It’s sad to say, but one of the fears on every Landlord’s mind is the thought of a lawsuit. In this article, we will review the five most common types of lawsuits against landlords. Hopefully, with this information, you can avoid some of these challenges with your own rentals.
NOT KNOWING AND FOLLOWING YOUR STATE AND FEDERAL LAW. Almost every North County city has its own rental ordinances that need to be followed. And, the state of California and the federal government also have specific regulations. Apartment owners are usually up to date on new rental legislation because they get direct mailings from the city, but owners of rental homes do not. Local housing departments simply do not identify and inform landlords of rental homes and 2-4 unit properties when it comes to new rental ordinances.
Learn about federal, state, and local regulations. Understand them, follow them. Call our office if you have any questions, because we are familiar with all of them.
SECURITY DEPOSIT RETURNS. This is when a tenant moves out of your property and you need to calculate and return the tenant’s security deposit. Here are the basics:
- Must be damage, not wear and tear
- Itemize the deductions
- Provide invoices or receipts for any deductions
- Provide good faith estimates if you do not have an invoice
- Must be mailed within 21 days of tenant move out
MAINTENANCE/HEALTH ISSUES. We often receive phone calls from self-managing landlords who simply have let their home slip from good condition to average, or even below-average condition. Reasons range from disputes with the tenant, inability to get access, or just plain neglect. Issues such as mold, bedbugs, and other types of deferred maintenance are lawsuits waiting to happen. Take maintenance and repair requests seriously; address repairs quickly and properly. Always thoroughly inspect your home annually. If your rent is too low, your tenant is going to often keep maintenance issues from you. They’re going to try to block you from inspecting the home. They don’t want repairs made because they don’t want their rent to increase. Often, this neglect can often lend to habitability or health issues. You don’t want any maintenance issues to potentially impact your tenant from a health standpoint.
ILLEGAL LEASE. I have seen a variety of leases downloaded from the Internet that do not comply with California rental laws. Generic leases have lease terms like payment of rent, late fees, maintenance, right to enter, and visiting the property often do not match up with the laws in California. Make sure your lease is compliant with California laws. Be sure to contact our office if you are uncertain as to whether your lease addresses the latest state laws.
VIOLATION OF QUIET ENJOYMENT/PRIVACY. There’s a concept called “quiet enjoyment” where you must give your tenant the right to enjoy the property without interruption. It’s your home, but you can’t just drop in as you might on your friend or neighbor. You must give them 24-hour notice. This is a big deal for landlords who sometimes come to the property when they shouldn’t; they barge in to make a fix or an improvement without approval from the tenant. Always be sure to properly provide notice to a tenant, so that you are not subject to a lawsuit.
If you or anyone you know needs help with property management, please feel free to call the talented and knowledgeable team at Broadpoint Properties.