There are several reasons your tenants might be evicted. They may be damaging the property, or not complying with the terms of the contract. They might not be paying rent, and they may not have moved after being given appropriate notice to move. In these cases, you need to go to the courts for relief. Before you do that, look at your paperwork. Check your lease and rent roster, and make sure you have everything together. During the process, if the matter goes to court, you will be challenged and perhaps become a defendant at one point in the trial. Hopefully, you have done everything right. If you haven’t, be sure to get the details correct before you proceed with eviction.
Serve a Three Day Notice
Evictions start with a Three Day Notice. If you serve it on one day, start counting the three days on the following day. Weekends and holidays don’t count. The form has to be correctly filled out. Then, you can proceed to trial. Your attorney will provide a Summons and Complaint, and hire a process server to serve the tenant. If the process server can get personal service, the tenant will only have five days to answer. If they don’t get personal service, the tenants get 15 days to answer. Chances are, they will dodge the process server, so plan on 15 days. After that time is up, your attorney will press the courts for a trial date. Don’t be surprised if the tenant demands a jury trial or if they come up with an attorney, whose services are paid for by the public.
Trial and Judgment
Before the trial, the tenant may file for bankruptcy. That should not delay you too much. Your attorney can file a Relief of Stay with the federal court, and you’ll be able to proceed with the eviction. It may add a little more time, but you will be able to proceed.
Before the trial, you’ll need to try and negotiate settlements. Once you get the judgment, then it’s turned over to the sheriff. The sheriff sets a date and you have to meet him at the house, probably with a locksmith. The sheriff will knock, and if someone answers, they’ll proceed. If no one answers, they’ll expect you to open the door. Your key might not work, so have that locksmith with you.
At this time, the tenants are told to leave the property if they have not moved out already. Hopefully, if they moved out, they took all their property. If they haven’t, you must inventory and store it for the appropriate length of time. They have the right to return, pay a storage fee, and get their items. If they don’t come back, you’ll need to have a public auction.
That’s the basic path to eviction. You can serve the Three Day Notice on your own, or if you have a property manager – they will serve it for you. Try serving it at home and at work. Someone else at the house who is an adult can also be served, you’ll just need to mail a copy to the tenant as well. If you don’t get to do it personally, tape the notice to the front of the door and mail it to the tenants via first class mail. Don’t send it certified; the law requires you send it first class. Keep copies for yourself and your attorney; you’ll need to bring this notice to trial.
Hopefully, you will never have to go through this. It’s why you do rigorous screenings of applicants before they become tenants. Use real care in creating your documents. The lease and any violations of the lease need to be in order.
Frequently, people call up about a particular home, and they want to know how many people they can have live there. You’d think they’d be interested in finding a home for the number of people they have, but maybe that number is flexible, and they’ll add people if they can. Today, we are talking about occupancy standards and housing discrimination.
Occupancy Standards and The Keating Memo
There is no clear standard or law that says how many people you can put in a house. However, there are some guidelines. Years ago, HUD put out a memo called the Keating memo. In this memo, the standard is two people per bedroom, plus one. But, that’s not an ironclad rule. You have to have at least 120 square feet for the unit, and a bedroom has to be 70 square feet. For an additional person, you’ll need an additional 50 feet. So, two people would need would need 120 square feet, with 50 more square feet for a third person. You also need to consider the age of children. Smaller children can occupy a smaller space. Remember that you cannot discriminate against children. That will get you in trouble quickly.
Property Size and Systems
The configuration of the house will also affect how many people can live there. The property may have physical limits. If you’re on a septic system and you’ve had problems in the past with larger groups of people living in your property, you may have to reduce the number of people who live there until you can rebuild the septic system.
Fair Housing: Watch What You Say
One additional item that can easily get you into trouble as a landlord is what you might say out loud. Don’t tell prospective tenants that you won’t rent to families with children. It’s illegal to discriminate against married people. So, consider this when you’re renting out your property. Spouses and kids come with extra considerations.
Understand State and Local Laws
State and local laws may have a bearing on how many people can live in your house. In Livermore, this is not a factor. State fair housing laws, however, are always a factor, and you should also pay attention to court cases. People will try to rent smaller, lower cost homes and then put more people in there. That can contribute to more wear on your property.
Come up with fair, consistent occupancy standards. Know that if you’re challenged, a judge will decide whether you’re right. Hopefully, you will never find yourself in that situation.
There will be the miscellaneous repairs that happen at random times. The sewer plugs up, the garbage disposal goes out, or the hot water heater leaks. Those things are random, and you never know when they’ll occur. The older the property, the more likely these types of issues become.
There are some repairs that can be delayed a bit. This includes painting the outside of the house, or painting the inside and replacing worn or damaged carpets. Some of these repairs are things to take care of during a turnover. If money is tight or you don’t have professional property management in Livermore, you can put these things off. However, the longer you wait, the more costly the effect. People will not want to rent the house because it doesn’t look good. Cosmetic repairs, while important to keep up with, are not in the same category as water faucets that won’t shut off.
Modernizing and Updating
The third repair category is modernization. If you don’t keep your house up to date, it won’t rent at the same rate as houses that are up to date. For example, you need to consider that at some stage, you should replace your old single pane windows with double pane windows. This brings them up to standards that are more weather resistant and insulated. People do notice these details. Some kitchen cabinets and counters are completely worn out. This type of thing can be delayed indefinitely, but there’s a real cost to not putting in modern touches. You won’t get as much rent because the house doesn’t show as well. And, if you decide to sell, you won’t get top dollar for the property.
Frequently, when an investor goes to make an initial rental home purchase, they look for a lower cost home. That is typically a condo in a homeowner’s association, which we call an HOA. If you’re going to buy in an HOA, you need to be aware of
the positives and negatives.
The positive thing is that there’s a board which oversees the association and makes sure everyone complies with all the rules.
The negative thing is that there’s a board which oversees the association and makes sure everyone complies with all the rules.
Things to Consider with HOAs
Sometimes, there’s an Emperor within the HOA who likes to lord over everyone. Before you purchase and you’ve looked at the cost, read all the documents that go with this association. You’ll want to check the CC&Rs, the bylaws, their policies, and any rules they have. Look at the association’s financial condition, too. You need to know how much power you’re giving these people, and it’s usually a whole lot of power. They can levy fines on your property and they even can sell your property. You may think you own your property, and you don’t want to find out that someone else owns it after you sell it. That’s a lot of power within the HOA.
Property Management in Livermore: HOA Finances
You also need to check an association’s financial condition. Some associations charge a lot and they don’t give you much in the way of improvements for the area. Other associations have lower fees and better facilities. Measure the community management services included with your HOA fees. You can always become a member of the board and help determine how that money is spent.
HOA Rules and Fines
Frequently, the HOA will send out a notice or hit people with violations because they don’t like their grass or trees or paint on the front door. You need to know the rules, and you can’t ignore them. The HOA does have the power to levy fines and sell your property. The best course of action if you do buy a home in an HOA is to go ahead and comply the best you can. Pay up for any fines they bring against you, and then protest those fines. You can hire an attorney and fight in court if you feel it’s appropriate. However, the courts give a lot of deference to the HOA and so a lot of lawsuits are just not successful.
Buying in an HOA can be a good investment but it can also be a nightmare. Be careful with these communities. If you have any questions about Livermore property management, please contact us at AVR Properties.
We’re talking about secrets.
It’s not a mystery to you that some people might lie to get into a rental house, or lie about their tenancy in a previous rental house. Jeffrey Taylor of Mr. Landlord has reported that almost half of all residents are hiding something. They just don’t want their landlord to know some things.
The number one thing they hide is an extra resident. They may have someone who can’t qualify, so they don’t put them on the application and then move them in after the lease is signed. You might not discover that someone else is living in your rental property in Livermore until after the house is rented. We put everyone’s name on the lease so we know who is there. Also, on the application, we collect information on automobile identification. So, if we see different cars and other activity there, we can pin it down. According to that same report, 40 percent of tenants do fib about extra residents.
Another high percentage of tenants don’t tell the truth about unpaid bills. In Livermore, that can hurt a landlord because if tenants don’t pay their trash bill, the city can put a lien on the owner of the property to try and collect.
The other item that the tenants will try to conceal is property damage. If they break something, they don’t want to tell you that they broke it. They will try to say it was that way when they moved in, or they don’t know how it happened but it wasn’t their fault. If the glass top on the stove breaks, it’s not because they were trying to reach a high cabinet – it just broke. Or, windows will just shatter and screens will tear and no one will know how. They will try to conceal these things when they move out so you don’t see it. If a blind is damaged, it might be taken down so you don’t notice.
A lot of owners don’t want pets in their homes, so a number of applicants will lie about having pets. They’ll say they don’t have them or they have one now but they are giving it to another home. Or, when they moved in they didn’t have a pet, but then they want a pet later. They won’t let you know because they are afraid there will be a consequence – which is true. However, we have in our contract which pets are allowed. If a tenant tries to get a pet without notifying us, rent can increase as much as 10 percent. The latest fad is also to say pets are service animals. There are healthcare providers who will certify a need for a service animal for $125 and a brief phone consultation. Some people will pay to get a certification of a service animal, and there’s a harness for the dog and everything. That doesn’t wash. You really have to have a true medical need for it that’s verifiable. So, most people don’t get away with it. If a tenant has a service animal, you can’t charge an extra deposit. But if it’s a pet, you can.
Redecorating the Property
Tenants might also redecorate without permission. They will repaint a room or take down curtains or do other things. In some cases, they will remove a doorway or make some other modification without permission from the landlord. When it’s time to move out, they don’t want to face the music, so they don’t say anything.
In this business, you need to learn that there are secrets. You have to develop ways to discover the truth and deal with any lease violations. If you need any help dealing with these things, please contact us at AVR Properties. We provide Livermore property management, and we’d be happy to answer your questions
Just when you think they can’t come up with another protected class, the federal government has done it again. The last protected class we told you about was convicted felons who served their time, and it’s illegal to discriminate against them. Now, there’s a new class of people against whom you cannot discriminate when it comes to Livermore rental property.
Potential Tenants with Limited English Proficiency
The new term you need to be aware of is LEP, which stands for Limited English Proficiency. If you turn someone down because they are speaking a different language and don’t speak English very well, you are at risk of being prosecuted for discrimination by the federal government. You’re probably already familiar with the fair housing laws in Livermore, and now you need to be aware of this rule as well.
Using Reasonable Translations
If there is any reasonable translation available, you’re required to use it. In California, if you communicate in another language such as Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, or Tagalog, you are required to provide all the documents for your rental properties in that same language. Some people might not want to try and speak a foreign language in their offices because they don’t have the ability to do all the foreign language contracts. But the federal government says that’s no excuse, and they will frown upon landlords who use that as a reason for not negotiating with the LEP people.
Property Management Livermore
At AVR Properties, we do have a fairly good mastery of English, and we don’t know any other languages. So, if someone is coming in with a different language, we ask them to bring a translator who is an adult and can translate appropriately, read the contracts, which are in English, and answer any questions. If they still don’t understand, we will work with the translator in trying to come up with a complete understanding of what we expect and what they should expect from us.
So the new discrimination class is LEP, and you need to prepare for that as a landlord.
I wonder what they’ll come up with next.
Most people realize that insurance is important, but you may not realize the type of insurance you need as a landlord or the amount that’s required. Today, we are talking about rental property insurance in Livermore.
Switching from Homeowner’s Insurance to Landlord Insurance
A lot of people have lived in a home and have homeowner’s insurance on the property, but they don’t think of changing it when they begin renting that property out. A homeowner’s insurance policy covers a little liability but it also insures your contents, such as clothing and appliances. It’s not the appropriate insurance for a landlord. Your insurance company can provide a landlord policy, which will probably cost around the same as your homeowner’s insurance. This type of policy does not cover the belongings inside the house because those things belong to the tenants and they need to insure their own items. You do get a lot more liability coverage, which is extremely important. You need to insure the value of your house so if there’s a major loss, it’s covered. Some people buy earthquake insurance, and others don’t. In the valley, not too many people have flood insurance, but there are some areas where it might be appropriate. You need to be insured to the point that you can sleep well at night.
Extra Liability Coverage
In addition to your normal insurance policy, we recommend an umbrella policy which provides excess liability coverage of $1 million. This doesn’t cost very much, probably less than $400 a year, and it can cover you if something catastrophic happens.
Property Management Livermore: Additional Insured
Naming the property manager as an additional insured is often overlooked but important. You’re not insuring your property manager; we insure ourselves. You’re simply insuring your home. However, any legal action involving your property will likely involve your property manager. With insurance, you’ll be taken care of. Without insurance, legal costs could include a $5,000 retainer and other fees that will mount up. As the owner of the property, you’d be responsible for those legal fees. So, making sure your insurance covers your property manager is important. You can also get reimbursed for eviction expenses and bed bug remediation. You can have your appliances covered so if they break, they’re repaired or replaced. If your service line for water fails, some policies will cover that. Some cover sewage drains. Some policies also have coverage for extended loss of rental income and cover fair housing claims.
You need to have the basic insurance and you need to have your property manager named as an additional insured on those policies.
In Livermore property management, there are some dates that are more important than others. For example, 1978 is a big year. That’s important because if your home was constructed earlier than that, it is presumed to have lead-based paint. It was made illegal, so any houses built after 1978 are presumed not to have lead based paint. Lead is toxic, especially to young children. You can get lead poisoning not just from paint chips, but also from breathing in the dust when it oxidizes. It might get into your yard and garden as well. So it is potentially hazardous, and most landlords will make sure the house is well-painted so it’s sealed and not a problem.
Disclosures about Lead-Based Paint
You are required to disclose what you know about lead-based paint and provide a booklet that the EPA has free online at www.epa.gov. If you don’t, the damages can be three times the actual damage amount plus attorney fees and court costs. You’re not expected to know if there is lead-based paint, but if you do know that it’s there or that tests have been conducted, you do have to disclose that. The booklet is provided to your tenants and sellers also have to provide this to buyers.
Property Management Livermore: California Occupancy Standards
In California, a landlord is required to put their home in a condition fit for occupation and repair any dilapidations that render it untenable. So if you have a home that had lead-based paint and it is not sealed, and there are chips showing, you might find yourself running afoul of the civil code. That’s not a good thing to do. If you hire someone to take care of renovations in your house, if it’s occupied and more than six square feet are disturbed inside or 20 square feet outside, they must be certified to work with lead by the government. There’s a special class they take and precautions that are required. Otherwise, there are substantial financial penalties. Six square feet in an older home is not a lot; some of the baseboards are almost a foot high, so just taking off a baseboard can qualify as disturbing six square feet.
This is just one of the factors that you need to consider as an investor or landlord. When you’re purchasing a home for rent, make sure you understand the lead situation.
If you have any questions about your rental property in Livermore, please contact us at AVR Properties.
When you own a rental property in Livermore, you quickly realize that there is no single source of regulations. Every agency and every government level seems to want to get into a portion of your business.
Property Management Laws and Regulations
Cities, counties, state, and federal organizations all have their own regulations, and there are also organizations created by counties such as the Bay Area Air Quality Management District. All of these agencies seem to have lots of people writing lots and lots of regulations. So you come up with the Code of Civil Procedures, health and safety codes, fire codes, etc. You are expected to comply with all of them. Even if you feel you’re in full compliance, you may not be.
There’s an item in recent years called Disparate Impact, which landlords and Livermore property management companies need to be aware of. That’s where an action you take has an effect on one of the protected classes. You didn’t set out to violate their civil rights, but statistically they can prove you did so. The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determined the newest likelihood of Disparate Impact can occur with the use of felony conviction records to deny people housing. So, if you’re asking on your application if a person was convicted of a felony and they answer yes, you could be breaking the law if you deny them the property solely based on that answer.
You might wonder how they come up with this. It turns out the government incarcerates more minorities than they do majorities, so if you’re using their convictions against them, there are more minorities that will be affected. So, you can still screen felons based upon your rental criteria, but whether they are convicted of a felony should not be a deciding factor. If you use that as a deciding factor, the government can fine you. Some property management companies have been fined substantially for this. So, carefully review your application criteria and use only those things germane to that person and your criteria.
If you have any questions about Disparate Impact or property management in Livermore, please contact us at AVR Properties, and we’d be happy to tell you more.
Recently, the state of California has enacted laws that legalize marijuana in private homes. People can use it there and they can legally grow up to six plants. It has to be in an enclosed space so the outside public cannot see that it’s growing. Many landlords are asking us how this impacts their Livermore rental property, so today we are talking about the legalization of marijuana in California.
Cover Marijuana in Your Contract
All of your concerns as an owner are easily handled by making sure your contract deals with this issue. In your lease contract, you can ban smoking, which includes marijuana. That will prevent your property getting the smoke residue on the inside structure of your home. You can also ban the growing of marijuana so you don’t have to deal with the moisture problems of water that’s used with indoor agriculture. By prohibiting the growth of marijuana in your property, you also won’t have to deal with the electrical equipment that they’ll need to put in to have grow lights. Plus, you won’t have people breaking in to try and steal the marijuana.
Federal Marijuana Laws
Cover this in your lease and make sure you are treating all your tenants equally. If a tenant or a prospective tenant has medicinal marijuana, you can still prohibit that as well, as long as you cover it in your contract. It remains to be seen how the courts will deal with this new marijuana law, and we’ll be watching court cases and changes carefully. Remember that marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. As long as you include terminology in your contract, you will be covered. We’ll update you when we know how the courts will move forward with this.
There are a number of ways to make money off of rental homes, and a Livermore property manager can help you maximize your return. Most people are familiar with appreciation, which is when the value of your property goes up because the market goes up. When new homes are selling for more and used homes are selling for more, then the eventual sale of your rental home brings you more money. The potential for profit is there, but you don’t control appreciation. It depends on economy and the market. There are three other factors to consider when you’re calculating how to increase the ROI on your investment.
Cash flow describes the money coming, which you use to cover your expenses. Hopefully, you will earn enough that you still have some money left over every month. This is determined depending on the type of loan you have, the terms of that loan, the amount you borrow, and the rent that you earn from your property. These things are within your control. If you’re turning your own home into a rental, your loan is already determined. So look at your cash flow and ensure you aren’t negative.
Equity Build Up
Every month, your tenant helps pay your house off. You owe less on the property and own more of it. This is a great source of income. You don’t get that income right away because it’s built into the value of the house. When you sell it, you owe a lot less on it, or you own nothing at all, and you own it outright. That brings you extra income at the time of the sale.
Depreciate Rental Home
Depreciation for a single family home is over 27.5 years. You don’t depreciate the land. You only depreciate the improvements to the property. But that’s a substantial amount each year and you can take it off the revenue you earn when you’re doing your taxes. That depreciation counts as a loss.
As an investor, you can earn money through appreciation, cash flow, equity build up, and depreciation. This gives you a dynamite package and allows you to make money in real estate.
If you have any questions about rental property in Livermore, California, please contact us at AVR Properties, and we’d be happy to help you.
To avoid fraud and frustration, you need to be careful when you have your own home listed for rent. Today, we’re talking about some situations that landlords can find themselves in, and what to do if you’re the victim of fraud.
Fraud Before and During a Tenancy
Most of you are probably aware that people will lie and say they don’t smoke when they do. Or, they have a pet and they said they didn’t. You have to check the backgrounds of your applicants carefully to make sure you know who they really are. This will help you keep fraud to a minimum and even totally eliminate it. Other types of fraud can affect you during the tenancy. Your renters can add more occupants after moving in, and that’s going to cause additional wear on your property. But that type of fraud is easy to deal with.
Fraud and Vacant Properties
While you have a house for rent, people will look for ways to make money off your vacant house. One way they do that is by advertising your house as their own for a lot less rent than you are asking. Then they will send out applications to people who contact them and encourage these people to drive by the home. They’ll tell a story about being from out of town and unable to meet there to show the home in person. They will collect money from those potential tenants and tell them it’s okay to move in. They might even send a locksmith over to the house to let them in, and when you get to your own property, you’ll see that there are occupants in it that you did not authorize. You want to guard against this.
Avoid Handing Over Your House Keys
You also have to be careful about people getting into your house and pretending they live there. You might give someone a key and tell them to go take a look at the property. When you don’t get that key back and you go to the property, you could find those people in the house pretending to live there. Calling the police is a good idea in a situation like this, but those individuals will claim they live at the house, and it will be a time consuming process to get them out. You should take all necessary steps to prevent this from happening. For example, never hand out the key to your property to someone you don’t know and haven’t screened.
Protect Against Break-Ins
People can also break into a house. You might catch them inside of the property or notice that things have been taken. You’ll call the police or make a citizen’s arrest and the police can write a citation. However, in Alameda County, the district attorney never prosecutes these cases. So you’ll get the criminals out of your house and charge them with a break in, but that may be as far as it goes.
As a landlord, stay on top of these factors so you don’t have problems that become horror stories. We often have property owners begging us for help when something like this happens. We are always able to help, but avoiding these situations is much better.
If you have any questions, please contact us at AVR Properties.
At AVR Properties, we provide property management for rental properties in Livermore, California and the surrounding areas. Our focus is on single family homes and duplexes; we don’t work with apartment buildings or commercial rentals.
Livermore Property Management
While telling you about the benefits of working with AVR Properties, we are outside of the Carnegie building here in downtown Livermore. It’s the home of the Historical Society as well as the Livermore Arts Association. Admission is free, and this part of town demonstrates why investing in Livermore is such a great idea. The quality of life is outstanding, and there are excellent opportunities for investment, as well as a large pool of qualified tenants.
Experience and Knowledge
We have been in business for over three decades managing rental homes. We invest our time and resources taking care of properties, preserving the value of your investment, and maximizing the return you earn on that investment. We do know the laws, including landlord tenant laws, housing regulations, and everything that’s necessary and appropriate for successfully managing a rental property. As a team, we are constantly educating ourselves and becoming up to date on any changes in the law or in property management best practices.
Transparent Fee Structure
When you work with AVR Properties, you don’t have to worry about confusing expenses or paying for extra services. Our fee structure is easy to understand, and our services are all inclusive. We don’t have extra charges that you might find with other Livermore property management companies. There is no charge for finding you a qualified tenant. We don’t add service charges when your home needs repair work or maintenance. In fact, if you’re not getting paid, we’re not getting paid.
If you have any questions about the property management services we provide, please contact us at AVR Properties. We’d be happy to talk to you about rental properties in Livermore.
Frequently when an owner comes in to interview our property management company, they will ask how we process the applications. It’s an important question, and you want to make sure that your property manager is doing a thorough job of screening tenants.
Collect a Completed Application
We begin the screening process by requiring that anyone interested in one of our properties fill out a complete application. We ask a few important questions; such as do you smoke? None of our properties allow smoking. We also ask if the applicant has pets. Some of our properties are not pet friendly, so we want to make sure we can place the tenant in the home that he or she wants.
Check Employment and Landlord References
Our application also asks where the applicant lives now and where they work. We ask for contact information for the current landlord or property manager, as well as the previous landlord or manager. It’s important to verify the tenancy and the employer. Then, you have to take some extra steps and make sure you were talking to the right people. There is a lot of fraud out there, and you want to make sure you’re talking with real landlords and employers, and not just friends of the applicant. If there’s a spot on an application that isn’t completed, there’s probably a reason that applicant doesn’t want you to know something. Dishonest applicants might forget prior tenancies or give you incorrect dates.
Separate Good Prospective Tenants from Bad
Once you have taken the time to thoroughly process your application, you will know whether you have a good prospect who has the potential to be a good tenant, and not a tenant from hell. We’ll talk more about tenants from hell in a future blog. A good screening process will ensure you aren’t stuck with bad tenants who cause problems.
If you have any questions about tenant screening and how to evaluate applications, please contact us at AVR Properties.
- Property Management Blog
- Investment Property in an HOA
- What if My Livermore Rental Property Has Lead-Based Paint?
- What is Disparate Impact and How Does it Affect Me as a Rental Property Owner
- How Legalization of Marijuana Affects Rental Property Owners
- Rental Property ROI
- Avoiding Rental Fraud
- The Eviction Process in Livermore – Expert Advice from a Property Manager
- Occupancy & Fair Housing Laws Landlords in Livermore Must Know
- Rental Properties Repairs and Maintenance | What Alameda County Landlords and Owners Need to Know
- Important Information about Purchasing Investment Property in an HOA | Livermore Property Management Advice
- What You Need to Know About Tenants – Livermore Property Management Tips for Landlords
- Ken Bradley
- ken Bradley