E-Renter Tenant Screening News

California: New Tenant Parking Laws

November 19th, 2014


New laws in California signed into effect by the Governor in September 2014 now give tenants rights to install charging stations for their electric vehicles.  If tenants follow the letter of the law, a landlord is required to approve the installation and it could result in your tenant getting an assigned parking spot.  Here’s what you need to know, in a nutshell:

Landlord Requirements:

  • Any lease that is executed, renewed or extended on or after July 2015 is subject to these new laws
  • If you require final sign-off for the installation or use of an electric vehicle charging station, the application for approval shall not be willfully avoided or delayed. The approval or denial of an application shall be in writing.
  • You are required to approve the installation if the tenant follows the law and meets your reasonable requirements.
  • If the tenant pays for the charging station, they have the right to have permanent access to it during the duration of their lease, even if you don’t assign parking spots to other tenants.
  • You are exempt from the requirements in this law, if….
    • You already have charging stations for your tenants that cover at least 10% of the available parking spots
    • You don’t provide ANY parking
    • You are renting a property with less than five parking spots
    • You have a rent-controlled property
  • Other exemptions apply to commercial properties – read the law

Protecting Your Interests

While the law does require you to approve the tenant’s request if you are not exempt, the law also makes provisions for you to set some ground rules about how the charging station will be installed and maintained.  The tenant is required to consent in writing to your rules, and the rules can include (but are not limited to):

  • Tenant’s responsibility for and rules regarding installation, use, maintenance, and removal of the charging station
  • Tenant’s responsibility for and rules regarding installation, use, and maintenance of the infrastructure for the charging station
  • Requiring the tenant provide you with a financial analysis and scope of work regarding the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure
  • Requiring the tenant provide a written description of how, when, and where the modifications and improvements to the property are proposed to be made consistent with those items specified in the “Permitting Checklist” of the “Zero-Emission Vehicles in California: Community Readiness Guidebook” published by the Office of Planning and Research.
  • Requiring the tenant pay for all costs associated with the installation of the charging station and its infrastructure up front, such as the cost of permits, supervision, construction, and, solely if required by the contractor, consistent with its past performance of work for the tenant, performance bonds
  • Requiring the tenant pay as part of rent for the costs associated with the electrical usage of the charging station, and cost for damage, maintenance, repair, removal, and replacement of the charging station, and modifications or improvements made to the property associated with the charging station
  • Requiring the tenant maintain in full force and effect a tenant’s general liability insurance policy in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000) and shall name the lessor (property owner) as a named additional insured under the policy commencing with the date of approval of construction until the tenant forfeits possession of the dwelling to the lessor.  They must provide a certificate of insurance within 14 days of your approval of the charging station.
  • An electric vehicle charging station shall meet applicable health and safety standards and requirements imposed by state and local authorities as well as all other applicable zoning, land use, or other ordinances, or land use permit requirements.
  • The charging station must be installed by a licensed contractor.
  • If you do not provide all tenants with assigned parking spots, and the tenant winds up with an assigned spot because they have paid for the installation charging station, you are allowed to charge the tenant a reasonable amount of rent on the parking space.

If the tenant fails to meet your reasonable requirements, or is unwilling to consent in writing, you can deny their request, but must do so in writing.

Tenant Obligations

  • Costs for damage to property and the charging station resulting from the installation, maintenance, repair, removal, or replacement of the charging station
  • Costs for the maintenance, repair, and replacement of the charging station
  • The cost of electricity associated with the charging station>
  • Maintaining a liability coverage policy at all times in the amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000), and shall name the lessor as a named additional insured under the policy with a right to notice of cancellation and property insurance covering any damage or destruction caused by the charging station, naming the lessor as its interests may appear

If you are subject to this law (meaning you do not qualify for one of the exemptions) we strongly encourage you to develop a written policy in accordance with this law so that it is available if a tenant requests a charging station.

Read the full text of the law.

Be Careful When Evicting Tenants

March 21st, 2014

tenant screening

Did you know that if your building has multiple owners, each name must be on eviction paperwork filed with the court? Leave one name off, and you could have your case dismissed.

That’s just one of little things that keeps many landlords from getting tenants evicted in a timely manner. It’s important to follow the rules in your state very carefully. They vary, but there are basic processes you should be aware of:

First, you have to give your tenant written notice that the lease will be terminated unless they pay the rent, move the RV, pay the damages they owe, etc. The notice will be either a “pay or quit” or “cure or quit” form. For example, in most states, you have to give tenants notice that unless they pay back rent in three to five days, they must quit the premises. Or, you might give a tenant 10 days to find a new place to park the RV.

For those who repeatedly violate the terms of their leases, you can issue an unconditional quit notice, after which the tenant must leave immediately. These are often used for chronic late rent, illegal activities or serious damages (like after a really rowdy party).

If the tenant doesn’t move out, then you can begin  legal proceedings, starting with a summons for eviction. The tenant might fight the eviction, find ways to delay it or expose errors in your paperwork (see above), each of which could prevent you from winning your case.

If you do win, the judge will issue a judgment for possession of the property. Then you must check your state’s laws pertaining to tenants’ property. Most states will have local law enforcement issue the tenant a notice of how many days they have to remove their belongings from the rental property.

If you’re in doubt about your state’s laws or exactly how to proceed with an eviction, contact a lawyer who’s familiar with—or specializes in—landlord-tenant law.

The best tool to protect your rental property and assets is thorough tenant screening. Conduct tenant background checks on every applicant to ensure you are leasing to the best possible tenant.

Five Reasons for Tenant Screening

March 19th, 2014

tenant screening, tenant background check

More people are becoming landlords, whether because they are interested in investing in real estate, or because they need to lease a home they cannot sell. Lack of landlord experience often leads to mistakes that can be very costly. From choosing the wrong appliances or flooring to choosing the wrong tenants, it’s important to have the information you need to make sound decisions for your rental business. And, even if you only have one rental property, it’s still a business!

Arguably the most important decision you’ll make regarding your rental property is who will live in it. Choosing the best tenants isn’t always easy, but going through all of the required steps is imperative. That includes tenant screening. If you’re wondering why you should conduct tenant screening, here are some reasons that should convince you.

  1. “Professional tenants”: These are folks who know how to scam landlords, scam the system and live for months without paying any rent at all. Beware if you have a tenant who offers several months of rent upfront instead of good references. You might be tempted to skip the tenant screening in return, but professional tenants will not pay any additional rent—ever.
  2. False identity: More people are concealing their real identities, with authentic-looking photo IDs. If you fail to run a thorough tenant screening, you won’t know to whom you’re actually leasing. And you can’t help but wonder what they’re hiding in their past.
  3. Lying on lease applications: Many would-be tenants who want to live in your property hope you won’t check their references. They enter false information , from former addresses to former employers, on their lease applications. Checking references is the only way you’ll really know what kind of person they are.
  4. Slow job market: Stagnant wages, rising cost of living and rising rents are combining to make more people have a hard time paying for housing. It’s tough, but you’re not doing yourself any good if you lease to a tenant who can’t pay the rent.
  5. Protecting your property and other tenants: Perhaps the most important reason for tenant background checks is to screen out people with serious criminal records. Do you really want someone who has been convicted for assault, drug dealing or sex crimes living in your rental property? What is the potential liability if you don’t screen tenants and someone harms another resident? Do you want to risk having a criminal element in your property?

New landlords are particularly vulnerable to scam artists and dishonest people. Tenant screening will quickly give you the peace of mind you need and help ensure you’re leasing to the best possible tenant. It’s worth your time to find a tenant who has a good job, pays rent on time and causes no trouble!

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