Author Topic: First time landlording  (Read 4683 times)

psyclotr0n

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First time landlording
« on: October 26, 2015, 05:57:26 PM »
Hello, looking into renting out my primary home (a condo in San Francisco in pretty good shape), and renting out a room up north a bit for a potential job transfer.

Wondering if I could get some general references on things everyone should know before renting out a property; i.e. screening tenants, drafting leases, tips for posting on craigslist, amount of deposit to collect. Anything California specific would be helpful too.

Thanks!

Evgenia

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2015, 06:09:30 PM »
I'll let others/the Internet handle San Francisco rent specifics. I live there as well and know rent control, tenant rights and all of that make for interesting preparation.

As a former accidental landlord, though, I have a few pointers:

* Put a credit card on file with a plumber, HVAC company and locksmith and leave the phone numbers to these on the fridge for them. If your tenant needs these services, they can get them faster and more easily without involving you. These places will probably call you to approve the charges since you won't be there to sign on the dotted line. This simple act saved me SO many "furnace died" calls in the middle of the night.

* To the list of phone numbers you may wish to add the building/condo association management company, if there is one.

* I left extra light bulbs, air filters and things of that nature in the unit for new tenants. Those are all deductible.

* I did very detailed Craigslist posts and used the "list" HTML code a lot. Great photos and a coherent listing with proper spelling got me decent folks, but I got the best tenants from AcademicHomes.com.

* Get a tax accountant if you don't use one already. Things like HOAs become tax deductible when they normally aren't, and all sorts of fun things. This is even more helpful if you've split the tax year, i.e. occupied the property for part of the year and rented it for another part of the year.

* Insist that you be notified of roommates joining, just to know what's up and even if you don't add them to the lease. My primary tenant lost her job, got a roommate to help with rent, didn't tell me, and the new roommate turned out to be batshit crazy. My primary tenant called me from her mobile, locked in her bedroom, while the new roommate beat on her door with a hammer. Good times! I nearly had to have a sheriff remove her, but she fortunately had no legal right to be in the property since she wasn't in the lease. I think San Francisco is a bit different about what a tenant is and all of that, but good to know.

Cathy

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2015, 11:20:00 PM »
I nearly had to have a sheriff remove her, but she fortunately had no legal right to be in the property since she wasn't in the lease.

To be clear, in most or all states, it is not lawful to forcibly evict occupants simply because they have no legal right to be present on the property. In the case of California (your profile location), here is some black letter law:

                     The forcible detainer statute protects the "occupant of real property," meaning one "in the peaceable and undisturbed possession of such lands." ...

For occupants in peaceful possession of real property, these statutes offer protection from self-help, without regard to the parties' legal claims to title or possession ... The statutes ... reflect a policy, with deep roots in English law, barring the use of forceful self-help to enforce a right to possession of real property and requiring instead the use of judicial process to gain possession ...

Regardless of who has the right to possession, orderly procedure and preservation of the peace require that the actual possession shall not be disturbed except by legal process.

Spinks v. Equity Residential Briarwood Apartments, 171 CalApp4th 1004, 1038 (CA Ct App 2009) (citations and internal quotation marks omitted; emphasis added). In California, "[t]he only exceptions are for certain transient hotel guests". Id, at 1034-35.

This applies in all of California (and indeed, most or all of the United States), not just San Francisco.

I express no view on your specific situation. I just wouldn't want people to think that it is lawful to forcibly evict somebody simply because they aren't "in the lease", because that is very wrong.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2015, 12:38:34 AM by Cathy »

Captain and Mrs Slow

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2015, 02:40:01 AM »
An excellent blog is www.nononsenselandlord.com/ and for Canadians http://landlordrescue.ca/

Neither post too often but what they is do is extremely helpful

psyclotr0n

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2015, 03:12:18 PM »
What's a good background check service? Are there good templates for applications and leases?

tonysemail

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2015, 03:30:04 PM »
I ended up using postlets for the listing and mysmartmove for the tenant check.
You can see how it works at the website-
https://postlets.mysmartmove.com/

psyclotr0n

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2015, 03:48:35 PM »
Anyone use Paypal (or other electronic recurring payment like Popmoney) to receive rent? How do you deal with the Paypal fees? Do you incentivize electronic payments?

sunshine

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2015, 05:23:14 PM »
Anyone use Paypal (or other electronic recurring payment like Popmoney) to receive rent? How do you deal with the Paypal fees? Do you incentivize electronic payments?

We were advised not to use PayPal. We were told PayPal often sides with the buyer. The person that told us this was burned when  their tenant disputed the payment they had made.

We just bought our first rental and plan to give our tenants the option to pay right at our bank. I set up a specific account for this. They will be given 12 deposit slips. I also plan to email rent reminders 5 days in advance.

adamcollin

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #8 on: October 28, 2015, 03:24:49 AM »
What's a good background check service? Are there good templates for applications and leases?

To help ensure that you get only the reliable tenants, many landlords and real estate companies use background check services as part of the tenant screening process. You can find many templates online.

Evgenia

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #9 on: October 28, 2015, 03:35:14 PM »
To be clear, in most or all states, it is not lawful to forcibly evict occupants simply because they have no legal right to be present on the property. In the case of California (your profile location), here is some black letter law:

This was in Illinois and "no legal right to be present" was not the only cause for eviction. The primary cause was her physically threatening her roommate (and smashing counter tops) with a hammer.

I think your point illustrates exactly why being a landlord is something to carefully consider: you don't necessarily even know who is inhabiting your property and can't necessarily do anything about it very easily. You can screen "real" tenants from here to Sunday and spend time and money on a great lease, and still end up with residents you didn't choose and know nothing about.

Cathy

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2015, 05:54:04 PM »
This was in Illinois...

Without commenting on your specific situation, I would just note that the law is substantially the same in Illinois on this topic. "[N]o person has the right to take possession, by force, of premises occupied or possessed by another, even though such person may be justly entitled to such possession. ... Persons seeking possession must use [judicial process] rather than use force." People v. Evans, 163 Ill App3d 561, 564 (IL Ct App 1987). Furthermore, according to the Court, the criminal law is inappropriate to deal with mere trespass because it requires a police officer, who is not trained in the law, to adjudicate complicated property law disputes:

                             A review of this record reveals how inappropriate a criminal proceeding is for determining rights to real property. Initially, we note that in a forcible entry and detainer action, a trial judge determines which party has the better right of possession. [By contrast, in a criminal proceeding], this determination [is] made initially by a police officer, via his or her decision to arrest, and subsequently by an assistant State's Attorney, via his or her decision to prosecute.
Id, 565.

Even though I had not read this opinion before, the Court said substantially the same thing as I've previously said in past posts on this forum about why the police are not well-suited to dealing with trespass.

That said, I realise that in your specific situation, your allegations against the occupant involved more than just trespass. The only point I wanted to make in this thread was that, in the United States, trespass alone does not usually justify a forcible eviction.

the_fella

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #11 on: November 07, 2015, 09:43:46 PM »
Anyone use Paypal (or other electronic recurring payment like Popmoney) to receive rent? How do you deal with the Paypal fees? Do you incentivize electronic payments?

We were advised not to use PayPal. We were told PayPal often sides with the buyer. The person that told us this was burned when  their tenant disputed the payment they had made.

We just bought our first rental and plan to give our tenants the option to pay right at our bank. I set up a specific account for this. They will be given 12 deposit slips. I also plan to email rent reminders 5 days in advance.

Depending on the bank your tenants use, they may be able just to send the money electronically if you give them your account and routing number.

undercover

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2015, 05:57:42 AM »
This was in Illinois...

Without commenting on your specific situation, I would just note that the law is substantially the same in Illinois on this topic. "[N]o person has the right to take possession, by force, of premises occupied or possessed by another, even though such person may be justly entitled to such possession. ... Persons seeking possession must use [judicial process] rather than use force." People v. Evans, 163 Ill App3d 561, 564 (IL Ct App 1987). Furthermore, according to the Court, the criminal law is inappropriate to deal with mere trespass because it requires a police officer, who is not trained in the law, to adjudicate complicated property law disputes:

                             A review of this record reveals how inappropriate a criminal proceeding is for determining rights to real property. Initially, we note that in a forcible entry and detainer action, a trial judge determines which party has the better right of possession. [By contrast, in a criminal proceeding], this determination [is] made initially by a police officer, via his or her decision to arrest, and subsequently by an assistant State's Attorney, via his or her decision to prosecute.
Id, 565.

Even though I had not read this opinion before, the Court said substantially the same thing as I've previously said in past posts on this forum about why the police are not well-suited to dealing with trespass.

That said, I realise that in your specific situation, your allegations against the occupant involved more than just trespass. The only point I wanted to make in this thread was that, in the United States, trespass alone does not usually justify a forcible eviction.

Curious, do the laws for these matters ever distinguish between primary residences and rental property? If trespassing is legal until deemed illegal then why can't anyone just walk into anyone's house and sit there until taken to court? Again, maybe what you relayed is in the context of rental property solely, but it's not clear.

In either case, I'd say 99% of people who know they have no legal claim to be at said property would cooperate with the police if forced to be removed.

Cathy

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2015, 09:22:30 PM »
The precise rules vary by state. In California, as I described in my earlier post, the threshold is that if a person is "peaceably in ... actual possession" of the land, then that person generally cannot be removed from the land without a court order, even if that person is present on the land without any claim of right. Cal Civ Proc Code 1172; Spinks v. Equity Residential Briarwood Apartments, 171 CalApp4th 1004, 1038 (CA Ct App 2009). However, "a mere scrambling or interrupted possession, or the exercise of casual acts of ownership over the premises, is not sufficient" to constitute "actual possession". House v. Keiser, 8 Cal 499, 501 (CA Sup Ct 1857); accord Havemeyer v. Superior Court, 84 Cal 327, 336 (CA Sup Ct 1890).

There are literally hundreds of years of cases opining on different fact patterns and analysing whether a person was "peaceably in ... actual possession" under a given set of facts. I won't be surveying those cases in this post as it's a bit too much work. It's fair to say that this can be a very fact-intensive inquiry at the margins. As mentioned, the precise rules vary by state. If you need an opinion on whether you need a court order to remove a particular person, you should retain counsel to analyse your specific situation. If it's not clear whether a person is "peaceably in ... actual possession" or otherwise entitled to due process of law, obtaining a court order to remove them may be the prudent course, even if it might not have been required.

Please note that I express no view on any specific scenario.
« Last Edit: November 24, 2015, 11:39:16 PM by Cathy »

Bearded Man

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Re: First time landlording
« Reply #14 on: November 25, 2015, 01:58:10 PM »
My very first tenant at my very first rental house had her sister and her kids move in without my knowledge. It had only been going on for a few months, and I only found out when I went to show the unit to new prospective tenants. I had 3 adults and four kids living in my 900 sf 3 bedroom 1 bath. I was pissed, but considering they would be moving on in a couple months, wasn't much worth the hassle. The lease had a clause in there, but I was happy to get the 2 months extra rent while looking for a new tenant. The tenants sister seemed REALLY out of it every time I saw her.

Anyways, it's a very real concern. I have a young lady living in there now, with her two kids, but I worry about questionable visitors moving in. All the more reason to be able to drive by there from time to time to be able to check how many cars are parked there all the time...