Legal Corner

Written by Landlord Property Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Stephen C. Duringer, Esq., The Duringer Law Group, PLC

Question         

Street parking spaces are few and far between near my building. My apartment complex has just enough parking spaces for my residents to each have one space.  If a resident has more than one car, they must try to park it on the street.  It has been working out fine for years but now I have this one tenant who refuses to follow the rules.  He is constantly parking his second car in someone else’s assigned spot.  I’ve told him several times but he just ignores me.  What do I do?

Answer                       

Your community rules and regulations should specify your parking rules, specifically stating that only one vehicle may be parked on the premises, and that all parking is assigned.  Ensure that you have the proper signage at the entrances to the parking area.  Most cities require the sign to contain certain restrictive parking language, plus the local police department telephone number, and the California Vehicle Code section that provides for towing of unauthorized vehicles.   Contact your local police department for their specific requirements, as they vary from city to city.  Next if you know the offender, then provide a written warning of the violation.  Attempt to serve it at his residence, post it on his door if he’s not in, and also put the warning on the windshield of his car. If practical, take and save a photograph of the warning on the vehicle windshield, because the offender will always claim that you did not give prior notice before towing.  If he fails to remove the offending vehicle, the car may be towed.

 

Question         

I rented an apartment to four roommates quite a while ago.  One of the four is now moving out, but the other three want to stay.  The one moving out is demanding that I return his portion of the security deposit, he says that he paid it so he should get it back.  Do I have to?

Answer

No, the security deposit remains with you as long as any of the roommates remains in possession of the rental unit.  Often, owners and residents will enter into an agreement replacing one resident with another, thereby removing the one original resident from the lease. The agreement will further provide that the ‘new’ roommate pay the ‘old’ roommate his portion of the security deposit.  Absent a written agreement to the contrary, the owner should retain the entire security deposit, then when all the remaining roommates vacate, the refund check should be made payable to all four of the original roommates named in the rental agreement.    

 

Question         

I’ve been doing my own prospective resident screening for quite a while now.  I think I’m pretty thorough, but I’m just not sure any more.  I’ve been noticing more and more inconsistencies in the applications I review, and I even came across one who out and out lied about who she was!   I’m concerned about all of the stories I’ve heard about identity theft.  I just can’t afford to make a mistake.  What can I do to weed out these undesirables and minimize my chances of being fooled?

Answer                       

Identity theft has been a growing problem for several years.  Landlords have increasingly been victimized by prospects posing as someone else, using false or fraudulent information.  Often times, these thieves take advantage of a desperate landlord, eager to fill a vacancy, or a newbie landlord, who hasn’t gone through the school of hard knocks yet.  Completed and signed applications by all adults are a must.  Verify the information provided.  Personally inspect some form of U.S. government issued photo identification.  Make a photo copy of the ID and keep it secured with your file.  Verify that the social security or the tax ID number provided by the prospect is actually his number, and is valid.  Run and thoroughly review, an eviction and credit check through your apartment association.  If practical, go outside to the prospect’s vehicle, and verify that the license number on the car he just drove, matches the license number he just wrote down on the rental application.  Many ‘hands on’ owners will actually visit the prospect’s current residence unannounced, prior to approval to ensure the prospect actually lives there, and doesn’t just sleep on the couch.  You’d be amazed at what you will learn by a simple visit.  Inform all prospective applicants that you have a policy of taking a picture of all residents for the tenancy file.  Follow through with this policy and actually take a picture of all proposed occupants and keep the picture in your tenancy records. When verifying employment, and residency, ask for a description of the person, and compare the description with the person who filled out the application.  Ask for original utility bills, electric, telephone, cell phone, cable, anything with his name on it.  All of these are tools that may be used in proper screening to avoid renting to an identity thief.  Use these tools consistently, and apply them equally to all applicants, and your risk will be dramatically reduced.

 

Question         

What types of repairs can I require the tenant to take responsibility for?

Answer                       

A landlord and tenant can agree, in writing by the rental agreement, to allocate responsibility for minor repairs between them.  Often landlords and tenants may agree that certain items, amenities, will be the tenant’s responsibility to maintain. These may include refrigerators, washing machines, pools or spas, air conditioning, and minor plumbing issues.

 

This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues.  Specific inquiries regarding a specific situation should be addressed to your attorney.  Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm has successfully handled over 285,000 landlord tenant matters throughout California and has collected over $200,000,000 in debt since 1988. The firm may be reached at 714.279.1100 or 800.829.6994.  Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information.