When you’re renting out a property in Healdsburg, there are long lists of rules and regulations that you must follow in order to be compliant with the law. California has been traditionally considered a tenant-friendly state. Tenants are educated and they understand their rights.
As a landlord, you have rights, too. You also have a lot of responsibilities, and you’re expected to know the laws and follow them. Today, we’re discussing some of the most important legal issues you need to be aware of when you’re managing your own Healdsburg rental home.
Fair Housing and Discrimination
There’s the federal Fair Housing Act, which you need to follow, and then there are the California fair housing laws, which are even stricter. You’re not permitted to discriminate against any current or potential tenants based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status, gender or sexual identity, immigration status, and source of income.
While you may not intentionally set out to discriminate against prospective tenants, it’s easy to be perceived as discriminating, especially if you use certain phrases in your marketing materials or if you don’t have a written and consistent screening process. Make sure everything is in writing and that you handle every tenant the same way as you handle all your other tenants.
Discrimination is a hot topic lately. You are required to make accommodations for tenants who have physical or intellectual disabilities. This might mean a wheelchair ramp, a shower bar, or a support animal even if you have a strict no-pet policy. The law does not see service and support animals as pets. They are considered accommodations, and you have to allow them. You cannot charge pet deposits or pet fees and you cannot restrict breeds.
Rent Control and Just Cause Eviction
We’re going to talk further about rent control and just cause evictions in a later blog, but what you need to know is that California is moving rapidly towards rent control throughout the state. This has been under consideration for many years, but with the recent fires that damaged a lot of property and drastically reduced the inventory of affordable housing, the state is dealing with greedy landlords who want to drive up rents dramatically to cover their insurance costs.
A Declaration of Emergency was declared on October 9, 2017, and landlords are not permitted to raise their rents more than 10 percent of what the rent was before the emergency was declared.
Just cause evictions are also becoming the latest requirement for California landlords. You cannot evict a tenant unless the tenant is not paying rent, creating a nuisance, or engaging in illegal activities in your property.
California Security Deposit Laws
There are a lot of laws pertaining to how you collect and return a security deposit. This is the area of the law where landlords are often most vulnerable, and it’s usually where a dispute will occur between landlords and their tenants.
You cannot charge more than two times the monthly rent as a security deposit. When it’s time to return that deposit, you are permitted to charge for damage that’s beyond normal wear and tear and any unpaid rent or utility bills. Make sure you can prove the damage and make sure you return all or part of the deposit with an itemized statement of what was withheld in the proper time period.
Remember also that you’re required to offer tenants a pre move-out inspection.
It’s easy to make an expensive mistake when it comes to California landlord and tenant laws. For help, contact us at Healdsburg Property Management. We know the laws well, and we work hard to stay up to date.