Top 5 Tips To Protect Landlords

Q. When can I legally change the locks?

In California, you cannot change the locks on a tenant's apartment until you have formally evicted them. Changing the locks to prevent a tenant from entering is an illegal lockout. Once you have evicted the tenant or the tenant's lease is over, you may change the locks.

Q. What steps can I take if there are more than the allowed number of tenants?

Some tenants try to get away with having long-term guests or other occupants stay with them. If your lease limits the number of residents per unit, you can evict tenants who do not comply.

However, your lease must comply with fair housing regulations regarding the number of tenants per unit. As long as your lease complies with the law, you can convict tenants who violate it with excessive occupants.

Q. What can I legally do if the neighbors complain of parties/drugs on the rental or leased property?

When neighbors complain about a tenant's noise levels, you should first discuss the issue with the tenant. But if the matter persists, it is time to escalate your actions. Disruptive behavior may violate the conditions of the lease. In some cases, it may also violate local nuisance laws. If you have given your tenant fair notice regarding their noise levels, then you may proceed with an eviction.

Illegal activity is also grounds for eviction. In fact, landlords in California need to only give three days' notice to tenants who have violated the law. However, you must have a preponderance of evidence that your tenant has conducted illegal activity before you evict them.

Carefully document your suspicions as well as any complaints from neighbors and other tenants. Then, contact local law enforcement, inform them of your suspicions and present your evidence. When you can confirm that the tenant possessed, used or sold illegal drugs, you can begin the eviction.

Q. How can I vet prospective tenants?

Screening prospective tenants is crucial to finding trustworthy renters. You can screen applicants by checking their credit history, contacting references, running background checks, and asking questions about their behaviors and habits as renters.

However, you may not reject applicants based on race, religion, nation of origin, sex, familial status or disability — these categories are protected under federal law. Prospective renters may file discrimination lawsuits against landlords whom they suspect rejected them because of one of these categories.

Q. How often can I physically inspect the property?

Landlords in California may only inspect properties in case of an emergency, if the apartment has been abandoned, to make repairs or improvements, or to show unit to a prospective tenant. This means that landlords cannot conduct random inspections or inspect the property as many times as they want to.

Remember that before you inspect a rental unit, you must give the tenant at least 24 hours' notice. You can walk or drive by the property to inspect its outside any time you like. As an experienced landlords' right attorney, I can offer you the legal advice you need to protect your property.

Discuss Your Tenant Issues With A Lawyer

If you are a landlord who needs legal advice, contact the Law Offices of Joshua B. Clark in Sacramento. As an experienced landlords' rights attorney, I can assist you with a wide variety of issues that landlords face every day. Call 916-229-8356 or contact me online.