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Things Every Landlord Should Know

The purpose of this is to share information with you, with respect to laws, codes and the way Dalmon Property Management does business. Should you have any questions after reading it through, do not hesitate to ask.

 

Required

It is common that new clients ask what is necessary to have their property ready to lease. These are required:

          1.     Four keys for all locks; preferably, every lock is keyed the same. Locks must be re-keyed between tenants, but it is not necessary to do so if you, the homeowner, resided there previously.

          2.     No double-bolt cylinders, no keyed locks on bedroom or bathroom doors.

          3.     Smoke alarms are now required to have a 10-year non-removable battery. All existing smoke alarms will need to be replaced. There must be one smoke alarm in each bedroom, one in each hallway outside the bedrooms, and one on each level of the property. Do not install a smoke alarm within 10 feet of the kitchen.

          4.     Carbon monoxide alarms are now required, on each level of the property.

          5.     Any potentially dangerous situation must be remediated, such as broken windows or protruding nails.

          6.     Tripping hazards must be remediated, such as cracked concrete.

          7.     Furnace filter, dryer vent and chimney must all be cleaned.

          8.     Property must be clean. Tenants are required to return the property in the same or better condition, so it is required that a Tenant is presented with a clean property. Carpets must be professionally cleaned, using truck-mounted equipment.

          9.     Remove ALL personal possessions such as ladders, gardening equipment, tools, etc. A Tenant who injures himself on your lawn mower can sue you.

          10.  Metal braided water supply hoses on toilets, refrigerator and washing machine.

          11.  Metal vent on dryer.

          12.  Replace loose-fitting electrical sockets.

          13.  Clean interior paint, with an absolute minimum of nail holes or scuff marks.

 

Recommended

It is common that new clients ask what is necessary to have their property ready to lease. These are recommended:

          1.     Yards should be in the condition to which you want them maintained. If your yards are very nice, we strongly encourage including a gardener in the lease.

          2.     Clean gutters, particularly in the Fall or Winter.

          3.     Change batteries in thermostat and garage remotes.

          4.     All windows should have coverings.

          5.     All window screens should be in place and in good condition.

          6.     Periodic maintenance: service furnace every two years, have roof inspected every five years, re-stain decks every three to five years, etc.


Automatic Maintenance

          1.     Gutters will be cleaned annually on all properties, unless the HOA is responsible for it.

          2.     Dryer vents and chimneys will be cleaned every two years.

          3.     Clear-cutting will be done annually, as necessary, based on the property type.

 

Codes

          1.     Smoke Alarms:  Current code specifies new smoke alarms. These new smoke alarms have a 10-year non-removable battery. This prevents a tenant from removing a battery, thereby endangering their safety and your investment. Effective July 1, 2014, new alarms will be installed during a property turnover. ALL properties must have new alarms as of January 1, 2016.

          2.     Carbon Monoxide Alarms:  Current code requires carbon monoxide alarms in all rental properties.  Alarms are placed on each level of the home, typically in the hall where the bedrooms are, and a logical place on other levels.

 

Laws

What can we say? Laws change constantly, and new laws are constantly being put into effect. In the State of California, real estate law leans heavily toward protecting tenants, presumably due to “slum-lord” activity. We protect landlords to the best of our ability, by having clear, easy-to-understand leases and addendums.

 

Guidelines

          1.     Fair Housing guidelines allow two people per bedroom, plus one person. This translates into the possibility of renting a three bedroom property to seven people. That’s the way it is, there is no getting around it.

          2.     Service Animals/Companion Animals: these animals go by many names and are not considered “pets”. Provided that the applicant can show a valid medical need (physical, psychological, emotional), a landlord MUST allow the animal, even if pets are otherwise not permitted. We cannot ask for additional security deposit, however we can still hold the tenant responsible for any damage caused by the animal.

          3.     Paint: Paint in a rental unit has a life span of 2 years; unless egregious, we cannot necessarily charge a departing Tenant for touch-up paint. The guideline says after one year, we can charge 50%, and after two years, nothing. This is considered normal wear and tear.

          4.     Carpet replacement: Carpet in a rental unit has a life span of 7-10 years depending on the quality of the carpet. If a Tenant significantly damages carpet, we can only charge a pro-rated share of the cost to repair or replace the damaged carpet, depending on the age of the carpet and the remaining life span.

Business Processes

Maintenance: We use our own vendors. Our vendors are licensed and insured, and, for the most part, have been with us for years. When a tenant calls for maintenance, we will dispatch a vendor. The invoice is paid out of our office and will reflect on your monthly statement. Our Management Agreement allows us to spend up to $500.00 on a single maintenance item without Owner approval. However, if an invoice comes in and is more than $200.00, we will make every effort to advise you so that you are not blind-sided when you read your statement. If it is determined that the maintenance was required due to tenant negligence or cause, the tenant will be charged for the service call.

Lease Term: We initially write a one-year lease with new tenants. We will never write a multiple year lease at the beginning, however if an existing tenant wants one, and you agree, we will do so. What happens when the lease term ends? In the State of California, if nothing is done when a lease period ends, it automatically converts to a month-to-month agreement, with all lease terms and conditions remaining in effect. Should a Tenant or Owner want a new lease, we will facilitate that if everyone is in agreement.

Rent Increases:  While we evaluate properties periodically for possible rent increases, we do not automatically raise the rent every year. Our recommendation is that the first increase happens at the end of the second year, if at all. Please consider the history of the Tenant and how well the property is being cared for, while you are also considering the market rents and the availability of possibly less expensive rentals. We don’t want to risk losing a great tenant just because you want a little more money.

Home Warranties: If a homeowner maintains a home warranty, it is the tenant’s responsibility to call for covered repairs. The tenant will pay the service fee, then submit the receipt to us for reimbursement from the homeowner’s account.

 

Please note that this document is not static and is not intended to be all-inclusive, but merely additional information for your consideration.