Tag Archives: Eviction

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.

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.

Landlord Guide to Written Notice Letters

you've been servedBeing a Chico landlord means you’ll have to communicate with your tenants frequently about a range of topics, from repairs to rent notices. While phone calls may be easier, you’re leaving yourself open to disputes unless you communicate in writing.

When you must communicate something serious to your tenants, like a pay or quit notice or lease termination notice, not only must it be written properly, but you must deliver it by the appropriate process outlined by your state.

Create Written Notices to Tenants

Written documentation is critical when you are communicating with tenants about terminating a lease or starting the eviction process. State laws require these notices to be done in writing, with variations from state to state on the details of the process. Landlords can lose disputes in court simply for failing to follow their state’s laws that outline the landlord/tenant communication process.

It’s also in your best interest to keep written documentation of other types of communication besides notices, such as conversations about landlord repairs, notices to enter the rental property and follow ups on lease violations. If you end up with a tenant dispute that goes to court, such as over a repair or a security deposit, your written notices are evidence showing your side of the story. Written notices also confirm dates, times and situations that may be hard to remember several weeks, months or years after the fact.

Proper Delivery of Written Tenant Notices

In most states, there are three ways that you can officially leave written notice with a tenant.

1. Personal Delivery

You can hand the written communication to the tenant, either at the rental property or at the tenant’s workplace. Even if the tenant refuses to take the letter, you can leave it near him, such as on the front step or on his desk at work. Make a note of the delivery time and date on your copy of the notice

2. Substitute and Mail

You can leave the written communication with someone who lives with the tenant, such as another adult or an older teenager. Make a note of the deliver time and date on your copy of the notice, as well as the full name of who you left it with. That same day, you must send a copy via certified mail to the tenant’s address. Note the day on your copy.

3. Nail and Mail

If the previous methods don’t work, you can affix the written notice to the door of the property. That same day, send a copy via certified mail to the tenant’s address. Record all the steps on your copy of the notice.

Storing Tenant Notices

If your written communication has to do with evictions, repairs, leases or disputes, it’s wise to keep copies in a folder in your office. Start a file for each one of your tenants and add to it as needed. You may never need the correspondence, but if you do, having written documentation of a tenant episode may just make things easier for you, in or out of court.

How to Say “No” to Tenants

Successful landlords have learned how to be effective business managers. Real estate investment is a business, and as a Chico landlord, you are responsible for making the necessary decisions that allow your business to be profitable, all while staying within the law. One of the most effective things a landlord can do in order to run a business effectively is to learn to say no.No more

While this may sound cliche, mastering the skill of saying no can help you keep your sanity, streamline your business practices and make things easier for you and your tenants in the long run.

Embracing the Word “No”:

Modern culture has somehow changed someone’s polite refusal to do something into a harsh shutdown of conversation. When you say no to someone, you probably feel rude, mean or uncaring. However, in the right situation, learning to say no is both empowering and freeing. It helps you assess responsibility, limits your time focused on unnecessary tasks and gives you a chance to prioritize your goals.

Many people also associate negativity with saying no, with the idea that someone who always says yes is more likeable and eager to please. As a Chico landlord, neither of those characteristics really benefit you. Instead, by saying no to some things, it opens up the doors for you to say yes on other requests and sets the tone for the landlord/tenant relationship that you are not a pushover and won’t capitulate under pressure.

Successful landlords have learned this technique, and if you can master it, your management abilities will definitely improve.

6 Tips for Saying No to Tenants:

As a Chico landlord, learning to say no can be difficult and it may take you several instances to gain enough confidence to deliver your message. When you follow these tips, it can help you master this important business skill practiced by the most successful landlords.

Here are 6 helpful tips on saying no to tenants:

1. It takes practice

It may take some practice with saying no before you feel comfortable doing it in real life. Run through scenarios in your mind and formulate answers to requests where you say no.

2. You don’t have to be mean

Remember that when you say no, you never have to be mean or rude. It’s a real skill to turn down requests in a polite manner using language that is clear and concise but not abrupt or negative.

3. Body language is important

Your body language and tone of voice is a key part of delivering an effective no. Make eye contact, keep your voice even and firm, and deliver your decision with an explanation if needed.

4. Don’t apologize…too much

Many people bundle up a no with profuse apologies, which minimizes the effect of the conversation and suggests room for negotiation or another petition. Avoid overly apologizing—one simple and sincere apology will do.

5. Be respectful

Make sure you are saying no to the situation or request, not to the person. Being polite and respectful to the tenant while denying the request emphasizes that you are clearly focused on the business decision you are making, not putting the person down.

6. Explain your reason clearly

Offer an explanation as part of the message. When you can present your reasons clearly, the other person is more likely to accept your answer as final. They may not like it, but at least they will see your reasoning.

These tips can help you boost your confidence and get you mentally ready to stand your ground as needed when it comes to managing your business and making appropriate decisions for how you are handling your property.

Scenarios for Saying No to Tenants:

In a perfect landlord/tenant relationship, there would be no conflicts with tenants or instances where you would have to say no to someone. However, real life requires successful landlords to be able to deliver the no messages and gently but firmly decline requests.

Here are some scenarios based on real life situations where landlords said no gracefully, and how it benefitted their business:

Problem: Overly Demanding Tenant

Christina has a tenant who is extremely demanding. The tenant, Anna, frequently calls or emails Christina with maintenance demands that must be fulfilled immediately. In order to get results, Anna often vaguely threatens to contact various authorities, such as her lawyer, the police or a local tenant landlord group. Christina always jumps whenever Anna puts in a request for something, because she is intimidated by Anna’s demands and threats.

This has resulted in many late night visits, expensive after-hours fees for service companies and plenty of stress for Christina.

Solution: Christina decides to say no to Anna’s frequent immediate repair and maintenance demands.

Unless the repair threatens the safety of the tenants, would damage the property somehow or otherwise affect the warranty of habitability, Christina says she will address the maintenance in a timely fashion. On this call and for the next several “urgent” request, Christina tells Anna that the requested service is not urgent, she won’t be addressing the nonessential repair immediately and that she will resolve the issue within the week and keep Anna informed of progress.

Each time Anna protests, Christina calmly says no, explains that her approach is well within the legal requirements of landlord responsibility and that she will be sending a written statement of the course of action to Anna and keep one for her records. After several similar incidents where Christina says no, Anna’s requests are fewer and more respectful.

Problem: Denying a Tenant Request

Davis is a landlord who has been fielding calls from other tenants about noise, parking problems and other lease violations from the guest of one of his tenants, Marcus. It seems that Marcus’ girlfriend has been staying at the rental unit almost every night and day, and it is evident that she is the cause of much of the problems. When Davis confronts Marcus about the girlfriend and the lease agreement violations, Marcus asks if his girlfriend can move in and be on the lease agreement. Davis knows that while Marcus has been a good tenant, the girlfriend has proven herself to be nothing but trouble.

Solution: Davis tells Marcus that he will not allow the girlfriend to be added to the lease agreement and that Marcus is in fact responsible for the actions of any guests to the rental property.

Davis is firm when he tells Marcus that if he cannot remedy the situation with the girlfriend’s behavior, Marcus will receive a 30 day notice to quit for lease violations. When Marcus protests, Davis shows him the place in the lease agreement about guests and violations and reiterates that the next report means official action.

The next time the girlfriend visits, she violates the lease agreement again and angers other tenants, who notify Davis. Davis delivers the official notice to Marcus the next day, and receives a desperate phone call begging him to reconsider. Davis says no, and sticks to his timeline as outlined in the notice. When Marcus moves out, other tenants express their appreciation for how Davis handled the situation. It goes without saying that other tenants internalized that Davis is not a pushover when it comes to enforcing the lease agreement.

Problem: Pushing the Boundaries for Late Rent

Marissa is a landlord who delivered a late rent notice last week to Brian. After several days of trying to get in contact with him, Brian finally calls and states that he will pay the rent as soon as he can, probably a few weeks. He asks that Marissa toss out the pay or quit notice and stop the eviction process until he can pay because he promises that it will only be this once. Brian then offers to pay partial rent soon and the balance later. He indicates he is willing to do payment arrangements as well—anything to stop the eviction process.

Solution: Marissa knows she is in a tough situation and needs to be firm on what she will accept.

At the beginning of her journey as a landlord, she decided that she would never accept partial payments or do payment arrangements, so she stands firm and delivers a solid no to the tenant. Marissa reminds Brian that if he could come up with the full rent payment plus late fees, she would stop pursuing the eviction. She tells Brian that the eviction process will go forward as planned until the rent is paid in full and after a certain point, she will not accept rent.

Despite his promises to pay and his attempts to get her to call off the eviction process, Brian never did follow through. By the time Marissa realized that he wasn’t going to pay the rent, the eviction process was well underway. Had she waited to start the process until she realized that, Marissa would have endured several more weeks or months with no income while the eviction process got started.

Consequences of Saying No

The benefits of saying no when it is appropriate are huge, but there are some downsides and consequences of taking a stand. Anytime you refuse someone, they will most likely not be happy about it. In a business relationship, you’ve got to set limits and being a landlord is no different. Knowing when to say yes and when to say no is a key part of a successful management strategy.

Whether a tenant gets angry, gives you the silent treatment or turns passive aggressive, sometimes the consequences of saying no can feel personal. Above all, don’t take it personally because feeling slighted when refused is simply human nature. As a landlord, you must own your decisions and realize that you are making them for specific reasons. When you are educated about what it takes to run your real estate business, your confidence in making the right decisions will carry you through any guilt you might feel.

Frequently Asked Questions About Security Deposits and California Law

security_depositMost Chico residential leases and rental agreements in California require a security deposit. This is a dollar amount, usually one month’s rent, that’s intended to cover damage to the premises beyond normal wear and tear, and to cushion the financial blow if a tenant skips out early on the lease without paying. Here’s a summary of California landlord-tenant laws that cover the use and return of security deposits.

Q: Does California law limit how much a landlord can charge a tenant for a security deposit?

A: Yes. Under California landlord-tenant laws, a landlord may charge a renter the equivalent of two months’ rent for the security deposit if the residence is unfurnished, and three months’ rent if the residence is furnished. California landlords can also add an extra one-half month’s rent if the tenant has a waterbed. Landlords may not charge nonrefundable fees in California.

Q: What about when a renter moves out? What is the deadline in California for returning a security deposit?

A: Under California law, a landlord must return the renter’s security deposit, with an itemized statement of deductions, within 21 days after the renter has surrendered the rental property to the landlord (that is, returned the keys and vacated the property).

Q: Is there additional information that California landlords must provide to renters when it comes to security deposits in California?

A: Yes. In addition to complying with California laws on security deposit limits and how (and when) the deposit must be returned to tenants, landlords in California must provide renters with advance notice before taking any deductions out of the security deposit, such as for the cost of repairs for damage to the property.

Q: Where can I look up California law on security deposits?

A: If you want to go right to the source and look up the California laws on security deposits — or if you’re writing a letter to your landlord or tenant and want to cite the applicable law — the relevant statute(s) can be found at California Civil Code  1950.5 and 1940.5(g). Your city or county might have different landlord-tenant and security deposit laws than those at the state level in California, especially if your rental property is covered by rent control.

Check out our blog on repair costs and security deposits for more information!

 

7 Tips for Writing a Rental Reference Letter

letter writingA tenant may ask you to write a rental reference letter in order to help them rent another place down the road. Writing a rental reference letter doesn’t take much time, but some landlords may get confused about what to say.

As a Chico landlord, you appreciate an honest and thorough rental reference on prospective tenants, but are you extending the same professional courtesy to your former tenant’s new landlord? When a tenant requests a rental reference letter, deliver the information honestly and succinctly.

Writing a rental reference letter doesn’t have to take a long time, especially if you have your tenant’s file in front of you for reference. Keep the file by your computer, and follow these 7 steps to writing a rental reference letter:

1. Put the date at the top of the letter, and then address the letter “To whom it may concern.”

2. Provide the tenancy information by including the tenant’s full name, the address of the rental property and the dates of occupancy.

3. Share whether or not the tenant paid rent on time, and if there were any instances of late rent, you can note how the issue was resolved.

4. Reveal the care and condition of the property while the tenant lived there and use several accurate descriptive words.

5. Give information about the tenant’s behavior and interactions with you and with other tenants.

6. Summarize the landlord/tenant relationship by stating whether you would rent to the tenant again, if given the opportunity.

7. Provide your contact information and invite the reader to contact you with any questions.

 

A rental reference letter should only relate the facts as they relate to the tenancy—never about personal feelings. You should never go overboard in revealing any personal information about the tenant either, such as gossip or stereotypes. The reference letter should be factual and end with a simple endorsement. When the future landlord has the chance to evaluate all the facts, he or she can make the call on whether to rent to the tenant or not.

 

Rental Reference Letter Sample

Sometimes it’s easiest to see what a rental reference letter should include by an example:

 

July 15, 2011

To whom it may concern,

I have been asked to write a rental reference letter on behalf of John Doe, who rented an apartment from me at 2202 Orange Street from June 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011.

During the 1-year lease, John always paid the rent on time except for once, when he contacted me in advance about a family emergency and made arrangements to pay in full by the 15th of the month plus late fees. He fulfilled that agreement.

John kept the apartment in good condition and always alerted me to any maintenance issues in a timely manner. At the move-out inspection, there were only 2 very minor charges for damages. I have no complaints about him on file from other residents and found him to be a quiet and respectful tenant.

If given the opportunity, I would definitely rent to John again. Please contact me with any questions about his tenancy at 777-8888.

Sincerely,

Ms. Landlord

 

Remember that it is not your responsibility to share every detail of your tenant’s file with the world. Instead, let the facts speak for themselves and do your duty as a landlord in creating a simple, informational letter for your tenant to use.

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Tenants and Their Pets

dogs-and-catsOne of the things that may surprise you about your Chico tenants is that they will not tell you everything. They may not tell you when something in their apartment breaks or stops working. Tenants may also bring in roommates that you do not know about. Finally, tenants may not tell you that they own a pet.

Pets on the Property

Let’s face facts: You probably scared your new tenant right at the beginning of your landlord/tenant relationship into hiding the fact that he owns a dog and will be bringing it with him when he moves into your Chico apartment complex or property. You most likely require a higher security deposit for pet owners because pets can cause costly repairs and maintenance.

It is your right as a property owner to mitigate your risk of costly repairs that arise from pets.

If a tenant hides the fact that he has a pet and you later find out (and you always do), you have every right to terminate the rental agreement because the tenant breached the contract (by not telling you about his pet). Evictions, however, are costly proceedings and you will want to avoid them as much as possible.

If you find that a tenant has brought in a pet, you can certainly approach him and collect a bigger security deposit. You can also write up a new lease with the newly-discovered pet issue contained therein. In short, you always want to minimize the risk of expensive repairs and maintenance.

Protect Your Investment

Pets can cause a lot of damage. Everything from ripped draperies to soiled carpets to chewed doors and door frames can be attributed to out-of-control pets. It is better for both the tenant and landlord to address these potential pitfalls from the beginning. If you aren’t diligent about matters of this nature, you will find that managing your property will be more difficult than it needs to be.

Removing carpet stains of urine from a pet or multiple pets can be extremely expensive.  Often, entire carpets must be ripped out and replaced before a new tenant can occupy a rental unit.

Between tenancies is when you will most likely discover that your former tenant had a pet that he did not disclose to you.  At this point, obviously, you cannot terminate the rental agreement and must turn to the security deposit to recoup some of your expenses for repairs.

Higher Security Deposits for Pets

A higher security deposit for pets allows you to cover all extra cleaning and repairs necessitated by virtue of the tenant owning a pet or in the event he is keeping it on the premises without your knowledge. You may find, however, that the security deposit will not cover all of the necessary repairs. This is why it is vitally important to find out whether your tenants have pets before they move in.

Of course, if your new tenant fails to tell you about his 100 gallon fish tank and you find out later that the tank broke and flooded not only his apartment but the apartment downstairs, too, you will be faced with expensive and extensive damages.

Of course, if you had known about the aquarium, you could have not only collected a higher security deposit but you could have required that the tenant purchase rental insurance, which likely would have covered any necessary repairs.

As you can see, pets present unique challenges to landlords and property managers. Always be on the lookout for violations of your pet policy, as finding out sooner—rather than later—is always preferable and is often far less costly.

At the end of the day, studies show that you will make more renting to tenants with pets, than without, but just make sure you do it cautiously.

4 Common Tricks Used by Desperate Rental Applicants

untitledAs a Chico landlord, you’re always on the lookout for the best tenant out of your pool of rental applicants. When you haven’t been a landlord for long, it’s important to be aware of some common tricks that desperate applicants try to pull on naïve landlords. These scams are designed to put you off guard and convince you to skip doing a thorough background check on the applicant. Usually, it’s because the applicant has something to hide.

While you should always strictly adhere to the Federal Fair Housing Guidelines and your own standards of tenant screening, there are a few red flags that may alert to you if an applicant who is trying to scam you.

Here are four common cons that you should be aware of that may tip you off about the applicant’s ability to pay and how they will treat your property:

 

Trick #1: The Immediate Cash Offer

An applicant may approach you with an offer that he or she will pay the first month’s rent and the security deposit in cash if you can rush the move-in date to right away. This can seem very attractive—after all, you don’t have the property sitting vacant for very long and you’ll save time on tenant screening all the other applicants.

Another seeming advantage is that with cash, you won’t have to worry about bad checks or the tenant’s inability to pay.

While there can definitely be instances where paying cash and a speedy move-in request are legitimate, it may also signal that the applicant has been asked to leave a previous rental or is being evicted. You may be lulled into a false sense of security by an enthusiastic tenant waving cash and rushing to sign a lease, only to find out that they are running from a bad rental situation.

 

Trick #2: Challenging the Tenant Screening Process

Whether they complain about all the rental application fees, leave blanks on the application or act hurt that you want to investigate their background, applicants who question your tenant screening process may actually have something to hide. They may even act offended that you don’t trust them or that you are questioning their integrity. A naïve landlord might agree to waive fees or skip the tenant screening process to make up for hurting someone’s feelings.

While this could just signal inexperience in renting, it can also alert you to the possibility that the applicant hasn’t been through any legitimate screening process before or that money is tight because they are worried about the fee. An experienced tenant understands that the background check, employment and landlord verification and the rest of the process takes time and money. They won’t

mind waiting because they understand and appreciate what it takes to get good tenants and probably feel confident that their application will look good.

 

Trick #3: One of Multiple Adult Tenants

When an applicant offers to be the only one on the lease agreement, despite the fact that other adults will be living in the house, it can signal that the applicant may be the only one with a clean background. It’s always wise to run checks on everyone over the age of 18 who will be living in the Chico rental unit, but especially if the applicant is persistent about leaving someone out of the screening process.

Applicants who raise questions about the other adults in the home filling out forms and submitting information for screening may be trying to cover up the fact that someone won’t pass the background check, whether it’s for a previous poor rental history, criminal history or unemployment. Applicants with nothing to hide will have no problem with every adult undergoing screening.

 

Trick #4: Currently Living With Family

Some applicants will reveal that they are currently living with family members and have no landlord references. While of course this can be a legitimate situation based on personal circumstances, it’s not uncommon for people with poor rental histories or current financial difficulties to stay with family members when they have nowhere else to go.

The applicant may be reluctant to provide contact information for a past landlord or claim that it was long ago and they can’t remember. Without contacting past landlords, you won’t get a neutral reference on what kind of tenant the applicant is. Diligence in contacting a previous landlord is important, and the results will be worth it to get a clearer understanding of what kind of tenant this person was in the past and how that may impact your decision to accept the applicant.

Hopefully a few of these tips will help you avoid having the wrong tenants in your Chico property. Remember to always treat possible tenants with respect but too also keep your guard up in order to preserve the integrity of your business.

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How to Stop Your Chico Rental Property from Becoming Party Central

downloadWe are all aware that Chico is a College town, therefore- every apartment or house near the college and downtown is a prime location for student parties, and is also at risk of damage to the property due to alcohol induced behavior. One of the most frustrating parts of being a landlord is dealing with out of control tenants and their out of control guests. There is no more significant event that highlights this frustration than when a tenant decides to throw a party. Let’s be honest, summer is quickly approaching, which is the “golden hour” for parties with tenants planning to stay over summer; especially if they are just moving in.

When there’s a “kegger” on your property, the likelihood for damage, noise complaints and injury increase dramatically. In this article we’ll explain what you can do to keep your Chico rental property from becoming party central and drastically reduce the risk of damage and liability.

1. Restricting Drinking on the Rental Property

Drinking parties can lead to rowdy, destructive behavior, and violations of noise ordinances. A smart Chico landlord will make sure there are restrictions in place and the tenant knows them before moving in. As long as the lease agreement clearly states that the Chico rental property is a no-party zone, the tenant must comply or face eviction for failure to comply.

While you may not care if the tenant drinks responsibly in the privacy of the rental unit, you must be clear that full-fledged parties that serve alcohol are simply not allowed. Especially in college towns such as Chico, landlords should make sure that parties and “keggers” happen elsewhere, not on their property. Besides the potential for damaged property, underage drinking can be a concern and it is possible that a landlord can be held liable for it.

2. Use Specific Wording in the Lease Agreement

For Chico landlords that feel strongly about controlling large-scale drinking in their rental units, the lease agreement is the best way to keep things under control. Take steps to keep the environment quiet and friendly before it’s too late by including strong wording in the lease agreement

Wording in the lease agreement should address a limit on the number of guests on the property to a certain number (say no more than 10 without permission from the landlord). It should also stress that illegal activity, such as underage drinking or disorderly conduct, will result in immediate eviction proceedings.

Don’t be afraid to use specific language in the lease agreement that clarifies that use and possession of alcohol is permitted in the privacy of the rental property. Specify that “keggers” and parties involving large amounts of alcoholic beverages and include large numbers of people and an excessive amount of noise are strictly prohibited.

3. Follow Through on Lease Violations

When you discover that a large party has taken place on your Chico property or is currently in
progress, you can take action to ensure that the tenant will reap the consequences.

If the party is going on at the moment, you can call the police and they will come and take care of the situation. If there is any underage drinking going on or other illegal activity, the police can put an end to it and you can start eviction proceedings. Make sure you document the events, from the first phone call complaining about noise to what the police officer tells you.

If you decide to handle it yourself, make sure your tenant knows that you will call the police immediately if they and their guests do not stop immediately and leave the premises. Let the tenant know that this is an official warning and if it happens again you have no choice but to start the eviction process. Write up a few paragraphs of what happened and what you did about it and put it in the tenant’s file as a warning.

When you’ve decided that your tenant has violated the lease agreement, you can create an official notice for the tenant to vacate the property due to violation the lease agreement. Post the notice on the tenant’s door and also mail it to the tenant’s address. Begin the eviction process through the proper legal channels.

Using leverage of legitimate written threats of police action or eviction, you’ll send a message to partying tenants that you are serious about maintaining the quiet enjoyment of the property for neighbors and other tenants. You also show that you are interested in protecting your property from potential damage due to excessive partying.

Some Alternatives to Eviction in Butte County

evictionsEviction is a lengthy and complicated process, and probably a solution you’re reluctant to jump to when a resident is missing rent payments or violating the lease. Instead of beginning a long legal process to get renters out of your unit, there are alternative strategies you can use (that are not self-help evictions) to try take care of the situation before resorting to the eviction procedure. Double check what the necessary process for eviction is in your state to make sure you are in compliance with local Chico and Butte County laws. In our experience, evictions usually take 45-60 days, not to mention the time that passes before you start the eviction process. Here are a few more tools in our tool belt.

Talk With Your Residents First
How severe is the problem? Why do you feel they should move out or are breaching the lease agreement? If the issue is something besides missed rent payments, try to work out a solution with your resident. Plan to meet in a neutral location, and calmly explain the issue. Meeting in a neutral, public location makes it less likely for emotions to boil over or for one party to have the upper hand. Sometimes, residents may not realize how they’re violating the lease or damaging the home. If they’re understanding of the situation, try to come to an agreement about the situation and solve the problem.

Send a Legal Notice or Official 3 Day to Pay Rent or Quit
When multiple written warnings just aren’t spurring your residents into action, sometimes a legal notice from a local Chico attorney will do the trick to ‘scare’ them into good behavior. We have recommendations if you need a few names. The letter should explain the issue, how it’s in violation of the lease agreement, and the legal actions that could follow if there is no compliance. A legal notice, if effective, can prevent you from having to initiate an actual eviction.

Work Towards Finding an Alternative to Eviction
Perhaps your resident is unable to pay the rent because they’ve lost their job, owe medical bills, or can’t afford to move. Do you have a smaller, cheaper unit they could move into, or are you willing to lower the rent if they help you with maintenance tasks on your property? Approaching your resident with these solutions shows that you’re understanding of their situation, and they may be more willing to cooperate with you as a result. Include an addendum to your lease to reflect the agreement. Work out a payment plan, but be careful if you accept anything less than full rent, it may make eviction even longer if you do decided to go that route.

Paying them to leave aka Cash for Keys
If worst comes to worst, and you really want to prevent eviction if you can help it, a solution is to pay your resident to move out. If a renter can’t afford to move, or flat out refuses to move despite neglecting rent payments, offer a sum of money or forgive one month’s rent in exchange for an agreement to move out. Make sure you inspect the unit before the move-out, and get the agreement signed by your resident before the money is exchanged.

For specific advice or to schedule your own no obligation property consultation, drop us a note.