Along with the ever-changing laws, AOA advisors encounter landlord situations that are overlooked, can be confusing, are sometimes neglected and have become very costly to many property owners.
It is our continuous goal to aid and support you in making this business of providing housing for others more profitable, easier and yes, more enjoyable. AOA wishes each and every one of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year and we look forward to being of service to you throughout the years to come!
Below is a compiled list of suggestions, new laws for 2013, regulations and standard requirements which landlords must follow to avoid trouble, stay out of court, and save money in unnecessary penalties.
1. For Los Angeles rent-controlled properties, be sure to have the required notice posted providing information about the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, as well as contact information for the Los Angeles Housing Department. Inspectors will be looking for these notices and you could be fined $250.00 per day if it is not posted. The notice must be the LAHD form that you may find at http://lahd.lacity.org/lahdinternet/Portals/0/Rent/RSO%20NOTICE%20(2).pdf and be posted in a conspicuous location in the lobby of the property, near a mailbox used by residents of the property, or in or near a public entrance to the property.
2. Pay Rent Registration and SCEP fees on time.
LOS ANGELES: Rent-controlled unit registration fees are due January 1st and delinquent if not paid by the last day of February. Late fees are applied to delinquent payments. If you do not receive your renewal notice by January 22nd, contact LAHD at (213) 808-8900.
SANTA MONICA: Owners who pay all outstanding registration fees by August 3rd may, with proper written notice, recover the registration fee from tenants at beginning September 1st. For more information, visit http://www01.smgov.net/rentcontrol/own_rent_sm/Owner_Info_2004.pdf.
WEST HOLLYWOOD: The registration fee is due on or before July 1st of each year. The penalty for late payment of the registration fee, depending upon when the fees and penalties are paid, may range from 20 to 100 percent of the annual fee. For more information on tenant pass-throughs, please visit http://www.weho.org.
3. Los Angeles Rent Control: On May 1, 2013 – Serve tenants the 30-Day Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Rent Registration one-time pass-through of half of your registration fees – to be collected in the month of June only. (This form will be printed in the April edition of the AOA Magazine and can also be downloaded by members at www.aoausa.com). SCEP fees may also be collected at this time as a rent adjustment, also with a 30 day notice. (Note: Delinquent fees cannot be passed through to tenants.) You are required to include a copy of your Rent Registration Certificate with your notice.
4. Prepare and sign a Written Employment Agreement with all of your resident managers.
5. Download and begin using AOA’s updated, “new and improved” Rental Agreement and/or Lease.
6. When negotiating a lease – speak in English and use an English rental agreement. If you and your tenant discuss the lease in Spanish, Chinese, Tagalong, Vietnamese or Korean, you must give the tenant an unsigned version of the rental lease in that language before asking him to sign. This rule does not apply if you present your English version only and the tenant has supplied his own translator who is not a minor and can speak AND read the particular language AND English fluently. Remember, if you use a Spanish rental agreement, all further notices served on the resident must also be in Spanish.
7. Make sure to offer all vacating tenants the AB2330 Walk Through Move-Out Inspection at least 15 days before tenant is due to move to avoid Small Claims court action and penalties on security deposit refunds.
8. Send all Security Deposit Refund Letters to vacated tenants within 21 days after move-out along with required receipts and proper interest payments. Failure to do so could cost you the entire security deposit plus substantial penalties. Be sure to include the payment of interest on security deposits in those jurisdictions that require it.
9. If you are not yet in compliance with the EPA’s Certified Renovator regulations, (RRP), put this on your immediate list of things to do. Follow all the rules of this one folks – financial penalties are now up to $37,500 per occurrence. Be sure to also give all new tenants a copy of the EPA Lead-Based Paint pamphlet with all leases and the Renovate Right pamphlet before commencing any work involving the disturbance of lead-based paint.
10. Always run credit, eviction and criminal reports with AOA BEFORE renting.
11. Send the required AOA “Tenant Rejection Notice” to all unaccepted applicants.
12. Prepare and plan ahead to replace plumbing fixtures with the required water-conserving fixtures before January 1, 2019. SB 407 will require all plumbing fixtures be replaced with water-conserving plumbing fixtures on or before January 1, 2019 for any residential, multifamily or commercial property. SB 407 also requires any building permit applicant to replace noncompliant plumbing fixtures with water-conserving ones as a condition to receive a certificate of final completion and occupancy or approval of a final building permit for any building alterations after January 1, 2014.
13. Carbon Monoxide Detectors should have been installed in all existing single-family dwelling units by January 1, 2013. If you haven’t already installed them – DO IT NOW!
Detector: According to the Senate bill, the detector must sound an audible warning once carbon monoxide is detected. It also must be powered by a battery, or if it is plugged in, have a battery for a backup. The detector also must be certified by national testing labs, such as the Underwriters Laboratories. The packaging on the carbon monoxide detector will state this. Carbon monoxide detectors typically can be purchased for about $20 and up.
Installation: Install one detector outside of all sleeping areas and one detector on each level, including basements.
14. Know and be in compliance with all Fair Housing Laws. Do not discriminate.
15. Test and maintain the working order of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
16. Save money with AOA’s Group Insurance Program. Contact our group insurance team today for YOUR FREE QUOTE at 800-227-7434 or email [email protected].
17. Go Green this year! Save money with a recycling program, increase your bottom line by replacing burnt out incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs. (CFL) or save money by using Energy Star appliances. You may qualify for rebates or federal tax credits. For more information, visit http://www.energystar.gov/index.cfm?c=tax_credits.tx_index.
18. Serve all 3-Day Pay or Move-Out notices the day after unpaid rent is due. Do not wait until the tenant is months behind in payment. Do not include late fees in the 3-Day Notice as that will nullify proper service.
19. Do not request only cash or electronic payments of rent. Tenants are now allowed to pay in one other form of payment.
20. Join AOA and regularly attend the FREE member seminars and workshops. The AOA “Million Dollar” Trade Show and Educational Conference is scheduled for Thursday, April 25, 2013 at the Long Beach Convention Center. Be sure to attend this money-saving and money-making event! Learn the laws. Knowledge is power!
If you have any additional suggestions, or have experience that you’d like to share with other members, please email [email protected]. Patricia A. Harris is Senior Editor of the AOA Magazine.