Requirements for California Property Managers
- Property managers have an extensive list of responsibilities – from leasing activities, collecting rent and security deposits, maintaining the livability of dwellings, conducting move-in and move-out inspections, and adhering to real estate laws.
- Property managers also need to make sure their residential units meet their respective health, safety, and building codes.
- Discover more of the responsibilities of a qualified California property manager below.
This article is designed to convey information and not to provide legal advice. Any information here should not be taken as legal advice. You should consider obtaining specific legal advice from an attorney about any decision or contemplated course of action.
Property management can be a rewarding experience with many duties.
Some of the property manager’s responsibilities include 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 fully comply with all laws governing the conduct of business in the state. This includes workplace safety, sexual harassment, discrimination, and the like.
In short, there are a lot of very specific requirements for California property managers. Among them are:
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 California property manager.
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 a 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 who have refused to pay rent until units are brought up to code is defensible according to the California State Supreme Court.
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, meaning it cannot be spent by the owner. It cannot be used for any purpose other than recompensing repairs, cleaning, or refunding lost rental income if a tenant moves out owing back rent.
Some states like Washington require security deposits to be kept in a separate account from rent. This is to avoid losing track of the funds’ amount or accidentally spending the deposit.
It is also the landlord’s responsibility to avoid investing the funds. Doing so may lead to a lawsuit.
Inspections must be conducted when a new tenant moves in. The landlord records the conditions of the unit on a move-in move-out form. The same form is used when the tenant moves out to compare the unit and its items’ condition.
If damage is found, the security deposit can be used 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 returned 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 and county in which their properties are located.
They must also make sure they operate within the guidelines of the ordinance—paying strict attention to the nuances of their area.
For example, some cities exempt townhomes 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 such as requiring interest payments on security deposits, while many do not.
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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