Being a real estate agent for the past 10 years, I have run into all kinds of problems with properties. One of the toughest problems to solve is Cigarette Smoke Odors and Pet Odors. I once had a tenant in a West Los Angeles Condo that was a smoker. He swore up and down that he would never smoke inside the condo. A few weeks after he moved in, I get a call from the Property Management Company with a complaint that someone was smoking on the balcony of the condo.
This building has a designated smoking area where residents are allowed to smoke. I asked the tenant if he was smoking inside the condo and he said, “Of course not!” He claimed it was the person below him… I should have known right then that there this was going to be a problem.
After a few months, I got another call, this time from a neighbor, who complained that they smelled smoke coming from my unit. I live in Southern California, and California, in general, has very tough smoking laws, especially in public places.
Well after a few months of arguing back and forth with the tenant we both decided to end the lease early and go our separate ways. There was only one problem: when I got my condo back it reeked of tobacco smell. Before I tried to cover up the smell by painting the walls, which I was skeptical would work anyways, I did some research online.
I found a company out of Orange County who specializes in Odorless Smoke Removal, I was intrigued by their process because it involved using Ozone (O3 Molecules, the same ones in the Ozone above the atmosphere) to eliminate odors. I discovered that Hotels use this technology to remove odors, so I knew it had to work.
I contacted the odor removal company, and Troy the owner came out to visit my Ole’ Smokey Condo. Troy has a very sensitive nose, and he could tell right away with his sniffer that the smoke odor was very strong. For light odors, he needs 2-3 days with his machines, with medium odors 4-5 days, and for heavy odors like what I was dealing with he needs 7-10 days. He told me he was relieved I called him before painting because once you paint it is much harder to remove the smoke odors from the walls.
I asked him how to get rid of the cigarette smoke smell. Troy explained that his machines produce ozone (black cases in the picture above). Since Ozone is heavier than regular O2 (the Oxygen we breathe) he needs fans to push the ozone up into the ducting and ceiling and tops of the walls. The Ozone machines and fans work in tandem to spread the ozone throughout the spaces with odor. Ozone is a highly reactive particle, it chemically bonds with odors and neutralizes them.
Smoke removal isn’t cheap! The cost runs anywhere from $100 to $200 per day depending on the size of the space that needs to be treated. In my situation, it was a no brainer because I couldn’t rerent the condo until the smoke smell was gone so I didn’t have any choice.
Troy warned me that exposure small amounts of Ozone are fine (he actually strongly believes there are health benefits to microdoses of ozone) but if you are exposed to Ozone for a prolonged period it can hurt your lungs. When the machines are running the room must be closed up and no people can go in unless they are wearing a respirator. It’s not very dangerous but you should still use caution.
After 7 days of running the machines, we returned to the condo to smell the results. I was amazed! It was incredible, the smoke smell from six months of heavy smoking in the condo was completely gone. I was very grateful and rerented the condo in short order. Since that time I have used ozone treatments for dog smells, including pet odors and urine smells and other stubborn odors and it has been incredibly effective. I highly recommend this service to property managers, real estate agents (like myself), or property owners who are dealing with an odor problem. Troy says he works a lot with Car Dealerships and Rental Companies – so it works in cars too.
It’s the first of the month and rent is due. How do I pay rent?
Before the internet, tenants most commonly paid rent in cash. Landlords would go door to door, knocking on their tenant’s doors, and collect rent on the first of the month.
Thankfully, nobody really does that anymore. Winter climates make this practice a chilly endeavor, especially in January and February. For myself, knocking on the tenant’s door is a last resort. I only knock on a tenant’s door when ALL OTHER attempts to collect rent have failed. There are a variety of better ways to pay rent now, so tenants can be left in peace, and landlords don’t need to make unnecessary trips.
Ways to Pay Rent:
Wire transfers are ideal for sending the initial Move In funds- they aren’t so great for regular monthly rent payments because of the cost. There is no limit on the amount of the transfer and as long as you get the WIRE out before 2:00-2:30 PM Pacific Standard Time, the money will be transferred the same day. If you miss the wire cutoff deadline, it will be sent out the next day. The wire cutoff time is set by the East Coast, which is 3 hours ahead, New York wire cut off time is 5:30pm. WIREs cost $20-$30 each time. WIREs can be sent internationally as well. For Domestic WIRE transfer, all you need is the recipients name, bank name and their account number. Their Bank’s routing number can be helpful as well, but usually it is pretty easy to look it up.
ACH Transfer or Direct Deposit (Free)
My favorite rent payments option is ACH Transfer. ACH stands for Automated Clearing House. This is the system that US banks use to transfer money between each other. It was set up in the 1960s, so it has been around forever, and every US bank is part of the system. These transfers are typically free to just a few dollars, and you can set up recurring payments. Funds become available to the landlord within 3-5 days. It uses the same network as WIRE Transfers but doesn’t cost $20-$30 to send. I think of ACH like a slow and cheap WIRE. Similar to a WIRE, you will need the Person’s name, Bank Name, Bank Account Number, Routing Number, to set up ACH Payments.
ACCOUNT SETUP: To set up ACH you can set it up yourself online on your bank’s website. If that’s too confusing- just go into your local bank branch and speak to a banker or call your bank’s customer service phone number, and a customer service representative will assist you to set up ACH payments.
WIRE FRAUD ADVISORY- Email is not a secure way to transmit Banking Account Numbers. If you do email your Bank Account Number to your tenant, make sure to have them verify the account number with you over the phone. Make sure the bank account number wasn’t hacked. Once the money is transferred it is gone, if the tenant sends money to the wrong account number- it cannot be returned.
Most Tenants and Landlords agree that Online rental payments are best. With the advent of online banking, paying/collecting rent is now simpler and easier than ever- you can pay rent by clicking a button! Imagine paying rent while lying in bed in your pajamas with your morning cup of coffee and your laptop or paying rent while hand gliding in the clouds in South America on your cell phone. You get the point- paying online is very convenient. You can pay anytime, anywhere you have a connection to the internet- and payment arrives instantly. There are a variety of free and low-cost online payment options. One advantage with online payments is that you can schedule recurring payments or automatic payments, so you don’t even to think about it.
Zelle launched in 2017, so it is a newer online transfer method. Zelle is owned by the banks and allows for mobile banking. Since Zelle is relatively new, not every bank is part of the system yet- they add more banks Daily. You can check if your bank is a member bank on Zelle’s website: https://www.zellepay.com/get-started
If your bank is not a member yet, Sorry! You will just have to wait until they are added. All of the major US banks are already members.
Zelle Limits the first transfer to a new sender to $500. After the first transfer, the amount automatically increases to $2,500/mo. per transfer. if the monthly rent is more than $2,500, You can call your bank to raise your transfer limit for Zelle or send more than one transfer. Zelle is Free. Zelle does not work for international Transfers.
Zelle is not great for the initial move in funds. Zelle’s transfer limits can be an issue with the move in funds for 2 months security plus 1-month rent in LA is much more than $2,500. For initial move in funds, I usually recommend to do a WIRE for $30, Cashier’s Check or ACH- all of which have unlimited transfer amounts. You might have to send 3 or 4 Zelle transfers to send all of the move in funds. Participating Banks will have a link to Zelle in their online website, or on their mobile app.
ACCOUNT SET UP: All you need to do is log onto your bank’s website or download your bank’s mobile app, and register your mobile number and email address with your bank account. You will need your landlord’s name + email or phone that they have registered with their Zelle.
Venmo is owned by Paypal. Venmo was launched in 2009 and was the first mobile banking app. They have a website too, Venmo is an independent Mobile Banking App and Zelle is owned by the major banks. When you open up a Venmo account- you need to verify your identity. This is more difficult for initial set up then Venmo. It’s free. $3,000 max weekly limit, it cannot be raised higher. Not good for leases over $3,000 per month or for move in the transfer.
One of the reasons to hire a property management company is to have them handle rent collecting for you. Since Rent Collection is one of Property Management Company’s main services (Their management fee comes from the rent), they will have several different payment options set up for tenants to choose from to make paying rent as easily as possible. I always recommend to Hire local property Management Company. If they are Local, they will have an office location where tenants can drop off rent. In addition, Property Management Companies usually have their own online portals from their websites where tenants can create an account, login, and pay rent. Management Companies can accept credit cards- usually a 3% convenience fee for this payment method.
Personal Checks still work OK if the landlord is local or In State. Tenant’s can drop a personal check at the Landlord’s rent collection box or send it to their mailing address. Personal Checks are safe to send regular US Mail. The only issue with mailing a personal check is that the US Post office sometimes will lose it, and a lot of the times it can take anywhere from 3-7 days for the check to arrive depending on how far it is traveling within the continental US. One downside of personal checks is they doesn’t work for out of country or overseas landlords (Your London Landlord might be waiting a bloody long time for the rent check to clear customs at Heathrow International Airport).
Sometimes tenants and landlords can get into disagreements with mailing personal checks, because the lease will have a 3-5 Grace period to pay rent before the tenant is charged a late fee, and if the check is sent on the mail on the 3rd – 5th day of the month, and takes 3 or more days to arrive, by the time it gets to the landlord it is already late. Then there is a question, is the rent late if it is not sent by the grace period, or not received by the landlord by the grace period? If you will be mailing checks, it might be better to clarify this beforehand, or just switch to online payments which are instant.
If you are mailing a check, I recommend getting it in the mail on the first, or better yet, even a few days earlier than the first to make sure it arrives within grace period. A downside for tenant’s is you need envelopes and stamps which are a small cost. A downside of personal checks for the landlord is once it arrives, they need to make a trip to the bank to deposit it, and a check can bounce of course.
Expert Landlord Tip: Don’t want your tenant to know where you live? You can open a PO Box at your local post office to keep you home address confidential.
Cashier’s checks work great for Move In Funds. There is no limit to Cashier Check amount, except that you need that much money in your account. Cashiers Checks work a little differently than personal checks- when I personal check is deposited by the receiver that is when the funds leave the senders account. This is why sometimes personal checks can bounce. Unlike a personal check, for Cashiers Checks, the money leaves the senders account as soon as they make the Cashier’s Check out. There is no bounce risk with Cashier Check.
Money Orders and Western Union are better than cashier’s checks for rent under $1,000/mo. because they have lower fees- just $5-$10 dollars.You can do a money order at Walmart.
As a general policy for both landlords and tenants I DO NOT recommend accepting/making rent payments in cash. First, cash is not easy to send securely and second, there is no record of payments received in cash (which might be why some landlords like it, so they don’t have to report it on their taxes). For rent payments made in cash, always ask the landlord or Manager to give you a receipt to prove that you paid. That way, no one can come back later and say you didn’t pay, and then you are responsible for paying rent twice.
Another downside of cash is there is a real risk of robbery if you carry large amounts of cash on you. Back in the 1980s in LA, I heard some real estate stories of Vietnamese and Korean Landlords walking to the bank with an ex-military escort toting an AK 47. Cash is very popular form of rent payment for Asian landlords.
I think this is common knowledge, but never hurts to restate- Never send cash in the mail. Someone at the post office will probably open the package and steal it. If the cash is stolen, you are still responsible to pay rent- so you will have to pay twice. Cash requires hand delivery (which usually means time restrictions to during normal business hours Monday through Friday), which is very inconvenient, or impossible if landlord lives far away, which is why many landlords refuse to accept it as a form of payment.
Cash does have some advantages- cash can’t bounce like a personal check. Also, there is no transaction fees to pay rent with cash. And there is something visceral about holding cold hard cash in your hands that you don’t get with an electronic transfer.
If you insist on cash, I strongly recommend considering cashier’s checks or Money Orders– for a small fee, they are as good as cash, however, they can only be cashed by the intended recipient and are safe to send, and create a record of payment.
A lot have news has been covering Crypto Currency in recent years. This is a new form of payment. Most traditional landlords won’t accept it because they don’t know what cryptocurrency is, or how to receive and store it. Since Cryptocurrency technology is still developing and the market has such high volatility it makes it very difficult to use as a payment method at this time. If you wait a few days after receiving the CryptoCurrency payment to convert it into fiat currency, the value could have changed plus or minus 20%. Which is great if it goes up 20%, but horrible if it goes down 20%.
When you lease or rent property in Los Angeles, landlords collect a security deposit along with the first month of rent. The security deposit is like an insurance policy for landlords. If the tenant damages the property or breaks the lease- the landlord can retain some, or all, of the security deposit to cover their losses.
For tenants, you may not like having the additional upfront expense, especially when you are already paying for a move, and you may need to buy furniture for the new place, but you are just going to have to get use to it, because landlords need some of your hard-earned cash to hold onto to feel safe.
Everything in real estate is negotiable, and so is the security deposit. California State Law addresses the handling of Security Deposits in CA Civil Code 1950.5.
Security Deposit Legal Maximums
The Legal Maximum Security Deposit in California for an Unfurnished Lease is (2) Month’s Rent. For Furnished leases, the legal maximum is (3) Month’s Rent. However, there is no legal maximum on prepaid rent. Commercial Properties have no limit on security deposits.
For example, let’s suppose that you rent an unfurnished apartment for $2,000/mo. The legal maximum a landlord can collect as a security deposit is $4,000. The landlord will also want first month’s rent, so the total move-in cost would be $6,000.
There is no such thing as Non-Refundable Security Deposit in California. Some Landlords will try to charge a “reservation fee” or “holding fee” on a unit or say that a portion of the security deposit is non refundable, while they wait for the new tenant to move in. This is illegal (**cough cough** Barrington Plaza’s $500 holding fee). Unlike rent, which belongs to the landlord, security deposits belong to the tenants. Landlords “hold” the security deposit for the tenant and may only deduct from it for specific reasons, and non-refundable holding fee is not one of them.
How to Approach Move In With Your Security Deposit in Mind
It is incredibly easy nowadays to take pictures because everyone carries a cell phone, and all the new smart phones have cameras. I recommend that BOTH landlord and tenant take pictures of the condition of the property during move in. Keep the pictures somewhere you can find them later. You may need to refer to them when moving out. The condition of the property when you received it sets the precedent for how the property should be returned. In the event of a disagreement, pictures are worth 1,000 words.
Usually during move in, the tenant requests fixes or ask for permission to make changes. In my experience, I find that New tenants expect everything in their new place to be working and are pickier than long term tenants, especially if they are paying higher rents.
For Move in fixes, try to set a realistic time line for repairs with the tenant, and prioritize the most important things first. The little stuff sometimes just goes away. As a landlord, once a tenant has moved in and is settled, I do not replace consumables like light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, garage remote batteries, or HVAC vent screens but I will make sure the tenant has a fresh set when they move in.
Tenants will often ask for permission to paint the rental the color of their choosing. If you give the tenant permission to paint the unit a new color that is not a neutral such as off white- it may make the unit more difficult to re-rent when the tenant moves out. Be sure to clarify with the tenant, if you give them permission to paint the unit, who is responsible for painting the unit back to a neutral color at move out.
Another point with move in is changing the locks. Most landlords I know don’t change the locks between tenants. It is not required. I personally have no problem if the tenants want to change the locks- all that I ask is that they notify me and provide me with a copy of the new key.
Moving Out and Getting Back Your Security Deposit
The move out process begins with the appropriate notice. Some properties in Los Angeles have rent control. Rent control properties have their own move out rules. Evictions too.
For regular situations of serving notice to end a month to month tenancy, or moving out at the end of the lease- the landlord must give the tenant a 30 day notice if the tenant has lived in the property less than 1 year, or a 60 day notice if the tenant has been living in the property more than a year. Tenants on the other hand, are only required to give landlords a 30 day notice. Ca Civil Code 1946.1
I recommend for both Landlords and tenants to do a move out inspection 3-14 days prior to the move out date. The Landlord will be able to assess the condition of the unit, and if there are anything they plan to deduct- it gives the tenant the opportunity to remedy the situation themselves first. Once again, take pictures to document the condition of the way the property was left. If you leave the property in the same condition as you got it, you should expect your entire security deposit back. Lock the property up and return the keys and provide the landlord with your new mailing address, so they can mail you your security deposit check.
Tenants have been waiting a long time and been looking forward to get their security deposit back- in my experience they expect the entire security deposit returned, so if you know you will be deducting something be very clear. By law, landlords have 21 days to return the security deposit after move out. There is nothing that says the landlord can’t return it sooner. If the landlord deducts any expenses from the security deposit they must give an accounting of those expenses. A landlord may only deduct from a security deposit for the following reasons:
Legal Reasons For Security Deposit Deduction:
Repairs beyond normal wear and tear
Cleaning (includes disposal of trash)
Cost to replace lost keys and/or Remotes
What is Normal Wear and Tear?
There is no set definition for normal wear and tear since it can be interpreted so broadly. This can be frustrating. The main idea is that- as things age and are used, they wear out. Even with the most careful use, wear is inevitable. Therefore, normal wear and tear is the reasonable amount of wear to be expected for the time of use. Keep in mind, that if something was already quite old before you moved in, that should be factored in. For understanding wear and tear- I like to think about tires on a car. If you obey all the rules of the road, new tires should last 50,000 miles or 3-4 years. However, if you are racing and squealing out your tires all the time, those tires may only last one year.
Let consider some real estate examples. First Paint: Let’s suppose you lived in an apartment for two years and at the end of the lease when you moved out, there were some scuffs and scratches on the walls from foot traffic and bumping furniture. If all that is required is a little touch-up painting, this would be ordinary wear and tear. Let’s suppose instead, that this apartment was a no smoking rental, and you smoked inside your apartment anyways for two years straight. When you move out, that apartment has a strong cigarette odor, and the walls have yellowish smoke stains. This is beyond normal wear and tear. Or, let’s suppose that you have kids, and the kids were allowed to draw all over the walls. Painting is going to be deducted from your security deposit.
Let’s consider a different example: Carpet. Let’s suppose you moved into your apartment and the carpets were already five years old. They had a few discolored areas and had some excess wear in high traffic areas around the hallways and doors. Three years later you move out, but before you move you have the carpets professionally cleaned. The landlord may not charge you for brand new carpets. It may be true that the carpets do need to be replaced (carpet lasts 8-10 years on average) but that is because of their age, and not because of misuse. No matter how many times a carpet cleaner goes over a patch of old carpet, it is still going to be an old carpet. Carpet cleaning isn’t magical and makes carpet new again. When it is time to replace the carpet, it is time.
Let’s suppose instead that the carpet was 3 years old, and you stayed there for 2 years. When you moved in the carpet was in pretty good condition. While you were living in the apartment your children decided to rollerblade inside the house on the carpets when you were not home, and they are torn and ripped the carpet in several different areas. Then you spilled some wine on the carpet and never cleaned it up. Then you carelessly dropped a hot iron from the ironing board and it melted a portion of the carpet. Then a pet urinated on the carpet. That poor carpet. This has gone way beyond normal wear and tear. When you move out expect money from the security deposit to be deducted for replacing the carpet. However, you should not be responsible for replacing the entire carpet with new carpet, as it is 5 years old now. Let’s say that replacing the carpets costs $3,000 – well since it was 5 years old that should be prorated to half, and you should expect about $1,500 to be deducted from your security deposit.
You are going to have to use some common sense and judgment to figure out what is normal wear versus something extraordinary.
Security Deposit Disputes
There are two disputes than can arise with security deposits: the landlord has suffered damage in excess of the security deposit from the tenant and seeks the difference (much more common with commercial leases), or the tenant feels that the landlord has made unlawful deductions to their security deposit and wants money returned (much more common with residential leases).
In most cases, for residential leases, the security deposit is less than $10,000. For civil disputes of $10,000 or less for an individual or $5,000 or less for an LLC, those cases go to small claims court. You may want to go to small claims court anyway even if the security deposit is larger than $10,000 because there are no lawyers in small claims court, which greatly reduces legal fees, and it’s a lot faster to get a trial date and the process is simpler.
Security Deposit FAQs
Q: What happens to my security deposit once I give it to my landlord?
A: The answer is- you don’t want to know. Most mom and pop landlords spend it, lose track of it, and forget about it until they get a 30-day notice from the tenant, and then they have to scramble to come up with the money before the tenant moves out. If you have had a bad experience with a landlord unfairly withholding your security deposit in the past, I recommend asking the landlord before you rent, how often they deduct from security deposits when tenants move out. Professionally managed apartments handle security deposits fairly.
Q: What happens if the property is sold?
A: What usually happens is the current owner transfers the security deposits to the new owner at the time of sale. The new owner would then be responsible for returning the security deposit to the tenants when they move out. Sometimes when a new owner takes over, they ask for increased security deposits (and increased rents too!).
Q: I don’t know the new mailing address of my tenant who moved out- where do I send the security deposit accounting?
A: All you are required to do as a landlord is mail the accounting to the tenant’s last known address. If the tenant left and did not inform you of their new mailing address then you should mail the accounting to the leased property’s address. Most tenants have the post office forward mail to their new mailing address by filling out a change of address form after they move. If the accounting letter comes back to you marked “undeliverable”, keep it in your records as proof that you attempted to send an accounting. I would try contacting the tenant first by calling or emailing them (if you are on friendly terms) to find out their new mailing address before sending it to their old one.
Q: I have never done an accounting of the tenant’s security deposit before is there a special form or way to do it?
The burden of proof is on the landlord if there is ever a dispute. So you need to prove if you do deduct something from the security deposit that it was warranted. There are no special forms, I have seen landlords just type something up on a word document on their computer or write a letter by hand. There are some important information that should be on the accounting- 1) Date 2) Property Address 3) Tenant Name 4) the amount of the security deposit 5) any deductions. Deductions should have the amount and a description. 6) Balance of Security Deposit. If you have estimates or bids, for work done or to be done for the deductions those are good to include also.
Q: I just bought a building and the rental units have low/no security deposits- how do I collect more security deposits?
A: While tenants are on a lease you cannot collect an additional security deposit, however, after the lease term is over, or if the leases are month to month, then you can request an increased security deposit by having the tenant sign a new 1-year lease.
Q: I have two tenants who are roommates, and one of the tenants is moving out. Do I as a landlord need to return half of the security deposit to the tenant moving out?
A: No, in a roommate situation, both tenants are responsible jointly and severally- which basically means even though they are each 1/2 of the lease, they are both responsible for all of it. So when one roommate moves out, you should tell that roommate to settle any security deposit issues with their other roommate, because the lease is still continuing if either one of them stays.
Security Deposits can sometimes be complex. I want to simplify it. Please reach out with any questions or concerns by clicking the button below.
Everything You Need to Know About Advertising Rental Properties in Southern Los Angeles
Turning a unit quickly when a vacancy comes up is important to keep the rent coming in and the bills paid. If you have a property management company their leasing agent or onsite property manager will handle taking pictures and leasing the unit for you. For Mom & Pop landlords doing it yourself, I have some advice for advertising and getting your unit rented quick!
Remember: You should be screening your applicants before approving a tenant.
My goal is always to fill a vacancy in a month or less. If the unit hasn’t leased after a month, you should consider lowering the price because you are probably priced too high. The reason you don’t want your unit sitting empty is that losing a whole month’s rent may be more expensive than lowering the rent. Consider your cost breakeven point: If you have a 2br unit that rents out for $1,750 a month and it sits vacant for 1 month, you lost $1,750 income. Divide that $1,750 by twelve and you see that each month of vacancy costs you the same as $150 each month over the year.
Lowering the rent to $1,600 and renting the unit immediately is probably better than stubbornly holding out for $1,750- especially if it means you will get more applications and end up renting to a better tenant. After two months vacancy, even if you did rent out for $1,750, it would be effectively the same as renting for $1,450 when you consider the lost income.
I recommend starting advertising a rental property as soon as your tenant gives you their 30-day notice. I like to add a provision in my lease that says I can show units for lease with 48 hours notice to the tenant, which includes during the weekends between the hours of 11am-6pm. There is nothing better than having the unit re-rented before the current tenant has even left!
My marketing Budget for a vacancy is $500.
To begin your marketing efforts, you need GOOD PHOTOS of the unit and the building, and the amenities (if there are amenities). The photos do not have to be professionally done, I’d rather not spend any money- but take the pictures with your cell phone camera or digital camera is fine. The more photos the better. Get a couple of different angles of the important rooms, like the kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. The better the pictures, the more calls you will get from your online listings.
Next, write a great description. Try to make it personal and not too technical. Talk about how great it is to live in the area, and explain why your unit is a great home. This is just a start to help you when it comes to advertising rental properties. Keep reading for specific strategies!
1. Use the Web for Advertising Rental Properties
The internet is the #1 way renters search for an apartment these days and the internet is your best place to advertise. With the world wide web- you can reach people moving to Los Angeles from Pittsburg! it’s amazing. Best of all, it’s free.
Here are Websites I would place the listing, ranked in order of importance:
Sorry, most rental websites don’t allow roommate listings. Apartment.com’s network websites don’t allow roommate postings. Neither does Zillow, but Trulia does and Trulia will automatically sync to Hotpads.com.
Some other roommate websites you can post a vacancy:
Putting up a for rent sign is a classic and still one of the best ways to get the word out about a rental. Many prospective renters will be driving around in the neighborhoods they want to live and will write down numbers and call off for rent signs. You can choose a modest for rent sign that you can buy at a hardware store, or for bigger buildings get a Marquis or Banner. Real Estate Agents have a variety of yard signs from a Post as pictured above, to smaller signs.
3. Ask your Current Tenants for Referrals
If you have great tenants, chances are they have friends, and their friends would be great tenants too. I like to offer a referral fee of $500 if a tenant in the building refers me a good tenant that I end up renting to. A good way to do this is to post a notice in a conspicuous place around the property, like a bulletin board or elevator, or send an email to your tenant’s announcing it.
4. Hold an Open House
Get some flags, or signs and do like real estate agents do and hold an open house! People walking around the neighborhood or driving around will stop by and take a look. This is a great method in the spring and summer months when lots of people are out and about. I would hold the open house for 3 hours, anytime between 11 am and 5 pm. Make sure you have applications ready if anybody wants to fill one out!
5. Hire a Real Estate Agent or Management Company
Don’t want to do it yourself? Property Management Companies and Real Estate Agents can help you rent your unit. They usually have their own website that they can post on and have access to local mls: www.themls.com. Property Management Companies will want $500, and Real Estate Agents want 5%-10% of the 1st year’s rent (I charge my clients 6%).
Property Management Companies will want $500, and Real Estate Agents want 5%-10% of the 1st year’s rent.
6. Print Advertising
The most expensive and my lease favorite method when it comes to advertising rental properties is print. You will most likely spend your entire advertising budget on just one ad. Print Advertising is not cost-effective for leases under $3,000 a month. Pick up your local paper and have them put something in there.
In tough rental markets, offering a move-in special like “1-month free rent” can be a great incentive to get a vacancy filled. Lower security Deposit amounts can also be another incentive to offer. The rental market in Los Angeles is hot right now so landlords aren’t making any concessions these days. In fact, it is just the opposite, they are raising rents!
It is tempting when you are having a tough time renting a unit to loosen your screening requirements and rent to someone you normally wouldn’t rent to and is not qualified. Don’t do it- having a unit vacant is much better than having a bad tenant who will upset your good tenants, cause you headaches, and you may have to evict.
If you need help with advertising rental properties or want to speak to an agent to assist you, please click the button below and I will be in touch!
Problem tenants that violate the lease or do not pay rent need to be evicted.
I recommend trying to speak with the tenant face to face, and working it out among yourself before filing an unlawful detainer (fancy name for eviction lawsuit). Tell your tenant “when you did/do ______, you are in violation of the lease. You have X days to find a new place, pack up your things and move out. Otherwise I will contact my eviction attorney and begin an eviction. An eviction goes on your credit report for seven years and it will be hard for you to find a new place to live- I’d like to avoid that so hopefully we can solve this problem ourselves without the need for an eviction.”
If the tenant doesn’t voluntarily vacate the unit the first step to begin an eviction is posting written notice. **WARNING** If you have never posted a notice before I strongly recommend hiring an eviction attorney to do it for you. These notices have very specific information that must be included on them and if you make a mistake, you will have served a defective notice which will not stand up in court. Some examples of common mistakes on 3 day notices are putting late fees as money owed- you can only put the rent. Another mistake is not filling out the business hours and times that rent can be delivered.
There are two different types of notices; notices that are correctable (such as pay rent or remedy breach) and non-correctable (landlord is moving into a unit, notification of termination of tenancy, or property is being demolished). For eviction notices that are correctable, the law requires 3 day notice. If the notice is not correctable, then a 30-day or 60-day is required.
3 Day Notice to Remedy Breach– tenant has breached the lease (example: lease says ‘no pets’ and now tenant has a pet, the tenant has subleased their apartment without authorization, unauthorized storage), damaged the property, has been a serious nuisance to other tenants or neighbors (creating loud noise, throwing parties), using the rental for illegal purposes such as selling drugs, tenant who has no lease or is on month to month lease and refuses to sign a 1 year lease.
30 Day Notice to Vacate– Landlords giving tenant notice to end month to month lease. (if the Property is for sale, is a house or condo, and is in escrow, a 30 day notice to vacate may be used instead of 60 day).
60 Day Notice to Vacate– Landlord giving tenant notice to end month to month lease where the tenant has rented the property for a year or more.
An unlawful detainer lawsuit is a “summary” court procedure. This means that the court action moves forward very quickly, and that the time given the tenant to respond during the lawsuit is very short.
Evictions work differently for rent control properties versus non rent controlled properties. The main difference is rent control properties require JUST CAUSE evictions. With a non rent controlled property you can terminate a month to month tenancy at any time with proper notice for any reason. For Los Angeles rent control your eviction must comply with one of the 12 legal reasons for eviction.
#3 – Nuisance, related to illegal drug or gang activity
#4 – Illegal purpose, related to illegal drug or gang activity
#8 – Owner, family member, or resident manager’s occupancy
#10 – Permanent removal & Demolition
#11 – To comply with a governmental order
#12 – HUD eviction
Posted notice to pay or quit
The Notice must be properly served to the tenant. Methods to Serve notice are:
Personally deliver (how have someone over the age of 18 deliver) notice to the tenant + send it to them via certified mail
Send notice via certified mail + post notice on their door (take a dated picture of the posted notice for your records at the time of posting)
When the time period of your notice is expired, you may file an unlawful detainer lawsuit with the civil court. The filing fee for an unlawful detainer varies from $250-$400.
Hire an eviction attorney! They cost $600-$1,000 and are worth every cent. Your eviction attorney can file the unlawful detainer and make sure your 3 day notice is not defective. Unlawful Detainer usually take 8-10 weeks to get a ruling if they are uncontested and 12-14 weeks if they are contested. Once an Unlawful detainer has been filed, the tenant has 5 days to respond- if they do not file an answer, they cannot appear in court, and you will win a default judgement.
The tenant may respond to the unlawful detainer by filing an “answer”. Should the tenant answer then a trial date will be set. The court clerk must schedule a trial within 20 days of request.
Eviction trials are short- they usually take less than an hour.
Prepare before going to court. Make sure you have read up on the relevant law relating to your case, have the rental agreement, payment slips, pictures, and any other evidence ready to submit. Talk with any witnesses that will collaborate your story and schedule them to testify, if you are relying on someone elses testimony make sure they appear- your testimony of speaking in their words can be ruled out as heresay. Most importantly let your lawyer handle the proceedings and show up early the day of the trial, you case might be bumped and you don’t want to miss it.
The sheriff is the only person who may legally remove a tenant from a their rental. It may be tempting as landlord to try to physically remove the tenant yourself- or change the locks, cut off the utilities, or remove their front door. If you try a strong armed tactic like this, the tenant can file a complaint and you may find yourself in hot water. Let the eviction attorney and sheriff handle the eviction- if the tenant wants to fight with the sheriff, they will be resisting arrest and assaulting an officer.
As the landlord who has won an eviction case, the court will order the sheriff to take possession of the rental. The sheriff will post a 5 day notice to move out on the tenant’s door. During this time the tenant can voluntarily leave. After 5 days from this posting the tenant must be moved out or the sheriff will come and physically remove them. This is called a lock out. When the Sheriff removes the tenant, you may change the locks immediately with your locksmith and regain possession of the unit. Any of the tenants belongings that are left behind may immediately be moved into storage. If the tenant does not show up to collect their belongings, you can have them declared abandoned.