Along with the ever-changing and newly adopted 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 2015, regulations and standard requirements which landlords must follow to avoid trouble, stay out of court, and save money in unnecessary penalties.

SAN FRANCISCO- The Rent Board fee is billed to the landlord each year on the property tax statement, and the law permits the landlord to collect a portion of this fee from those tenants in occupancy as of November 1stof each year. The landlord may collect 50% of the fee from tenants in one lump sum. For more information, call (415) 252-4602.

OAKLANDRent Program Service Fee used to cover the costs of operating the City of Oakland‘s Rent Adjustment Program (formerly Residential Rent Arbitration) and implementation of the Just Cause for Eviction Ordinance are due January 1st of each year and delinquent after March 1st.

If the fee is paid on time, property owners are entitled to collect half of the fee in one lump sum, from the tenant(s) of the rental unit for which the fee is paid. This amount is not rent and cannot be included when calculating a rent increase.  For more information contact the Oakland Rent Adjustment Program at 510-238-3704. 

BERKELEY– Registration information and bills are mailed to property owners and/or managers around May 26th.These registration feesare due on July 1st. Payments not received in the Rent Board Office or postmarked by the due will be assessed 100% penalty.

The annual registration fee is due for each unit covered by the Rent Stabilization Ordinance. A special 30-day notice must be used which can be found on the Rent Board’s website or by calling the Berkeley Rent Stabilization Board 510-981-7368 (981-RENT). 

1.      Read and understand Attorney Dale Alberstone’s article in January’s issue regarding resident managers.  Prepare and sign a Written Employment Agreementwith all of your resident managers.

2.      Make sure to offer all vacating tenants the AB2330 Walk Through Move-Out Inspection no sooner than two weeks before tenant is due to move to avoid Small Claims court action and penalties on security deposit refunds.  (Free forms for members at www.aoausa.com).

3.      Send your Security Deposit Refund Letter 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.  (Free forms for members available on www.aoausa.com).

4.      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.

5.      Always run credit, eviction and criminal reports with AOABEFORE renting.

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, Tagalog, 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.      Send the required AOA “Tenant Rejection Notice” to all unaccepted applicants. (Available for free to members at www.aoausa.com).

8.      Prepare and plan ahead to replace plumbing fixtures with the required water-conserving fixtures before January 1, 2019.  SB 407 [Padilla] 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.

9.      Carbon Monoxide detectors should have been installed in all dwelling units by January 1, 2013. If you haven’t put them in – 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.  Call StatComm, Inc. at 650-988-9508 for fire regulations and installation.

Installation:  Install one detector outside of all sleeping areas and one detector on each level, including basements. 

10.  Know and be in compliance with all Fair Housing Laws. Do not discriminate.

11.  Test and maintain the working order of all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.

12.  Save money with AOA’s Group Insurance Program. Contact our group insurance team today for a FREE QUOTE at 800-827-4262.

13.  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) – (Call Co-Op Lighting Distribution and Service at (650) 216-9816) 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.

14.  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. (Free forms for members at www.aoausa.com).

15.  Do not request only cash or electronic payments of rent. Tenants are now allowed to pay in one other form of payment.

16.  Join AOA and regularly attend the FREE member seminars and workshops. Learn  

       the laws.  Knowledge is power!

17. Beginning January 1, 2015, all smoke alarms must display the date of manufacture on the device, provide a place on the device where the date of installation can be written and incorporate a hush feature to be approved and listed by the State Fire Marshal. Landlords of all residential rental units will have to change the smoke alarms to conform to Senate bill No: 745.

If you have any additional suggestions, or have an experience that you’d like to share with other members, please email editor@aoausa.com. Patricia A. Harris is Senior Editor of the AOA Magazine.