Landlord considerations and best practices in California

On Behalf of | Apr 30, 2024 | Real Estate

Being a landlord can lead to significant income for an individual but can also saddle someone with numerous personal responsibilities. Landlords should receive monthly rent payments from their tenants, but they have to absorb maintenance and repair costs at the property.

They may also need to engage in collection efforts when tenants fail to pay their rent on time or evict those who don’t comply with the lease. Someone who has just acquired a property they intend to rent or who plans to do so in the near future may want to learn more about best practices and landlord obligations to better comply with California law.

Pre-rental obligations

Landlords have a responsibility to maintain residential properties in appropriate condition. They can be liable for issues ranging from lead poisoning to mold-related illnesses. Therefore, inspecting, cleaning and maintaining residential properties is a key component of a landlord’s responsibilities. They also need to be honest when listing the property and careful when screening prospective tenants. Performing background checks can help landlords identify problem tenants and protect themselves against significant financial losses due to unpaid rent or property damage.

While negotiating a lease

Landlords cannot factor in protected characteristics when deciding who to rent to or how much to charge in rent. A tenant’s race or religion should not factor into their eligibility for a property. Their medical conditions are also illegal to consider. Landlords have an obligation to accommodate those with disabilities. That process may include making changes to a property or accessibility or allowing certain types of service animals without additional fees.

During a tenancy

Landlords must respond promptly to requests for repairs and maintenance from tenants. If the landlord must access the rental space, they typically need to provide advance notice in compliance with state law and the terms of a lease. Should a tenant violate the lease by having unapproved animals, extended-stay guests or wild parties, landlords may need to promptly notify them of lease violations. Professional and prompt communication can diminish conflict and can help landlords enforce the terms of a residential lease.

After the end of a lease

Once a tenant ends their time at a property, the landlord needs to secure the property appropriately. They then need to communicate with the tenant about any damage that may warrant the retention of part or all of the security deposit. Providing a thorough inventory of damages and repair costs is necessary for a security deposit claim. Landlords must also promptly return the remaining balance of the security deposit in order to comply with state statutes.

Small mistakes, such as expressing a preference for certain types of tenants in a listing, can lead to lawsuits and unnecessary expenses for California landlords. Learning more about the rules that apply to landlord-tenant relationships may benefit those seeking to monetize a residential property accordingly.