Q: I am a new landlord and I recently found a tenant to rent out my father’s house that I inherited. I am in the process of writing a lease for this tenant. What information do I need to include about myself in the lease or rental agreement?
A: Pursuant to California Civil Code § 1962 a landlord must provide a notice of change of ownership or management anytime there is a new owner, manager, or contact information has changed.
The notice or contract must include the following information: name, telephone number and address of the person or entity rent payments are to be made; the forms of payment accepted: the usual days and hours the person will be available to accept payments if the payments must be made in person. Landlords are also required to identify the name of the owner of the premises or the person who is authorized to accept service of process and receive all notices and demands on behalf of the owner. Further, you must provide a copy of the contract within 15 days after the tenant signs the contract.
Q: If I decide to rent out my house based on an oral agreement, do I still need to provide the tenant with the information required by CC § 1962?
A: Yes, if you decide to enter into an oral agreement with your future tenant you must supply the above information in a notice within 15 days of the agreement. A tenant may request a copy of this information once each calendar year. It is the landlord’s duty to provide a copy within 15 days of the request.
Q: I am the owner of an apartment complex. I have recently become ill and won’t be able to self-manage my property anymore. I have decided to utilize a property management company. Do I need to notify my tenants?
A: Yes, as a landlord you have a duty to inform your tenants of any change in ownership or management. This can be done through a Notice of Change of Ownership or Management as explained above. You must supply the new information to each of your tenants within 15 days of the change. Be sure to maintain accurate records and record a proof of service to show when and how the notice was served to prevent future problems. Landlords need to remember to provide notice when: a property is sold, a landlord changes property management companies, when a landlord decides to self-manage their properties, and when the phone number or address of the landlord or property manager changes.
Q: I recently decided to hire a new property manager. I have not notified my tenants of this change in management because I am still the owner. Now, I have a tenant who is refusing to pay rent. I have not served a Notice of Change of Ownership or Management. Can this affect the outcome of my unlawful detainer?
A: Yes. If you have new management managing the properties, then you must notify your tenants of this change. Tenants must be notified of the change in management within 15 days of the change. If the tenant is not notified, the landlord or manager may not serve the tenant a Notice to Pay Rent or Quit or evict the tenant for non-payment of rent for any rent due during the period that the tenant did not have notice of the change. The tenant is still responsible for the unpaid rent, however, the rent cannot be pursued through an unlawful detainer action.
Q: I know that I cannot demand rent in a Three Day Notice for any period that I am not in compliance with CC § 1962. Can I collect the unpaid rent in small claims court?
A: Yes, you may file a small claims or general civil action to collect unpaid rent from periods of non-compliance.
Attorney Franco Simone, of the Landlords Legal Center and has been doing evictions for 20 years. He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego. Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday- Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM .- Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org