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When a Tenant Breaks Their Lease

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When you and a tenant sign a rental agreement or lease, you both are bound to the terms of the contract. Most times, however, it will be the tenant who initiates the early termination of a lease, either intentionally or unintentionally. It is rare that a landlord or property owner breaks a lease. Of course, it does happen; it is just a very infrequent occurrence.

With Advanced Notice

Most of the time, a tenant will seek an early termination to a lease or rental agreement because he needs to move to another location, for whatever reason. Many times, the tenant needs to move away from the area for a job. Obviously, he will seek to terminate the lease before it naturally expires. It behooves you to work with your tenant who wants to leave early, and we suggest that you work with the tenant to make his move as painless for both of you as possible.

Of course, if he wishes to vacate his rental unit early, you have to cover yourself financially. You will want to get as much advanced notice as possible so that you can seek out a new tenant to fill the vacancy.

You obviously want to find a new tenant as soon as possible, going through your normal tenant screening process.

The goal is to have a paying tenant in your rental unit for as much time as possible with little to no time in a vacant state. Every day you are without a paying tenant, your past tenant has to pay.

With No Notice

Things get a bit messier when your tenant up and leaves without notice and you have no way to get in touch with them after they’ve left. Things are muddled too when you initiate breaking a lease.

It is not uncommon to wake up one morning to find that one of your rental units had been vacated without any notice. In this case, you had better follow all the proper procedures of your state. You want to make sure that you document everything. You should try to find your ex-tenant, but you also need to find a new tenant to fill the vacancy, forcing you to double your efforts.

If you breach a rental agreement or lease, your tenant has the right to end the lease before its end date. He technically did not break the lease, you did.

Proper Notice

In most jurisdictions, a tenant must give you 30 days or more notice before vacating the premises. This should give you enough time to find a new tenant. In some jurisdictions, even with 30 days’ notice, the former tenant owes rent all the way up until the end of the lease agreement, provided that the rental unit has not yet been occupied.

Do not think that you can bring in a new tenant and keep collecting rent from the former tenant simultaneously, though. That is a no no.

As you can see, there are some nuances around breaking the lease. Most often, leases and rental agreements are broken by your tenants. Work with them and then get busy finding a new tenant.

Listing Photo Do’s and Don’ts

cozy-winter-bedroom-lightsMaking your rental eye catching is the most important aspect of reaching out to prospective renters online. Your rental must stand out from the rest, and give people a reason to want to know more. Here are a few Do’s and Don’ts when it comes to capturing the essence of your rental.

Do: Take a shot from the curb

Showing off your home’s curb appeal should be one of your top priorites as potential renters often decide within a matter of minutes whether they want to keep looking or move on to another listing. Make sure you get the whole house in the shot, and don’t have cars or other objects blocking your line of sight.

Don’t: Make your rental look deformed

When taking a shot from the curb, be mindful of your camera’s angle. The roof line should be parallel with the photo’s frame to make it look level- not look like there is a landslide on the property.

Do: Welcome visitors

An attractive front door and entryway go a long way in setting the tone for the rest of your home. Leaving the door open in one of your photos can also send a welcoming message.

Don’t: Create an unwelcoming feel

Make sure you do a walk through in your rental before hiring someone to take pictures for you, if that is the path you take. You want to know that the property looks exactly the way you want it to before you pay someone to photograph your rental.

Do: Consider a bird’s-eye view

Taking a photo from above is a great way to show off a large property or a waterfront location. It is best if you can get close enough so the home is visible without having to draw an arrow or a box around it.

Don’t: Consider a fish-eye lens

Some use a fish-eye lens to make smaller spaces appear larger. However, they often have the opposite effect, making the space feel smaller and distorted. As a general rule of thumb, stick with a traditional lens for listing photos and make updates to rooms to make them appear larger if need be.

Do: Capture your home’s selling points

You may think it’s best to skip the bathroom when taking listing photos, but if yours was recently update, show it off! You would be surprised how important the bathroom actually is to potential renters. Think about showing off anything that is unique to your rental that makes it different and desirable.

Don’t: Capture yourself in the mirror

Adding a mirror to a room is one way to add more light to a room. And while a vanity can be a home’s selling point, you want buyers to picture themselves in the mirror-not you. Stay out of your listing photos by avoiding angles where you or the flash or your camera may be reflected.

Do: Stage each room

While there are several options to consider when staging your home, the key is to put your best foot forward in your listing photos. Try a simple vase of flowers: it freshens the space without hiding the countertops and is homey and welcoming.

Don’t: Stage a mess

If there’s one absolute “no” when it comes to listing photos, it’s capturing a mess. To check if your level of cleanliness is the right amount, do the “grandma test” by asking yourself if your grandma would feel at home here.

Do: Play up the season

Even if your rental has sat on the market for a while, it will seem up-to-date if the photos reflect the season. If it’s summer, take a sunny photo of the backyard. If it’s winter, create a cozy feel with a fire and a warm blanket.

Don’t: Play up your holiday décor

Over-the-top holiday décor can be a turn-off, especially if buyers don’t celebrate that holiday. Instead, consider ways to decorate for the season as a whole and take photos of rooms without themed décor.

Do: Show off the view

If the view is one of your home’s selling points, you’ll definitely want to show it off. It is best if you can capture it with a part of the house, like the deck, in a shot. That way, renters can tell where the view is from and more easily picture themselves there.

Don’t: Show off your pets

It’s best to focus on the parts of your home that will be there when a renter moves in. As much as you may love your pets, showing them off can come across like false advertising.

Do: Consider the backdrop

If a room in your rental has an incredible backdrop, try to capture it in your photos. Rearranging the furniture can also have a dramatic impact on a space.

Don’t: consider a screenshot

It can be tempting to take a screenshot of an online street-view of your home, but do not do it! Even if you don’t want to hire a professional, your own exterior photo is likely a better option for your listing.

Do: Show off architectural details

Archways, nooks and crannies may be hard to photograph, but they are what give your rental character. Try to capture a few of the architectural details if you can.

Don’t: Show off architectural blunders

Every home has its blemishes, but that does not mean you have to capture them all in the photos. The listing is the time to put your best foot forward; the open house and inspection are when the buyer can take note of the imperfections. You may also want to consider making a few small improvements, like updating the bathroom, before listing your rental.

Do: Take a night shot with the lights on

While it’s easy to assume daytime shots are the best, a nighttime exterior shot can create the right amount of contrast to make your photos stand out. They key is to leave your home’s interior and exterior lights on while you take the photo.

Don’t: Take an interior shot in the dark

When it comes to interior photos, the more light, the better. Use lamps and daytime window light to make your photos as bright as possible, while still looking natural.

Mold in Your Rental Property

rop  Mold is one of the newest environmental hazards causing concern among renters. Across the country, tenants have won multimillion-dollar cases against landlords for significant health problems — such as rashes, chronic fatigue, nausea, cognitive losses, hemorrhaging, and asthma — allegedly caused by exposure to “toxic molds” in their building.

If you suspect there is mold in your Chico rental unit/property, learn what to look for. Even better, take steps to prevent mold before it becomes a problem.

Where Mold Is Found

  Mold comes in various colors and shapes. The villains — with names like stachybotrys, penicillium, aspergilus, paecilomyces, and fusarium — are black, white, green, or gray. Some are powdery, others shiny. Some molds look and smell disgusting; others are barely seen — hidden between walls, under floors and ceilings, or in less accessible spots, such as basements and attics.

Mold often grows on water-soaked materials, such as wall paneling, paint, fabric, ceiling tiles, newspapers, or cardboard boxes. Humidity sets up prime growing conditions for mold. Buildings in naturally humid climates of Texas, California, and the Southern U.S. have experienced more mold problems than residences in drier climates. But whatever the climate, mold can grow as long as moisture is present.

Mold and Your Health

  Mold is also among the most controversial of environmental hazards. There is considerable debate within the scientific and medical communities about which molds, and what situations, pose serious health risks to people in their homes. There is no debate, however, among tenants who have suffered the consequences of living amidst (and inhaling) mold spores.

Keep in mind that most mold is not harmful to your health –for example, the mold that grows on shower tiles is not dangerous. It takes an expert to know whether a particular mold is harmful or just annoying. And it’s very tricky to find out whether a person who has been exposed to mold has actually inhaled or ingested it. New tests that measure the presence of a particular mold’s DNA in a blood sample are the only way to know for sure whether the mold is present in the body.

Landlord Legal Responsibilities for Tenant Exposure to Mold

With a few exceptions, landlord responsibilities regarding mold have not been clearly spelled out in building codes, ordinances, statutes, or regulations.

State Laws on Mold

  Only a few states have taken steps toward establishing permissible mold standards. California, Indiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas are among the few that have passed laws aimed at developing guidelines and regulations for mold in indoor air.

For example, California’s “Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001″ authorizes the state’s Department of Health Services (now called the Department of Health Care Services) to set permissible levels of indoor mold exposure for sensitive populations (like children, or people with compromised immune systems or respiratory problems). The California law also allows the DHCS to develop identification and remediation standards for contractors, owners, and landlords and requires landlords to disclose to current and prospective tenants the presence of any known or suspected mold. For a preliminary report on the implementation of the Act, see the DHS 2005 Report to the California Legislature, Implementation of the Toxic Mold Protection Act of 2001.

Local Laws on Mold

A few cities have enacted ordinances related to mold. For example:

  In San Francisco, mold is considered a legal nuisance, putting it into the same category as trash accumulation or an infestation of vermin. Tenants (and local health inspectors) can sue landlords under private and public nuisance laws if they fail to clean up serious problems. For details, check the San Francisco Department of Public Health website.

Mold Caused by Tenant Behavior

  The liability picture changes when mold grows as the result of your own behavior, such as keeping the apartment tightly shut, creating high humidity, or failing to maintain necessary cleanliness. When a tenant’s own negligence is the sole cause of injury, the landlord is not liable.

Mold Clauses in Leases

  Some landlords include clauses in the lease that purport to relieve them from any liability resulting from mold growth. A smart landlord will try to prevent the conditions that lead to the growth of mold — and tenants should be the landlord’s partner in this effort. This approach requires maintaining the structural integrity of the property i.e. the roof, plumbing, and windows. You can help by preventing mold problems in your home in the first place and promptly reporting problems that need the landlord’s attention.

Preparing Your Rental Before Winter

WinterThere’s no doubt that in most parts of the country, winter weather is just around the corner. As a Chico landlord, you may think of fall maintenance at your rental properties as raking leaves and tending to flower beds. However, fall is the best time to prepare your rental property for winter weather. Winters here in Northern California may not always be the worst, but still it is smart to take the time now to prepare for the upcoming winter season.

If you don’t deal with potential issues now, before they actually happen, you could end up with some significant repairs to work through that could have been prevented. Here are 13 ways that landlords can prepare their rental properties now for the coldest months of the year.

Clear rain gutters. It’s important that you don’t skip this fall task, because it could have a big impact on the rental property in the winter. Clear out leaves, sticks and other debris so the gutters can easily drain water from the roof. If the gutters are clogged, the roof could suffer damage from poor drainage and excessive rain.
Inspect the roof. It’s much easier to repair or replace shingles in the non-winter months and that ensures your rental property roof will be strong enough to withstand even the biggest winter storm.
Winterize yard sprinklers. If the rental property has a sprinkler system, you can empty them of any leftover water to ensure they don’t freeze and burst. Whether you do this yourself or hire a service, it’s a small task that could have a big impact if not done.
Seal sidewalk and driveway cracks. Water gets into cracks in sidewalks and driveways and expands them via freezing and thawing. What was a small crack in the fall can turn into an eyesore or a safety hazard by spring. Use a concrete sealer manufactured for just this purpose to stop the process.
Take care of the A/C unit. If your rental property has an A/C system, fall is a wonderful time to safeguard it for the winter. Clean out any debris and cover it up, especially if you live in an area of heavy snow or ice. Protecting the A/C unit will ensure that it will be ready to kick on next year when it is needed.

Inspect doors and windows. Locate areas around doors and windows where heat is most likely to escape, such as loose caulking, torn weather stripping and gaps where doors and windows meet frames. Take the time to repair these areas now before the cold weather arrives, because it is easier and will save your tenants money on their heating bill.
Wrap pipes before winter. Look for un-insulated pipes and wrap them with foam sleeves to ensure they won’t freeze when temperatures drop. Frozen pipes can easily burst, causing all kinds of water damage. By getting a jump on it, you can prevent this kind of catastrophe. Don’t forget to detach garden hoses from spigots and draining those lines as well.
Inspect the heating system. Turn the heater on to ensure that everything is working properly so you can get a service person out before it’s the middle of winter and the waiting list is very long. Also, replace the furnace filter and make sure vents open and close properly.
Arrange for a furnace tune-up. Many professional services offer winterizing tune ups for furnaces, and it’s always a good idea for a professional to perform maintenance on the furnace than it is to wait for it to break.
Check alarms. Smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors are a critical part of keeping tenants safe, and it’s your duty to ensure that they are all in proper working order. Carbon monoxide detectors are particularly important in winter, as people tend to keep windows closed.
Clean ducts out. Every few years, it’s a smart idea to get the ductwork of the rental property vacuumed out. Debris can build up, restricting the flow of air and putting strain on heating and cooling systems.
Inspect the chimney. If your rental property has a fireplace and chimney, make sure it is taken care of before tenants use the fireplace for the first time. Arrange for a professional to inspect and clean the chimney, clearing it for debris and checking to make sure no other repairs are needed. A faulty chimney can become a health hazard as well as a safety and fire hazard.
Consider adding more insulation. While there is a cost involved, many home owners add insulation to the attic in the fall to help with heating and cooling. Adding to the existing insulation can make a big difference in how well the rental property stays warm or cool.

Sooner than you think, winter will be unleashing its full fury, and it is up to you to make sure your rental property is ready for the serious frost, rain and cold that is being predicted. The time to prepare is in the fall, well before the first winter storm arrives in your area. While your rental property may not be able to withstand every single winter-related disaster, by being prepared you can minimize the damage and problems, thus saving yourself time, stress and money.

Are Bad Neighbors Driving Your Good Tenants Away?

neighborsYour Chico rental property may be a well-maintained, cozy unit with universal appeal and you might be the world’s greatest landlord, but what happens when a bad neighbor makes it hard for you to attract or keep decent tenants? While landlords have some control over what their own tenants can and cannot do in a rental property, there’s not much that can be done about bad neighbors on their own nearby property.

 

Here are three of the most common bad neighbor practices and some ideas on how you can minimize the effect the neighbor might have on your current and future tenants.

 

Bad Neighbor #1. Unattractive Property

 

Ugly House, its piles of junk, inoperable cars or a poorly maintained home and yard, an unattractive neighboring property can really drag your rental property’s appeal down.

 

Even if your rental property is well-maintained and landscaped, it doesn’t take much for prospective tenants to glance next door and wonder what kind of person they will be living next to if they choose to move in. Seeing bad neighbors and ugly property every day may be one of those things that prospective tenants feel like they simply can’t live with.

 

Cosmetically, you can minimize the view from your own rental property by using some creative landscaping methods. Consider installing a privacy fence between your property and the bad neighbor. Many cities allow fencing as tall as between 6 to 8 feet in the backyard. Try planting fast-growing trees that will soon be tall enough to screen out the trashy yard. If a view from one of the rental property’s window overlooks the neighbor’s bad yard, try installing dual blinds that only open at the top half, allowing light and a view of the sky while blocking out a downward view of the mess.

 

From a legal standpoint, see what kind of regulations the city has in place for yard or lot maintenance standards. Many cities have outlined minimum requirements for residents that include maximum grass height, keeping trash and junk on a property, inoperable motor vehicles, outdoor storage rules, maintenance for dead trees and other vegetation and keeping commercial equipment on private property. Get the law on your side and let officials know that the neighbor is violating city codes.

 

Bad Neighbor #2. Big, Loud Dogs

 

Dealing with the noise from a neighbor’s dogs can be one of the most frustrating things as a landlord because it can be a deal breaker for otherwise qualified tenants who love your rental property.

 

Similarly, neighbors who allow their big dogs to roam around the neighborhood can scare off prospective tenants who don’t want to risk living next to animals that are potentially unpredictable. Whether it’s the dog’s barking or merely the presence of big dogs next door, these bad neighbors probably don’t realize the difficulties they are causing you.

 

Most cities have regulations in place to deal with dogs who bark excessively or who are allowed to roam free. Check with the city to determine the standards for unreasonable levels of noise and especially how they pertain to dogs. Generally, louder noises are allowed during the day with a quiet period outlined for evenings and nights. Know what the law allows before you head next door to discuss it with the dog owner. If bad neighbors are unwilling to make changes, you and your tenants are well within your rights to call the police or animal control. With enough warnings and fines, the dog owners will either comply or lose their animals.

 

As a landlord, you might consider changing your rental agreement to allow prospective tenants with a dog. The reason for this is that current dog owners have a hard time finding rental properties that allow pets, so they may be less likely to turn up their nose at the neighbor’s animals. Also, current dog owners may be a little more tolerant of neighboring dogs because they have one of their own.

 

Bad Neighbor #3. Excessive or Late Night Noise

 

When your rental property’s neighbor has a habit of blasting loud music, hosting rowdy late night parties or working with power tools early in the morning, it can drive current and prospective tenants crazy. If you confront the neighbor about noise problems, it’s helpful to have knowledge of the city’s noise ordinances to back you up.

 

Similar to the dog regulations, cities generally have noise ordinances in place for certain times of day. Noise above a certain decibel level in the evening and night can be a violation, and therefore enforced by law. First, remind bad neighbors about the restrictions and politely inform him or her that you’ll encourage your tenants to report excessive violations. Then, give your tenants the information they need to make the reports to the police if and when the neighbor ever generates excessive noise during off hours.

 

You can also take certain steps to minimize outside noise from within the rental property. Windows are the primary entry point for outside noise, so make sure that all the caulking and weather stripping is intact and making a tight seal. You might consider installing multiple pane windows in the spots that face the neighbor’s property to better block acoustics from next door. Putting up soundproofing window covers, like shutters, window blankets or noise reducing curtains can further muffle outside noises for your tenants.

Working Through Maintenance Delays With Residents

maintenanceThe modern-day renter chooses the renter lifestyle because it’s convenient and worry free. Once they become residents of your Chico property, how can you ensure you deliver that implied promise? Keeping the ship running smoothly is an uphill battle — appliances will break, amenities need maintenance, and maintenance delays will happen. They key to placating frustrated residents as you work to resolve issues is delivering great customer service.

  • Keep residents in the loop

As a resident, it’s irritating to deal with a leaky faucet and not know when it will be taken care of. When appliances break, or when the elevator is out of commission, let your residents know when they can expect the issue to be fixed. Return calls and messages for maintenance service as soon as you can, and update residents on the status of the repair. Providing a fix-by date will help residents cope with the inconvenience and communicate that your team is aware of and addressing the problem.

  • Resolve problems ASAP

Your residents will take the small things for granted until a problem arises: the dumpster overflows, the laundry stops working, or the elevator is shut down for maintenance. Your residents expect an orderly apartment community where everything works as it’s supposed to. When things break and issues aren’t addressed, their satisfaction level with your community will decrease. If you let it drag on for too long, they are more likely to consider moving once their lease expires.

  • Show you care

Building a foundation for resident satisfaction begins with great service from the management. When delays happen and things go wrong, it’s vital to communicate to residents how your team is working to fix the problem. At the end of the day, responsive customer service and prompt maintenance are the best ways to communicate that you value your residents and care about their living experience.

5 Tips to Help You in Your Final Walk Through Before Buying a Home

House HuntingYou’ve found the home you love, made the offer, and the seller has accepted. You’ve gotten your inspections done, your loan is being finalized and an escrow closing date has been set.

Great. But you’re not quite finished yet.

Your next step is a final walk-through, arranged through your real estate agent, at least a week before closing. The goal: Ensure the property’s condition hasn’t changed since your last visit, that any agreed-upon repairs have been made and that the terms of your contract will be met. Depending on your contract or local customs, a walk-through may be informal or more formal. In a formal arrangement, you will actually sign a contract addendum confirming that you’ve done your walk-through and everything is as it should be.

Here’s what you need to know for your final walk-through:

1. A final walk-through isn’t a home inspection. You’ve already done that by now (or should have).

2. Take your contract with you. You might need to refer to it while on site.

3. In many markets, the buyers and sellers never actually meet in person. But if everyone is agreeable to the idea, perform the final walk-through in the seller’s presence. He or she knows the home better than anyone else and should be able to answer your questions and provide some color on the history of the home.

4. If the home is vacant, it’s even more important to do a final walk-through. Since your last visit, for instance, someone might have left a faucet dripping, inadvertently causing water damage.

5. Take along a checklist of things to do during the final walk-through, including:

-Check the exterior of the home, especially if there have been strong wind or rain storms since your last visit.

-Turn all light fixtures on and off.

-Make sure the seller hasn’t removed any fixtures, such as chandeliers, that he or she agreed to leave behind.

-Check all major appliances.

-Turn heat and/or air conditioning on and off.

-Turn on water faucets; check for leaks under sinks.

-Test the garage door openers.

-Flush all toilets.

-Open and close all windows and doors.

-Do a visual spot-check of ceilings, walls and floors.

-Turn on the garbage disposal and exhaust fans.

-Check the status of any agreed-upon repairs.

-Check screens and storm windows. If they’ve been stored, make sure you know where they are and that they’re in good shape.

-Look in storage areas to make sure no trash or unwanted items remain. Old paint cans or hazardous materials are often left behind by the seller.

-Do a quick check of the grounds. Some sellers have dug up and taken plants (even small trees or bushes) with them.

 

Taking an hour for one last inspection is a good investment in your time. After all, you don’t want to spend the first weeks in your new home cleaning up or making unexpected repairs.

When and How Often Can a Landlord Access a Tenant Occupied Property

property_management_featureEven though you are the rightful owner of your Chico rental property, the law is quite clear on when and how often you can access that property when it is occupied by a tenant.

Each state has set up strict limits on the regulations regarding accessing the property, and violating that can actually be illegal. Before you enter your occupied rental property, make sure you are familiar with the conditions imposed by your state.

Entering for Maintenance and Upkeep:

Performing maintenance and upkeep tasks on the rental property is your right as the owner, but the means by which you gain entrance to the property is conditional upon providing the tenant enough notice.

Most states require that landlords deliver a written notice of the intent to enter at least 24 hours in advance, what is considered a reasonable time period. Your right to enter is also limited to normal business hours—between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on weekdays only.

Some states require that landlords can only give a notice to enter if there is actual maintenance to perform. You can’t perform a surprise inspection or a walk through with no intent to repair anything. If you enter the rental property for maintenance and the tenant is not home, it’s required in some states that you leave evidence of your entry, such as a note or signed business card, for the tenant.

Entering if There is an Emergency:

In very limited circumstances, you can enter the rental property if there is an emergency that would cause damage to the property or harm to a person if you did not take care of it.

An example of this might be accessing an upper floor apartment because the downstairs tenant reports water dripping from the ceiling. In an emergency, you can enter the property at any time, any day of the week, whether the tenant is home or not.

You do not have to deliver a written notice to enter in an emergency, but it’s always a good idea to document your actions with a written letter explaining the circumstances and what you did to resolve the problem.

Entering to Show Your Property to Buyers:

When you decide to sell your rental property, the law allows you to show it to prospective buyers, even if it is occupied by a tenant. However, the conditions of entry are strict as well.

To let your tenant know of your intent to sell, you must deliver a written notice in advance. Each state has differing time limits.

For example, in California it is 120 days. After that, you must give the tenant a written notice or an oral notice at least 24 hours in advance that you intend to bring potential buyers into the unit. Stick to normal business hours and only on weekends.

You can work additional scheduling out with the tenant and should only deviate with the tenant’s permission.

Review Landlord/Tenant Rights in Your State:

While entering your own property may seem like a non-issue, it’s actually a big deal to tenants who sign a lease agreement. They are entitled to quiet enjoyment of the property and are also protected from unwanted or unlawful entry—even from the owner or landlord. Protect yourself and your business by sticking to the established guidelines in your state for landlord entry.

Landlord Tips for Preventing a Dispute with a Contractor

HomepageContractor1The potential for disagreements with contractors is high, so follow these 10 steps to protect yourself and your rental property from costly disagreements and miscommunications:

1. Make sure to get everything in writing, and take notes on the conversations you have

2. Do not rush into hiring a contractor. You want to wait and make sure you have all of the information you need in order to make an informed decision.

3. Shop around. Talk to people, ask questions, and do as much as you possibly can to learn about the project before you start on it.

4. Check out the references of your contractor before you sign the contract.

5. Check on the contractor’s license, and make sure they are properly licensed to do the job you are considering hiring them for.

6. Ask how “extras” will be handled, and make sure that these procedures are part of the contract.

7. Never sign a document or paper unless you understand the full meaning of what you are signing.

8. Have an open line of communication with the contractor. You want to talk to them before they start work on the project, and while they are working on it.

9. Be reasonable when working with your contractor. Construction projects hardly ever go as planned. When something unexpected comes up, see how your contractor handles the situation. If he is acting responsible and it seemed like the right way to handle the situation, then be reasonable about it.

10. Check references. This is the most important step and often overlooked, so we have mentioned it twice. Be sure to thoroughly check all references given.

What to do When a Tenant Abandons a Rental Property

Even the best of Chico landlords deal with nightmare tenants. Besides landlord-tenant disputes and resident enew_apartment_housevictions, another headache that can come with the job is resident abandonment. What do you do when a resident abandons the property without notice? Before you clean out the unit and list it for rent, it’s important to follow the correct legal procedure for dealing with property abandonment.

Give notice before entering:

Even if multiple neighbors tell you they saw the resident move out weeks ago, you still need to give the tenant advance notice before entering the property. Send a written notice, contact the resident numerous times, and give them the appropriate advance notice required by your state’s laws. As always, double check your state and local rental laws before moving forward.

Document the inspection:

Be very careful when you enter the unit. Legally, you don’t have possession of the property yet. The resident could be out of town or in the process of moving. Bring a witness with you for the inspection and use a camera or videotape to document the condition of the unit. Photographic evidence will show what was abandoned and the value of the belongings in case a claim is brought against you by the tenant for disposing of their belongings. Check that the resident didn’t leave any dangerous or hazardous conditions when they left the unit. Look for signs of abandonment, such as missing furniture or expensive electronics.

Don’t throw anything out:

Your first reflex may be to clear the unit of all the tenant’s personal belongings, but not so fast. When a resident abandons a unit, the law requires you to care for the personal property and return it to the tenant. Disposing of items prematurely could result in a claim from the tenant that you owe them for the items they left behind, leaving you with a hefty replacement fee (especially if you haven’t documented the items that were abandoned). Check how long your state law requires you to hold the belongings.

Decide on the best course of action

Once you’ve confirmed that the resident has abandoned the unit, the best course of action will probably be to go forward with your state’s procedure for abandonment. This usually involves holding the tenant’s property for up to one month and letting them know where their belongings are being held and where they can be claimed. Depending on the situation, evicting the resident or having them sign a release of rights of possession (if they can be reached) is also an option. Consult professional legal advice to find out the best way to proceed in your situation.

Resident abandonment puts landlords in a tricky situation. Do your research on state and local laws concerning abandonment and follow them closely to protect yourself from legal trouble.