaporizer.
- The tenant use a quality air filter with sufficient air-exchange capability.
- The tenant closes windows when smoking marijuana.
- Marijuana use be confined to areas near appropriate windows or doorways that facilitate ventilation.
Evictions and Just Cause
As a final option, the conflicting rights of marijuana users and other tenants may lead to an eviction action. However, it is important that a landlord have “just cause” when commencing an eviction. When there is a valid fixed-term lease prohibiting marijuana use, action is possible with a three-day notice to either correct a lease violation or move out.
Proposition 64 adds a class of recreational marijuana users in a state where there are also a group of medical marijuana users. The rights of medical marijuana users in light of Proposition 64 are not entirely clear, and different courts might adjudicate cases in different ways. Fair housing and anti-discrimination laws may come into play in some cases. It is advisable to consult with an attorney when tenants complain about another tenant using medical marijuana.
Although a fixed-term lease is a binding contract, not all terms of a lease are necessarily legal and binding. Sometimes, a tenant will dispute an eviction by arguing that certain lease clauses are not legal. For example, the exact language is important in no smoking clauses. When only tobacco products are referenced, there is no implied prohibition of marijuana use.
Since marijuana possession is still against federal law, lease provisions that prohibit all violations of state and federal laws might be used to evict a pot smoker. Also, even with the passage of Proposition 64, possession of more than one ounce remains illegal. Possession for recreational use by those under the age of 21 is also illegal.
Given the provisions of Proposition 64, landlords are well-advised to explicitly address marijuana use in their leases. An attorney focused on relevant areas of the law can work to draft lease clauses that are legal and enforceable. The preceding information is strictly informational and should not be construed as legal advice.
Contact Us Today!
Pittsburg is located along the southern shore of Suisun Bay in the East Bay area. Approximately 68,000 people live in this vibrant, growing community. Whether you need a real estate agent in Pittsburg, CA, or property management in 94565, look to Wolfgang Property Management. We also specialize in residential real estate investing services and Pittsburg, CA, homes for rent.
This is a continuation of our landlord education blog series and today we are talking about some of the most common mistakes we see landlords make in Contra Costa County when it comes to taking care of their rental properties.
If you have watched our other videos, you know that not properly screening tenants is one of the biggest mistake landlords make. Complete your due diligence and run a detailed credit and background check. More importantly, make sure you use the same process for every single applicant. If you don’t do that, you’ll find yourself in hot water.
Tenants who don’t have the money for a security deposit, or want to make payments towards the security deposit, are a bad idea. If a tenant doesn’t have the full security deposit before moving into your property, I guarantee you’ll have a hard time collecting rent. Don’t accept anything less than 100 percent of a security deposit.
Another big mistake is using unlicensed vendors to work on your property. This may save you a couple of bucks in maintenance costs, but in the long run, it costs you so much more. Either you’ll find the work was not done correctly or the materials are not holding up. You’ll need to change the carpet between every single tenant or have the same job done again. Or, something will happen and a tenant will get hurt and sue you. You’ll find yourself in court, where you’ll have to admit to using someone without a contractor’s license. Don’t work with vendors who are unlicensed.
Renting to a Friend
It might seem like a good idea to rent to someone you know; a friend or a coworker or a family member. You know them, so you assume they will take good care of your property. But what happens when they stop paying rent and you have to evict? That will get awkward and your friendship will be dead. Don’t mix business with friendship or business with family. It’s always best to rent to someone you don’t know. Relationships stay intact and there are no hard feelings. You don’t want to sit across the table at Christmas dinner from a cousin you had to evict from your property.
Another huge mistake is not making smart improvements. For example, a lot of landlords will get excited about buying rental property with a swimming pool. That’s not a wise improvement or amenity. Not only does it add an extra expense which will cut into your cash on cash return, you’ll also have a lot more liability at your property. What if tenant’s child drowns? If you think you’re not responsible, remember this is California and you need to protect yourself. Landlords will install granite countertops and expect an extra $200 in rent per month. The rental market doesn’t think that way. The only things you should consider are the durability of the improvement and whether it will help you collect a higher rent every month.
Some landlords will serve a Three Day Notice and hope it was served correctly. However, if you accept a partial payment after serving that Notice, the eviction process stops. You have to start all over again. We aren’t saying you shouldn’t take partial payments; you just need to know the ramifications.
These are some common mistakes. If you want to avoid them, please contact us at Bruce Croskey Real Estate, and we’d be happy to share our expertise with you.
Today we are talking about something we all hate to deal with, and that’s evictions. Our blog will provide an introduction to the topic. We aren’t attorneys, so I’m not giving you any legal advice, but we are sharing some tips on how to deal with tenants who need to be evicted.
When a tenant isn’t paying rent, you often find yourself with no choice but to evict. This is one of the most common reasons to evict someone. The other reason is Cure or Quit, when there is a lease violation that needs to be dealt with. You give the tenant time to make necessary corrections and if they don’t they get evicted. However, unpaid rent is always the most common reason for eviction.
Rent is due on the first of the month. If it doesn’t come in, there could be a five day grace period in the lease. When the grace period comes and goes, and late fee goes into effect and you don’t hear from your tenant, you probably start to get nervous about the nonpayment.
If you go online for information, you will probably read that the first step is to serve a Three Day Notice. So you Google it and find a blank form and then you post it on the property and you think you’ve served a valid Three Day Notice. Not necessarily. In California, there are strict requirements on what you have to do with a proper Three Day Notice. If you aren’t compliant, your eviction will be thrown out when you file in court. Don’t waste that time. Use a Three Day Notice that is valid in California and includes the proper wording.
A common thing that goes wrong is for landlords to include late fees and utilities that are owed. We understand you want all your money, but only the outstanding rent can go on a Three Day Notice. Put the rent owed and the date range for which it’s overdue. For example, you might say from December 1 to December 31, $1,400 is outstanding. There are other things required, but this mistake is usually the most common. Don’t tack on additional fees.
Next, you’re going to serve the Notice. Hiring a process server will make it easy but if you want to do it yourself, go to the property and knock on the door. If the tenant is home, hand-deliver the Three Day Notice and ask them to read it, then walk away. If someone other than the tenant answers, you need to make sure it’s a person who is over 18 and mentally capable. If the person seems capable of accepting the Notice, get the individual’s name and age and as much information as possible on this person. Document who received the Notice at the property. If no one answers, tape the Notice on the front door. You then need to mail a copy of the Notice to the tenant. We recommend you do it via certified mail with a return receipt. This is not legally required but again, the documentation helps. Fill out a proof of service. Once you have all that, if the tenant still doesn’t pay the overdue rent, go to court and start the Unlawful Detainer Process.
We suggest using a real estate attorney. California is very tenant-friendly, so as a landlord you need to use every resource available to make sure everything is perfect. We have qualified attorneys on retainer and we let the experts handle what they know best. With an eviction, you don’t want to waste time. You want to get the tenant out not because you’re a bad person, but because you’re in a business and you want to get paid for providing housing to your tenant.
This is a very general overview of a complicated process. If you have any questions about eviction, please contact us at Wolfgang Property Management. We often help landlords who have been managing properties by themselves and then don’t know what to do when the rent stops coming in. We can step in and help you out.
Today we’re talking about how to determine a fair price for your rental property. One disclaimer: renting to just anyone is not a good idea. Even if someone promises you more than what you were going to rent it for, or they want to pre-pay their rent 12 months in advance, you still want to make sure you have a quality tenant. No prepaid rent or higher amount is worth having a property that’s damaged. Evicting tenants will be time consuming and expensive, so regardless of the price you attach to the home, make sure you do your tenant screening and get a high quality tenant in your home.
Pricing and Vacancy
A property that is listed with a price that’s too high will result in a long vacancy. Whether you listed your property on the Internet or there’s just a sign in the yard, if you aren’t getting phone calls within the first seven days, you know something is wrong. More than likely, the home is overpriced. When you overprice by $100 or $200, the property will remain vacant for two or three months and you’ll lose whatever profit you were hoping to gain with that price anyway.
Instead of putting any price that you’re hoping to get on your property, you want to collect data to determine the proper price and get it rented quickly. This is where it’s an advantage to work with a professional property manager. We have real data at our disposal to determine the right price. Our rental portfolio of the properties we manage will tell us what homes in your area are renting for. That sampling will give you a gauge for what the market will pay. You can find out what the average price is for a two bedroom, three bedroom, a townhouse, a condo or even a large estate. A property manager has access to information that will demonstrate how to price your home.
As an independent landlord, you may not have access to that information. You can go to larger real estate websites that provide value estimates. Those are close, but not entirely accurate. Remember that even a $25 or $50 dollar difference will change how quickly you get the home rented.
If you have any questions, or you need help pricing your own rental property, please contact us at Wolfgang Property Management, and we’d be glad to offer assistance.
Today we’re talking about what you should expect to pay in Contra Costa County for property management services. There is a wide range of fees being charged by different companies. They are between four percent and 10 percent, generally. A landlord might be wondering about the difference, and it’s important to understand because your management fee is part of the expenses you pay to maintain your investment property.
Companies that charge a very low monthly management fee also have a lot of additional charges. You need to know what those additional fees are before you get excited about a low management fee. They might charge a fee to put a tenant in the property. This is often called a leasing fee or a placement fee. That might be 25 percent of a month’s rent, or 50 percent or even 100 percent of a month’s rent. Some companies will charge you six percent of a full year’s rent.
When you have a company with a low management fee, you should also look for mark ups on repairs and invoices against the property. They will add two percent to the invoice to cover supervising the improvements to your property.
Ask a property manager if they charge to serve Three Day Notices, if they charge for invoices, and if there is a fee to receive rent electronically. Some companies will charge a renewal fee. When a tenant’s lease expires, that tenant can leave, stay month to month or renew the lease. The process of renewal does take some work, so there might be a renewal fee. At Bruce Croskey, we do not charge a renewal fee. We are happy to have tenants who want to stay and we don’t like having tenant turnover.
Another fee you might come across is the startup fee. That is basically a payment to get your file started and all your systems in place. We don’t charge this fee at Bruce Croskey either.
Don’t confuse all these fees with your reserves. Reserves are in place to fund your trust account so there is money to take care of any problems you may have in the middle of the month. If something breaks between rent cycles, you want to know there are funds to cover the repair.
When you’re getting quotes for management services, make sure you know what is included and what will come with an extra charge. If you have questions, or you’d like to know more about our fee structure, please contact us at Wolfgang Property Management.
Our topic today is how to protect your rental home from tenant damage. Before we talk about tips and tricks, we want to give you one piece of advice that will really mitigate tenant damage: make sure you put a quality tenant inside your property.
Do your due diligence when you have an applicant. Verify income and employment. Run a credit check and a criminal background check. Talk to previous landlords. These things will help you ensure you’re putting the best possible tenant in your property. If you can do that, you’ll save yourself headaches later. This type of screening takes time and special tools, but if you screen applicants well, you’ll have good tenants.
You don’t want to charge a security deposit that’s too high, because you’ll scare off potentially great tenants. You also don’t want to charge too little because tenants won’t care about the money they might lose. If the security deposit on a $2,000 rental home is only $500, tenants aren’t going to care about the damage they might do. Match the security deposit to the rent. In California, you can charge up to two times the monthly rent for a security deposit on an unfurnished property. On a furnished property, you can collect up to three times the monthly rent. We recommend that you collect a security deposit that matches one month’s rent or one and a half month’s rent. These are acceptable amounts for good tenants.
After you have collected the deposit, do a move in inspection and take lots of pictures. If you have to do an eviction and you show up to court with pictures of the property, you’ll be able to show damage. Be detailed in your pictures; show the inside of the dishwasher and inside the oven and the fridge. Take pictures of the door jams. It’s amazing how many doors get kicked in on a rental.
We don’t want to inconvenience our tenants, but we want to make sure they’re taking care of the property. Therefore, we inspect every six months. It’s an opportunity to look at the smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries. We make sure there are no leaks under sink, and we take a look at how the property is being cared for. At the end of the lease, you have another opportunity to do an inspection and decide if you want to renew with your tenants or let them go.
This might sound like an additional expense but we see it as an investment. What we call a simple mow and blow service will cost you between $50 and $75 per month. It allows someone to be in the front and back yards twice a month, looking for things. We have trained people taking care of our yards to look for red flags that might concern us. When you have eyes on the property as much as possible, you mitigate the risk of tenant damage.
If you’d like to hear more information about protecting your property, please contact us at Wolfgang Property Management.