• There is a new law that became effective on January 1, 2016 which states that if an owner or an owner’s agent applies any pesticide to a dwelling unit without using a licensed pest control company or operator, the owner must provide a 24 hour notice to the tenant(s) of that dwelling which contains specific, required wording and information (Section 1940.8.5 of the California Civil Code).  AOA members may download AOA’s form #153 – Notice of Use of Pesticide by Landlord by going to the forms section at http://www.aoausa.com/forms
    • There is a new law that became effective on January 1, 2016 which states that if an owner or an owner’s agent applies any pesticide to a dwelling unit without using a licensed pest control company or operator, the owner must provide a 24 hour notice to the tenant(s) of that dwelling which contains specific, required wording and information.  (Section 1940.8.5 of the California Civil Code).  AOA members may download AOA’s form #153 – Notice of Use of Pesticide by Landlord by going to the forms section at http://www.aoausa.com/forms? 
    • A landlord must disclose to a new applicant if there was a death in the unit and the manner of the death UNLESS it was due to HIV or AIDS for three years from the death of the previous renter. (CA CC §1710.2). 
    • With your security deposit refund accounting, you must include receipts or paid invoices if deductions made were $126 or more.  If the deductions for repairs and cleaning together do not exceed one hundred twenty-five dollars ($125) – you do not have to send receipts. (Mail AOA’s form #133 – Security Deposit Refund Letter within 21 days after the move-out date). 
    • California law (CC §1719) limits the amount you can charge for the first bounced check at $25.00.  You may charge $35 for each bounced check thereafter. You may also request the tenant pays the next three months’ rent in cashier’s check, money order or cash. (Use AOA’s form #138 – Notice for Rent to Be Paid in Cash Only.) 
    • A resident manager is considered an employee requiring an employment agreement as well as a rental agreement. You must pay Social Security and payroll taxes to meet your obligations as an employer. To avoid possible lawsuits, be sure to have your manager turn in weekly time sheets showing hours worked.  (Use AOA’s form #119A – Resident Manager Monthly Time Report.) 
    • When a tenant breaks a fixed-term lease – you can deduct reasonable advertising expenses incurred in finding a new renter from the tenant’s security deposit. 
    • Customarily, normal business hours to make repairs are considered to be 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Monday through Friday. You may however, add to your rental agreement specific hours that work for you – including Saturdays, for example – 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. 
    • If you turn down and do not rent to an applicant – you must do so in writing.(CC § 1785.3Use AOA’s form #140 – the Tenant Rejection Notice – also know as the “adverse action” notice.
    • Federal Law requires you to give all new tenants of buildings built before 1978 a copy of the EPA Lead Booklet – “Protect Your Family from Lead in Your Home” and the tenant should initial the Rental Agreement stating that they received it.  (Available online in the forms alphabetical list at http://www.aoausa.com/forms)
    • When you accept a “screening fee” from an applicant, you must give them a written receipt for those fees. (CC § 1950.6) Use AOA’s form # 147 – Receipt of Application Screening Fee.
    • If you mail a notice to increase the rent instead of personally delivering it, you must give the tenant an extra five days notice.  For example, you must give a 35-day notice for a 10% or less increase in rent and a 65-day notice if the increase exceeds 10%. (Civil Code Sections 827(b)(1)(B),(2),(3); Code of Civil Procedure Section 1013.)
    • Late fees and non-sufficient fund fees SHOULD NOT be included on a 3-Day Notice to Pay Rent or Move-Out.  The proper form to collect these fees is AOA’s form #104 – 3-Day Notice to Cure the Violation or Move-Out.  Note: A granted “grace period” only applies to late fees – and does not extend the actual date rent is due. 
    • Interest on Security Deposits (required by several cities) must be paid to tenants ONCE A YEAR – and not just upon move-out.  Cities that require interest to be paid vary as to “when” they must be paid.  Some must be paid on the tenant’s move-in anniversary date and some (such as Los Angeles) simply state “once a year”. Know if and when yours is due and pay it annually. 
    • If you don’t complete a Move-In Property Condition Inspection Checklist with new tenants, it will be harder to prove damages and charge their security deposit upon move-out.  Always conduct this inspection with new tenants.  (Use AOA’s form #131 – Move-In / Move-Out Inspection Checklist.) 
    • When a tenant is vacating a unit – you should perform two inspections.  AB2330 requires a “pre-inspection” which must be conducted no sooner than two weeks PRIOR to the tenant’s move-out date – CC §1950.5(f) and a “final inspection” – conducted on the move-out day. The purpose of the “pre-inspection” is to inform the vacating tenants which items need addressing.  This allows them to clean and/or make those repairs before move-out to avoid charges to their security deposit.  (AOA’s form #135, the AB2330 Walk-Through / Initial Move-Out Inspection has instructions and forms for completing the “pre-inspection”.) 
    • Note:  AOA Members may download forms for FREE  by visiting the forms section, at http://www.aoausa.com/forms  

    Patricia A. Harris is Senior Editor of the Apartment Owners News and Buyers Guide.  This article is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as legal advice. AOA recommends contacting an attorney with any legal questions.