Tag Archives: for tenants

How to Add a Roommate onto a Rental Agreement

roommates-moving-in-horizAs a Chico Landlord or property manager, you will find it extremely common to have to modify leases and rental agreements to accommodate your tenants. Sometimes you are asked to remove a tenant because they have to move away, other times you may need to add on a tenant.

Roommate Dynamics-

You will find that roommate changes happen very frequently in this college town. The in- and outflow of students can be a bit overwhelming at times. However, it is a fact of life and a part of the business. Roommates who grew up together and have been friends for decades may find that they cannot live together now that they are out on their own. They may argue loudly and bother your other tenants or they may have physical altercations that put other tenants at risk of bodily injury.

Behind on Rent-

A roommate may also have difficulty paying rent. It is far better to allow that tenant to vacate than to have the entire renal unit go vacant. This is where knowing your tenants and knowing how to negotiate plays a huge role in keeping your rental units occupied.

Finding Roommates-

Suggest to the tenant that remains that they can advertise in common areas that they are seeking a new roommate. They can also advertise on campus and in the newspaper. You can certainly help them find a roommate to replace his old roomie.

Sublet options-

Of course, in a college town, you are also faced with the very high probability that many of your tenants will want to return home for the summer vacation, leaving you with a lot of vacancies. This, of course, is why rental agreements and leases in college towns are 12 months long rather than 9 months long so you get the assurance of those 3 summer months of full rent.

This is not to say that your tenants won’t go home anyway. You can earn a lot of good will simply by suggesting to your college-age tenants who want to return home that they find people they can sublet their rental to. This is a common practice in towns and cities that have thousands of college-aged students.

The concept is quite simple: As a landlord or property manager, you can consent to a subleasing agreement between your tenant and his subtenant. You can absolutely also decline. Your tenant is still financially responsible for all rent that is owed to you and he will be held liable for any non-payment.

However, you will be better off in the long run if you help your tenants find subtenants. They will most likely return when school starts up again. You will also get the benefit of having an occupied apartment for the three months that your tenants are gone. You may be amazed at how quickly an apartment unit goes downhill when nobody is in it. You will have way more maintenance and cleaning to do if you do not fill the space with a subtenant.

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.

Common Staging Misakes

Home staging is a useful tool to control the message as you market your property. By taking the livingroomtime to declutter and rearrange furniture, you’ll position yourself to attract the largest pool of potential renters possible. Improve your listing photos, showing success, and quality of applicants by staging your property to play to its strengths. Here are some common staging mis
takes that can throw off the look and feel of a space, and easy solutions to fix them.

There’s not enough light.

Good lighting makes a space look inviting, attractive, and comfortable. Bad lighting also results in low-quality listing photos. Improve the look and feel of the rooms on your property by making sure there light sources in each room. While windows that let in natural light are ideal, you can improve the lighting in the room by adding an overhead light or a smaller lamp.

The furniture is the wrong size.

Oversized furniture in a small room will make the area look even more cramped and awkward. Prevent the room from looking off-balance by measuring the space before bringing in the furniture. In large rooms, don’t be afraid to place couches and chairs away from the walls and grouped together to make the room look cozier. If you have dark furniture, using light-colored slipcovers makes large or heavy items seem smaller. You can also remove a piece or two to lighten up the space.

Weirdly positioned artwork

Hanging artwork on the walls is an easy solution to keep a room from feeling too bare and sterile. Similar to having furniture in listing photos, the placement of artwork gives viewers a better feel for the size of the room and the amount of space relative to the objects. However, art that’s in the wrong place can look strange or even give a false impression of the space. A large frame in a smaller space, such as a bathroom wall or narrow corner, can make the room feel even more cramped. Art that’s hung too high or isn’t large enough (like a frame above the sofa) can make the space look awkward.

Instead of going out and buying a large canvas, hang your art displays to scale by decorating with a gallery wall and making sure the size of the artwork is the right scale for the items around it. Help your art blend in and add to the décor by hanging the canvas so that the center of the piece is at eye level.

There’s no texture.

Keep your rooms from looking dull by adding color and texture. Remember that not everything needs to match. A fruit bowl on the counter, throw blanket on the couch, or basket on a shelf adds texture and dimension. Focus less on everything ‘matching’ and being from the same period or style – instead, don’t be afraid to mix things up and go with what you think looks good.

How to Get Rid of Ants in Your Chico Property

Ants-II-iStock_As a property owner, you are always looking for ways to reduce your expenses to get rid of ants.  Some landlords are way too quick to just call for help when they could very easily do it themselves or find an alternative solution.

Here’s some helpful advice when it comes to dealing with ants:

Ants Don’t Like the Heat

Ants tend to make their way indoors during times of excessive heat, so there’s not always a whole lot you can do at this point.  Spraying for ants might not work since nature will continue to drive them inside.Normally, you get ants because they are looking for a food source or water.  But if the heat is what’s driving them inside, they’re going to keep coming and there’s not a lot you can do to get rid of ants.

Keep Your Food Sealed

This might seem like an obvious one but if you’re experiencing trouble with ants, make sure that you put all your food in plastic containers or ziploc bags around the kitchen area.  Ants especially love sugary substances so make sure that you wipe down and clean up any juice spills or dirty dishes.

Dry Them Out

If ants can’t eat or drink, they will tend to die off or move on.  One tip that really works well to get rid of ants is to make sure your sink area is completely dry once you’re done cooking or cleaning dishes.  That way, the ants won’t have anything to drink and they’ll have to find water somewhere else, hopefully outside of your house.

Ant Traps and Spray

Ants are pretty dumb but apparently not quite dumb enough to walk right into an ant trap.  Bug spray works pretty well but you have to be careful spraying that stuff around your kitchen area. Try and avoid spraying on surfaces that you will be eating off of.  Spraying in cracks or corners where you won’t ever place food is always best.  Find the entry and exit points and try to spray there too.

Hopefully, all these efforts will combine to help you get rid of ants in your Chico rental property!

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!

 

Water Preservation and Lawn Upkeep for Summer Months

garden-hoseChico summers tend to bring with them high temperatures and ample humidity—both of which can take their toll, not just on homeowners but on their lawns and gardens, to say nothing of their utility bills. In fact, many homeowners throughout the country find that their water bills increase significantly over the summer months, especially if irrigation systems are in use to keep lawns lush and green. However there are some simple yet effective steps homeowners can take to reduce water waste.

One way to conserve water during the hot summer months is to implement the correct lawn and garden tools. For instance, a standard hose and nozzle will lead to copious amounts of wasted water—including water that’s lost as mist or as runoff. Instead, homeowners should water their grass and their plants with a soaker hose or a sprinkler wand.

Of course, overwatering is another cause of wasted water. Generally speaking, lawns need about an inch of water each week to survive, though in Chico a full two inches might be more appropriate. The best rule of thumb is to keep the soil lightly moist, and also to keep eyes open for signs of wilting—but to avoid simply watering the lawn past the point of necessity. A related tip is to avoid soaking the plant’s leaves or watering past its root zone; this is simply a waste, and does little or nothing to help the plant stay hydrated.

Mulching is encouraged, as it helps plants to retain moisture—homeowners should regularly inspect mulch for crusting-over, breaking up these crusts with a rake. Crusted mulch actually prevents moisture from reaching the soil, which can in turn lead to wasted water.

A final tip for homeowners eager to keep their lawn and garden water waste to a minimum: Water in the mornings. Watering when it is still relatively cool outside prevents there being too much water lost to evaporation. Watering in the evenings or at night is also acceptable, but runs the risk of fungus formation.

house-cleaning

It’s Spring Cleaning Time!!

house-cleaningDespite the chill that still lingers in the air, spring is here! The infamous “Spring Cleaning” time is upon us!

Spring cleaning is no small task, though. In fact, it can often turn into a huge beast of a project that some of us may give up on. To make your spring cleaning adventure a little less painful, here a few tips to help you tackle that dusty house or apartment.

Make a List of What Needs to be cleaned in Each Room

Making lists will help you stay organized – especially if there’s a huge project, like spring cleaning, on your plate. Before get started, walk through each room and write down what needs to get done. Writing a list out also helps make sure you have all the cleaning materials you need before getting started, saving tons of time later. It’s a pain in the butt when you have to stop everything to run out and buy more carpet cleaning solution, this way you have all the tools you need to start and finish your spring cleaning!

Make Your Playlist

Having a cleaning playlist that includes all your favorite music will get you pumped and bring a little fun into your cleaning! Listening to music while cleaning just seems to make things go by faster. Of course, you don’t have to make a playlist; you could always just turn the radio on to your favorite station. Get your groove on!

Get a Trash and Donate Box/Bag

As you go through each room, make sure to de-clutter. Throw away old magazines and papers from the previous year. Put items you no longer use or need, like that book you bought 10 years ago but never read, in the donate box. Once you’re done cleaning your whole house, itemize your donate pile because you may be able to deduct those donations on your taxes. You can also make a trip to Walmart to Target and pick up a few cheap organizing boxes to store those annoying loose papers or random things around your house. Having organizer boxes:

  1. Is a super fun way to bring in your creativity and personal touch to your place
  2. Will help you find what you are looking for faster
  3. Will help you de-clutter in a fashionable and classy way
  4. Will make you feel better when everything is in its place!

Work on One Room at a Time

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you want to clean your entire home all at once. Try writing down all the rooms in your home on a piece of paper and checking each one off as you go. If you can work on at least two or three rooms each weekend, you’ll get a lot more done and still have free time on the side.

Set an Amount of Time to Work on Each Room.

It’s easy to get distracted: you might find yourself looking at items that have been forgotten or old photographs, and before you know it you’ve spent the entire day cleaning just one single room. Set a timer so you don’t fall into this trap. You can also use the timer to give yourself a little break here and there. Much like a list, it can help keep you on track.

Recruit People to Help You

What’s makes cleaning more fun? When you don’t have to do it alone! Recruit your kids, significant other or roommates to help you out. Recruiting people to help clean takes about half the amount of time than doing it yourself; plus then you get to have a dance partner!

Start From the Top and Work Your Way Down

This is just the law of gravity – clean from the top of the ceiling to the floor. Knock all the dusty cobwebs from the corner, wash the curtains, clean the windows, dust the furniture, vacuum the furniture and finally vacuum the floor.

Use Natural Cleaners

Many chemical-based cleaners emit hazardous fumes. Some cleaners when mixed together can even emit toxic fumes that can seriously hurt you. Vinegar is a great substitute to use in your bathroom or kitchen and as a general household cleaning solution.

Be Patient

It’s the golden rule to work smarter, not harder. Take your time and let grimy surfaces, like the ones in your bathroom and kitchen, soak in your cleaning solution. Work on something else on your list while your cleaner does the hard work.

Reward Yourself at The End

Having something to look forward to at the end of a long day of cleaning sure makes things go a lot faster. Plus, you worked hard and deserve it. Treat yourself!

OK, so these ideas won’t make all the dirt magically disappear, but the tips above can make the process a little less agonizing. Just remember to pace yourself. You don’t have to do everything in one day.