As a California attorney representing landlords, I see a lot of scenarios pop up. I find myself thinking, “If only the landlord would have done _______, they would have protected themselves and probably wouldn’t be in the situation they are in now.”
The purpose of this post will be to provide recommendations for Los Angeles and California landlords, from an attorney perspective.
- Before allowing a tenant into your home, have the prospective tenant fill out a credit / rental application.
- Check the credit and call the tenant’s references. Check for prior evictions. Do your due diligence now to minimize the possibility for problems later.
- If you tenant passes the rental application phase, then put the rental agreement in writing and have it signed. Review the terms with your tenant. Make sure the lease says what you want it to say! Many landlords purchase generic leases that have clauses that don’t apply, are inapplicable, or are even illegal in California. The Law Office of David Piotrowski can create a California residential lease template for your use.
- Have a “Repair Request” form for tenants to fill out if they need repairs. Don’t allow for oral repair requests.
- Keep written receipts or an itemized list of repairs.
- Don’t allow the tenant to make repairs and deduct from the rent. It’s much better if the tenant pays the agreed rent and the landlord makes the repairs or hires a professional.
- Make sure your rental unit is “legal.” For example, don’t rent out an illegal garage conversion and make sure you have a certificate of occupancy for the unit.
- Don’t allow the tenant to tell you they will pay you “later.” I have way too many cases where the landlord tries to work with the tenant and before you know it, four months have gone by and the tenant still has not paid the rent, and the landlord just lost four months of rent.
For help with a landlord / tenant issue in Los Angeles and throughout California, please contact the Law Office of David Piotrowski.