Five Tips Landlords Should Know

Oakland Business Attorney Offers Advice

Being a landlord can have its benefits, but it can also be a trap for the unwary. Failure to know your rights and responsibilities as a landlord can be costly, both in time and money. Here are a few tips to protect yourself and your rental business.

1. Have A Written Lease Or Rental Agreement

While a written agreement is not a legal requirement for a residential or commercial tenancy, it is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself as a landlord. Whether the tenancy is for a set term (e.g. one year, six months, etc.) or a month-to-month tenancy, a written lease or rental agreement makes clear not only the tenant’s rights and obligations, but also the landlord’s. California does not have a standard form lease or rental agreement, but at a minimum, a written lease or rental agreement should include the dates of the tenancy, the amount of rent and any security deposit, where the rent is to be delivered, the date that rent is due, any late charges, the notice required for entry to the premises and the procedure for giving notice to the landlord of any problems with the rental property. The agreement should be signed and dated by the landlord and the tenants and a copy should be immediately provided to the tenant.

2. Know What Information About The Rental Property You Are Required To Disclose Before A Lease Is Signed

Before a lease is signed, California landlords are required to disclose or provide notice of the following:

A. The Registered Sex Offender Database – Cal. Civ. Code § 2079.10a .
B. Shared Gas or Electric Utilities – Cal. Civ. Code §1940.9
C. Military Ordnance Locations – Cal. Civil Code 1940.7
D. Toxic Mold – Cal. Health & Safety Code §§ 26147, 26148
E. Pest Control Services – Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.8, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 8538
F. Intended Demolition of The Rental Unit – Cal. Civ. Code § 1940.6
G. No Smoking Policy – Cal. Civ. Code § 1947.5
H. Notice of Default – Cal. Civil Code § 2924.85(d) (residential leases only)
I. Lead-Based Paint – Cal. Civil Code § 1710.2
J. Carcinogenic Materials – Health and Safety Code §§ 25249.5-25249.13
K. Death Of Prior Occupant On The Premises – Cal. Civil Code § 1710.2
L. Asbestos – Cal. Civil Code § 1710.2
M. Methamphetamine Contamination – Health and Safety Code §§ 25400.10-25400.46.

Failure to comply with disclosure requirements could subject the landlord to, among other things, fines and citations. For a more detailed discussion of these disclosures, contact our office for a consultation.

3. Provide Notice Before Entering Premises

California law requires residential landlords to provide at least twenty-four hours notice to the tenant before entering a rental property, except in the case of an emergency. Residential landlords in California may enter the rental premises for the following non-emergency reasons upon at least twenty-four hours notice: to inspect the premises; to make repairs, alterations or improvement; or to show the property to prospective tenants or purchasers.

4. Identify the Nature Of The Tenancy: Commercial, Residential or Mixed-Use

Clearly specify in the lease whether the property is to be used strictly for commercial purposes, strictly as a residence, or as a mixed-use space. The rights and responsibilities of a landlord can vary significantly if you are a residential landlord versus a commercial landlord. To ensure your rights and obligations are clear, it behooves you to make clear in the lease whether the lease is for residential purposes, commercial purposes, or both.

5. Residential Landlords Must Be Family-Friendly

Except in the case of housing for senior citizens (such as assisted living facilities or retirement homes), it is illegal for residential landlords to discriminate against or refuse to rent to families with children under the age of 18.

Experienced Landlord Tenant Attorney Serving the San Francisco Bay Area

For more information on landlord rights and obligations, contact our office at (510) 881-8700 for a consultation.