A Landlord’s Guide to Section 8
Property management can be a rewarding experience with many perks. Numbered among the duties are leasing activities, collecting security deposits and rent, maintaining dwellings to a certain standard and adhering to all laws related to the profession.. Further, the property manager must ensure compliance with all laws governing the conducting of business in the state, including workplace safety, sexual harassment, discrimination and the like. In short, there are a number of very specific requirements for California property managers. Among them are:
Possession of a Real Estate Broker’s License
You’ll need a real estate broker’s license, or you must work for an individual who has one to operate as a property manager in the State of California. You must demonstrate specific training in the field and pass a written examination administered by the state’s Department of Real Estate to get a broker’s license. The only exception is owning the property and managing it yourself. Read more about getting real estate license here.
Conformity with Health, Safety and Building Codes
Property managers are required to ensure residential rental units meet all applicable health, safety and building codes. This of course means they have to be familiar with them. Tenants have refused to pay rent until units are brought up to code and the California State Supreme Court has ruled the action is defensible.
Proper Administering of Security Deposits
Security deposits are limited to a maximum of double the monthly rent for unfurnished living spaces. Deposits must be held as if in escrow and cannot be used for any purpose other than recompensing repairs, cleaning efforts, or lost rental income if a tenant moves out owing back rent. Inspections must be conducted when a new tenant moves in to document the condition of the unit. Another inspection must be conducted when a tenant moves out to compare the results of the move-in inspection. If damage is found, the security deposit can be employed to correct it, but the tenant is to be given a choice of hiring someone to do it (or doing it themselves). Deposits must be refunded within 21 days of a move and deductions must be itemized with supporting receipts for amounts over $126. Tenants have four years to dispute the handling of a security deposit. These are a few security deposit mistakes to avoid.
Compliance with Rent Control Ordinances and Policies
Rent control ordinances can be found in all of the state’s major metroplexes. This has become a hot topic in California’s largest cities as rents have escalated over the last few years. Property managers must be familiar with the rules governing the city in which their properties are located and make sure they operate within the guidelines of the ordinance—paying strict attention to the nuances of their area. For example, some cities exempt town homes from rent caps, but forbid evicting tenants from them without just cause simply to get a better-paying tenant in the property. Other metros have subtle differences like requiring interest payments on security deposits while many do not. Be sure to also download a copy of the rent control cheat sheet for free.
It is the responsibility of the property manager to be aware of these things and ensure the property operates within the rules.
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