Archive for December, 2014

Accurate Credit Bureau California Landlord Tenant Law Leases and Applications

California Landlord Tenant Rental Law

For professional California rental leases and rental applications go to http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html

Security Deposit:

Security Deposit Maximum: Two months’ rent for unfurnished dwellings; 3 months’ rent if furnished dwellings. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5 and 1940.5g)
Security Deposit Interest: No state-wide statute, but 15 (or so) localities have rent control ordinances that require you to pay interest, including Los Angeles. (reference)
Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No Statute
Pet Deposits and Additional Non-Refundable Fees: Not Allowed (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5m)
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 21 days (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g)
Security Deposit can be Withheld: (handbook)
For unpaid rent;
For cleaning the rental unit when the tenant moves out, but only to make the unit as clean as it was when the tenant first moved in;
For repair of damages, other than normal wear and tear, caused by the tenant or the tenant’s guests; and
If the lease or rental agreement allows it, for the cost of restoring or replacing furniture, furnishings, or other items of personal property (including keys), other than because of normal wear and tear.
Require Written Description/Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes. Receipts and documentation not needed to accompany the itemized list of repairs if repairs and cleaning cost less than $126. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5g 4A)
Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No Statute
Failure to Comply: A bad faith claim or retention by a landlord may subject the landlord to statutory damages of up to twice the amount of the security, in addition to actual damages. (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(l))
Lease, Rent & Fees:

Rent is Due: Unless there is a contract to the contrary, and the lease is for less than one year, rent is due at the end of the month. Most leases state that rent is due at the beginning of the month. (Civ. Code §§ 1947) and (Civ. Code §§ 1962)
Rent Increase Notice: 30 days if rent increase is less than 10 percent of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. 60 days if rent increase is more than 10 percent of the lowest amount of rent charged during the last 12 months. (Civ. Code §§ 827(b)(2-3))
Late Fees: Allowed, but they must be “reasonable” and obey rent control laws, and are only enforceable if specified in the lease. (handbook)
Prepaid Rent: Landlord is allowed to collect one month’s pre-paid rent (first month’s rent) plus two or three months’ security deposit. (handbook)
Returned Check Fees: Equal to the actual bank fee. Or landlord can charge a flat “service” fee which is $25 for the first occurrence, and $35 for each occurrence thereafter. (handbook)
Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): Yes, because the property is under the “implied warranty of habitability.” (handbook)
Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but not more than the cost of one month’s rent, and tenant cannot use this remedy more than twice in a 12-month period. (Civ. Code §§ 1942)
Landlord Allowed to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 789.3d)
Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Mitigate Damages to Lessee, including an Attempt to Rerent: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1951.2)
Notices and Entry:

Notice to Terminate Tenancy – Fixed End Date in Lease: No notice is needed as the lease simply expires. I recommend giving 60 days notice anyway.
Notice to Terminate Any Periodic Lease of a Year or More – If ALL tenants have lived there longer than a year, the landlord is required to give 60 days notice. (handbook)
Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Month-to-Month: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give 30 days notice. (Civ. Code §§ 1946)
Notice to Terminate a Periodic Lease – Week-to-week: Landlord is required to give 30 days notice. Tenant is required to give seven days notice. (handbook)
Notice to Terminate Lease due to Sale of Property: 30 days notice if ALL of the following are true: (Civ. Code §§ 1946.1) (handbook)
The landlord has contracted to sell the rental unit to another person who intends to occupy it for at least a year after the tenancy ends.
The landlord must have opened escrow with a licensed escrow agent or real estate broker, and
The landlord must have given 30-day notice no later than 120 days after opening escrow, and
The landlord must not previously have given you a 30-day or 60-day notice, and
The rental unit must be one that can be sold separately from any other dwelling unit. (For example, a house or a condominium can be sold separately from another dwelling unit.)
Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: 48 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1950.5(f))
Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: Three days (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(2))
Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: Three days to remedy lease violation or landlord can file eviction (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(3)). Landlord can also terminate the lease for subletting without permission or illegal activity on the premise. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161(4))
Required Notice before Entry: 24 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): 24 hours (Civ. Code §§ 1954a)
Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: Yes (Civ. Code §§ 1954b)
Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No (Civ. Code §§ 1954)
Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
Lockouts Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3b(1))
Utility Shut-offs Allowed: No (Civ. Code §§ 789.3a)
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

Landlord Must Accept First Qualified Applicant – The 2012 Fair Housing Handbook of California says on page 24, “The landlord should take the time to check out the information and make a selection based on the first qualified applicant(s),” although there is no statute to support this. It’s recommended but not law.
Copy of Lease: Provide a copy of the rental agreement or lease to the tenant within 15 days of its execution by the tenant. (Civ. Code §§ 1962(4))
Utilities: Landlord must disclose if utilities that service tenant’s unit also service other areas (such as common foyers), and disclose the manner in which costs will be fairly divided up. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.9) Landlord must also provide a formula for dividing up utilities when utilities are split among multiple tenants.
San Francisco Utilities: Landlords must provide heat that can maintain a room temperature of 68 degrees. This level of heat must be provided for at least 13 hours, specifically from 5-11 AM and 3-10 PM.
Move-In Condition: Landlord is not required to provide a Move-In Condition Checklist for the Tenants to complete. However, it is recommended and extremely helpful should you ever go to court over physical damages to the dwelling.
Mold: Landlord must disclose, prior to lease signing, knowledge of any mold in the dwelling that exceeds safety limits or poses a health concern. Landlord must distribute a State Department of Health Services consumer handbook. (Health & Safety Code §§ 26147)
Demolishment: If a landlord or agent has applied for a permit to demolish a rental unit, the landlord must provide written notice to prospective tenants before accepting any money. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.6)
Ordinances: Landlord must disclose the locations of former ordinances in the neighborhood. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.7)
Sexual Offenders: Landlords are required to include the following language in the lease:
“Notice: Pursuant to Section 290.46 of the Penal Code, information about specified registered sex offenders is made available to the public via an Internet Web site maintained by the Department of Justice at http://www.meganslaw.ca.gov. Depending on an offender’s criminal history, this information will include either the address at which the offender resides or the community of residence and zip code in which he or she resides.” (Civ. Code §§ 2079.10a)
Pests Disclosures: At lease signing, Landlord must disclose any pests control contracts or disclosures received by pest control companies. If the premise is being treated for pests, landlord must disclose the pesticides used and their active ingredients, and any warnings associated with them. (Civ. Code §§ 1940.8, and Business and Professional Code §§ 8538)
Smoking: If the landlord limits or prohibits smoking, landlord must include a clause that specifies the areas on or in the premise where smoking is prohibited. (Civ. Code §§ 1947.5)
Proof of Domestic Violence Status: Landlord is entitled to proof/documentation of domestic violence status of the tenant if the tenant claims they are a victim. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5, 1941.6, 1941.7)
Locks: Landlords must change the locks if requested by a domestic violence victim and proof of court order is given. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.5 and 1941.6)
Special Treatment: A victim may terminate a lease with 30 days notice and proof of victim status. (Civ. Code §§ 1941.7) A landlord cannot end or refuse to renew a tenancy based upon the fact that tenant or a member of tenant’s household is a victim of a documented act of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking. (Civ. Procedure Code §§ 1161.3)
Abandoned Property: The rules are lengthy and specific, please read Civ. Code §§ 1965, 1980 to 1991.
Retaliation: Landlord must not terminate or refuse to renew a lease to a tenant who has filed an official complaint to a Government Authority, been involved in a tenant’s organization, or exercised a legal right. Courts will assume “retaliation” by landlord if negative action is taken on the tenant within 180 days (six months) after any of the prior tenant actions. (Civ. Code §§ 1942.5) It will also be considered retaliation if the landlord acts negatively within six months after any of the following:
Using the repair and deduct remedy, or telling the landlord that the tenant will use the repair and deduct remedy.
Complaining about the condition of the rental unit to the landlord, or to an appropriate public agency after giving the landlord notice.
Filing a lawsuit or beginning arbitration based on the condition of the rental unit.
Causing an appropriate public agency to inspect the rental unit or to issue a citation to the landlord.

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Accurate Credit Bureau Texas Rental Laws

We are going to start with Texas (since our headquarters is in Texas) and post State by State Law daily…

Texas Rental Lease Law

Security Deposit:

Security Deposit Maximum: No statute
Security Deposit Interest: No statute
Separate Security Deposit Bank Account: No statute
Pet Deposits and Additional Fees: No statute
Deadline for Returning Security Deposit: 30 days
Require Written Description / Itemized List of Damages and Charges: Yes
Record Keeping of Deposit Withholdings: No statute
Lease, Rent & Fees:

Rent Increase Notice: No Statute
Late Fees: Reasonable amount allowed
Returned Check Fees: No statute
Tenant Allowed to Withhold Rent for Failure to Provide Essential Services (Water, Heat, etc.): No Statute
Tenant Allowed to Repair and Deduct Rent: Yes, but not more than 1 month’s rent or $500. Tenant must give prior notice to Landlord.
Landlord Allow to Recover Court and Attorney’s Fees: Yes
Termination due to Public Indecency: Immediate
Subletting: Prohibited without prior consent
Landlord Must Make a Reasonable Attempt to Re-rent if Tenant Vacates: Yes
Notices and Entry:

Notice to Terminate a Lease – Yearly Lease: at least 1 month
Notice to Terminate a Lease – Month-to-Month: at least 1 month but tenant and landlord can make agreements in writing that differ from this.
Notice of date/time of Move-Out Inspection: No statute
Eviction Notice for Nonpayment: 3 days to pay or move-out – Landlord can file for eviction 3 days after notice is received.
Eviction Notice for Lease Violation: No Statute
Required Notice before Entry: No Statute
Entry Allowed with Notice for Maintenance and Repairs (non-emergency): No Statute
Entry Allowed During Tenant’s Extended Absence: No Statute
Notice to Tenants for Pesticide Use: No Statute
Emergency Entry Allowed without Notice: No Statute
Disclosures and Miscellaneous Notes:

Landlord must identify, in writing, the name and address of the property owner.
Landlord must identify, in writing, the name and address of the property manager.
Landlord can remove personal property of a tenant who has abandoned the property 30 days after sending postmarked certified notice, and if no one has claimed the items. (Sec. 92.014.5)
Landlord must inform the Tenant, in writing, that they have the right to “Repair and deduct or the option to terminate the lease”, if the Landlord fails to make repairs that directly affect the health or safety of an ordinary tenant.
Landlord must inform the Tenant, in writing, that they may break a lease early in special circumstances involving sexual assault, sexual abuse, or domestic violence.
Landlords can require tenants to provide proof of domestic violence status before releasing tenants from a lease.
Court Related:

Small Claims Court Limits: $10,000
Collection agents or agencies, money brokers, and moneylenders are not allowed to use in small claims court.
Business Licenses:

Business License required: No state-wide statute, but local cities and counties may have regulations and requirements. Check with your local governing authority.

To download a rental lease or rental application go to http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html

To screen a prospective tenant go to http://www.accuratecredit.com

Parolee Accused Of Robbing Mother’s Landlord After Rent Paid « CBS Chicago

Parolee Accused Of Robbing Mother’s Landlord After Rent Paid « CBS Chicago.

Accurate Credit Bureau launches services to screen bad tenants

Watch out for bad tenants. Accurate Credit Bureau has launched services to help landlords weed out horrible tenants.
Former landlord referrals can be a waste of time, since a tenant can just give you the contact information of a friend to play their landlord. Or, landlords ready to get rid of their horrible tenants might just want to get rid of a problem by saying that the tenant was okay. You may run a comprehensive background check at http://www.accuratecredit.com which contains credit and background information as well as an eviction report.
Important Decisions Demand Accurate Information

Accurate Credit Bureau Happy Holidays

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah from us to you…

Accurate Credit Landlords Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Your Tenants!

After a lengthy bed bug infestation twenty-one tenants are suing their landlord in Concord, California. Residents have long complained that the apartment building was infested with bed bugs, along with a host of other pests and utility problems. However, little has been done by their local government to help them. Despite California state law mandating that the landlord is responsible for fixing infestation issues, the residents were unable to get code enforcers to help them out. Now the dispute involves city and county officials trying to determine who is responsible for getting the landlord to comply.

Local news report videos show the horrific extent of the infestation, from live bed bugs crawling on window drapes to stains left on the ceiling of apartments. The residents have been able to get a tenants advocacy organization to help them sue, but while they proceed with their case the infestation is still ongoing. In this case many conventional bedbug treatments haven’t been enough to help: tenants have had their apartments treated by a pest control agency numerous times, and many have used encasement’s on their mattresses and other furniture to try and mitigate the problem. Unfortunately, if all apartments in the building aren’t treated at the same time it’s all too easy for bed bugs to re-infest other units.

What You Can Do
If your apartment or condominium is infested we recommend taking the following steps:

Look up local landlord/tenant law to see if your landlord is responsible for providing treatment. You can also check this list of state bed bug laws.

Document the problem. Take pictures of any signs of infestation, and complain to your landlord in writing (with a copy for yourself).

Accurate Credit Dealing with Problem Tenants

A landlord shared with us the difficulty she is currently experiencing with a tenant who just moved out.  Although she gave him proper notice and a cleaning checklist several weeks in advance, when she tried to hold him accountable for the poor condition of the property when he moved out, the tenant threatened to sue her.

Now, his parents have gotten into the fray, repeatedly emailing the landlord and leaving threatening phone messages.  They say they’ve hired a lawyer and will take her to court.

This landlord is not alone.  Many others have experienced concern that a tenant will find some way to “get even” with them, including calling in building inspectors, law enforcement authorities, or lawyers when the tenant doesn’t have a leg to stand on. These tenants are trying to intimidate the landlord in order to keep a security deposit, live rent-free or otherwise violate the lease agreement.

Landlords don’t have to tolerate harassment, intimidation or threats from tenants.

If a tenant threatens you with legal action, ask to speak with the attorney they claim is representing them.  Get the lawyer’s phone number and give them a call. Lawyers have an ethical obligation to follow the law, and cannot encourage a tenant to pursue a course of action that is not justified. Chances are, the attorney will speak to you more respectfully, making it easier to resolve the problem.  Ask for information from the attorney in writing.

In all likelihood, there is no attorney, and the threat is empty.

In that case, make it clear to the tenant or person harassing you that you will not tolerate any further communications unless in writing.

If the harassment continues, or if at any time you fear for your safety, the safety of others or your property, report the behavior to the police. Keep a record of all communications with the tenant and any one else acting on their behalf.

As a landlord, you hold a serious legal threat of your own –the tenant needs you to give them a reference if they are going to rent again. You can remind them of this fact, but use a non-confrontational manner.

It is not appropriate for the landlord to use idle threats, or profanity, when dealing with problem tenants. If the matter does wind up in court, the judge will look more favorably upon the landlord who remained professional and did not escalate the dispute.

Maintaining a high level of professionalism from the outset if one of the best ways to avoid aggressive tenants.  Tenants respect landlords who lay down the law:

Always require a completed Rental Application. You can download a free one at http://www.accuratecredit.com/html/freerentalapplications.html

Conduct a thorough Tenant Background check http://www.accuratecredit.com  including a credit report, a criminal background check and an eviction report to determine if this applicant has displayed inappropriate behavior in the past. You can order a comprehensive background check that includes those and more http://www.accuratecredit.com

Call the previous landlord to obtain a reference.

Provide specific rules regarding how the property will be kept during the tenancy.

Complete a Move-In Inspection Report with photos or videos of the condition of the property.

End the tenancy with a walk-through and Move-Out Inspection report, with photos or videos of the condition of the property.