Real estate can be used for its investment value including, but not limited to, apartment buildings, offices or shopping centers. For property owners it is often necessary to hire a property manager to supervise the operation since it can be tedious and may often be located in a different city. The property manager has duties including: accounting, maintenance, equipment, accepting rent, and responding to any other issues. A property manager may be a licensed real estate salesperson, but generally they must be working under a licensed real estate broker. They act as a buffer between property owners and tenants. Should any issues arise the property manager will more than likely bring them to the attention of the property owners in an attempt to remedy the issue but some issues can be easily resolved without the owner’s involvement.
Screening prospective tenants is an important thing a landlord can do to protect their investment and to also prevent any unnecessary problems. One of the first things to do is have them fill out a rental application. Be sure to get full names, copy of their driver’s license/identification card, social security numbers, and employment history with a recent check stub. A small fee should be charged to cover the expense of pulling their credit report, which can now be done easily on various websites. Getting a credit report will determine if the prospective tenant has been good about paying their bills and their debt to income ratio is not too high. If they have met your criteria it may be reasonable to think they will be able to pay you the amount agreed for the duration of the lease. If they have not been responsible in the past it may be a risk to assume they will pay you and will either require you to choose the next applicant or require a cosigner for the current applicant. Next it is crucial to get fairly recent references. If possible get numbers to old landlords and speak with them. This will be a good way to see their rental history or learn of any issues in the past. At this point you may want to schedule an appointment with the prospective tenant to explain your expectations of them. This will provide a way to see how they react to those expectations. Also, it invites questions from both sides to clarify any ambiguity. Once terms have been agreed on, it is time to sign a lease agreement.
A lease agreement must comply with state and local laws. Depending on the area, lease agreements may have some differences. It may be a good idea to have an attorney review your lease to make sure it is compliant with local and state laws as well as enforceable in court. The lease will all have some major components such as: name of tenants, lease term, payment of rent, deposit, fees, user responsibilities, pet clause, security deposit clause, and access to premises. The lease will also include information on what will happen if the tenant is late on a payment or if they refuse to pay.
In California the eviction process is complicated and sometimes costly. The eviction process begins with a 3-Day Notice to Pay or Quit, 30-Day Notice to Vacate, or 60-Day Notice to Vacate. If the tenant doesn’t move out by the specified times, the landlord may file an unlawful detainer. In an unlawful detainer, the landlord is the plaintiff and the tenant is the defendant. Usually within 1 to 10 days the tenant is served with summons papers. At this point it may be a good idea for the tenant to seek legal advice. The legal process is very complicated and lengthy. In the end the court could rule in favor of the tenant. In which case, the tenant may continue to reside in the rental unit and the courts may award the tenant his legal fees as well as damages. The court could also rule in favor of the landlord. In this case, the court orders a “writ of possession” and awards the landlord legal fees and unpaid rent. The court clerk will issue the order to the Sheriff. Within 1 to 3 days a peace officer will deliver a 5 days’ notice to vacate the property or be evicted. If the tenants do not comply the peace officer will physically remove the tenants and return the property to the landlord’s possession. Although the eviction process rarely occurs, it is best to understand how to handle the process.
California Eviction Guide For Tenants and Landlords
Prepared By: Melissa C. Marsh, Los Angeles Landlord-Tenant Attorney
Basic Components of a Residential Lease Agreement
By Stirling Gardner Platinum Quality Author
Lopez, Carrie. "A Guide to Residential Tenants’ and Landlords’ ." July 2006. California department of consumer affairs, Web. 18 Oct 2009.
Portman, Janet, Marcia Stewart, and David Brown.Every Landlord's Legal Guide. 9. nolo.com, 2008. Print.
Mike Kremko, Mark Silva, and Daniel Fiero
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