Monthly Archives: March 2016

Know Your Fair Housing Rights: Part 2

Please read Know Your Fair Housing Rights: Part 1 here.

If your housing rights have been violated, you have legal recourse through the Fair Housing Act, a federal measure to ensure that everyone has access to housing, regardless of race, gender, age or disability. In order to begin the process, you must contact the U.S. Department of Housing and Development (HUD) to file a claim in a 7 step process.

1. Intake

Filing a claim costs nothing and can be done by either individuals or a community group. Complaints can be made online or over the phone and after it is processed, an intake specialist will contact you for an interview to get more of the facts and then decide whether to take the process further.

2. Filing

Once HUD accepts the claim and decides to investigate, a formal complaint will be drafted and sent to you to be signed. Within 10 days of its return, HUD will send the respondent (the landlord in question) notice that a complaint has been filed, after which he/she must respond.

3. Investigation

HUD will interview both the complainant and the respondent as well as any other witnesses pertinent to case. This process may also include onsite visits and the collection of relevant documentation.

4. Conciliation

The Fair Housing Act requires that each party be brought together to make an attempt at conciliation. This is voluntary, and if the complaint can be worked out on this level, the case will be closed. If either party breaches the agreement made, HUD can file with the Department of Justice to enforce it.

5. No Cause Determination

If an investigation yields no proof or reasonable cause the discrimination has occurred, a determination of “no reasonable cause” will be made and the case closed. You can disagree with this finding and request reconsideration through the Director of the Office of Enforcement, which will notify all the parties of the new interest in the case and invite them to submit any new evidence or documentation. If HUD affirms its original finding, no further action will be taken. If they choose to re-open the case, conciliation and investigation will resume. If you still disagree with HUD’s no cause determination, you must then file a civil court action in the appropriate district court.

6. Cause Determination and Change

If the results of HUD’s investigation indicate that discrimination is present, a determination of “reasonable cause” will be issued to the respondent charging him with violating the law. After the charge is listed, A HUD Administrative Judge will hear the case, unless the claimant and defendant prefer to bring the case to a U.S. district court.

7. U.S. District Court

Within 30 days, the Department of Justice will commence legal action. This court can award punitive and actual damages as well as attorney’s fees. Hearing Before a HUD Administrative Judge (ALJ) – An attorney from HUD will represent you and the ALJ decides the case and makes the decision. The maximum civil penalty is $16,000 for a first offence. This is in addition to the attorney’s fees and injunctive or equitable relief damages. The defendant can petition the secretary of HUD for review, but after 30 days, it must go to the court of appeals.

On one hand, it is clear that the claimant process, while user friendly, is also a time, energy and even financial commitment. In my discrimination experiences as a single mother, it was easier for me to simply move on to other places and keep the legal side out of it, but this very attitude is why some landlords are able to carry on however they want. Reporting discrimination may be a good way to do your part to ensure that landlords and rental companies are held to federal standards.

  • The number for filing claims is (1-800-669-9777).
  • The online link for filing claims is here.
  • The address to mail your claim is your HUD regional office and the list can be found here under “Contact Your Local Offices.”

The post Know Your Fair Housing Rights: Part 2 appeared first on RentPrep.

Hindenburg Feedback


I received far more feedback than I could print. So much so, this newsletter is devoted entirely to feedback on Don Wagner’s Hindenburg bill (AB 1720).

Blocked Emails. Readers were frustrated because Mr. Wagner blocked their emails. Following is feedback from one of many:

If Wagner is not accepting comments, why he is making laws and regulations affecting all California HOAs? As a board member, I do not agree with his proposal. -Martha M.

RESPONSE: Since Mr. Wagner seems uninterested in our input, we can go to the Chair of the Assembly Committee that will consider his bill. You can write your own email or cut and paste the sample below and send it to OpposeAB1720@caiclac.com. Your emails will then be delivered to the Committee. Make sure to add your name and address to the bottom of your email.

*****

Honorable David Chiu
Chair of Assembly Housing & Community Development
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Chairman Chiu,

Please vote “NO” on AB 1720 (Wagner). The bill mandates that owners’ lawyers can attend homeowner association board meetings. Doing so will increase legal expenses and chill open discussion of homeowner business.

This is an unwarranted disruption of operations and will greatly intimidate volunteer board members.

In addition, the bill violates State Bar Rules of Professional Conduct which forbid one party’s attorney from addressing another party without permission from that party’s attorney. (Rule 2-100.)

Members who want legal representation already utilize attorneys without interrupting meetings and violating State Bar rules. AB 1720 is harmful and unnecessary.

Please vote “NO.” Thank you for considering my position.

*****

Following is a sampling of the feedback I received:

Hindenburg #1. Please do NOT leave this bill alone. Keep on it. This bill is one of the single worst ideas I have ever heard. To the extent a legal representative shows up at our meeting, we will not discuss anything that could possibly relate to any reason as to why they are there unless our own legal representative is present. To that end, more work instead of less will be discussed in executive session (obviously there is a potential for pending litigation or else that legal representative would not be present) and transparency would be greatly diminished. -Randy W.

Hindenburg #2. Can’t believe this idiot Orange County Assembly person is proposing something like this! He must have a connection with lawyer lobbyists that are looking for another way to make money on our backs. -Kathleen E.

Hindenburg #3. Your newsletter is brilliant. I read every one and chuckle at your delightfully amusing comments. Thank You! -Liz D.

Hindenburg #4. Should the Wagner bill pass, what proof of legal representation may (or should) the board request to verify the standing of an attorney attending a board or association meeting? -Carol C.

ANSWER: Rather than get into a tussle over credentials, accept him/her at their word and immediately adjourn the meeting and reschedule to another date when the association’s attorney can attend.

Hindenburg #5. As always, I enjoy reading your newsletter. In regards to Assembly Bill 1720: I can see how frustrated homeowners get with property managers or board members controlling others. In this case, AB 1720 will cause these bullying volunteers and property managers to shape up or ship out. I’m for AB 1720. It’s time for ethical non-bullying people to take charge and for the unethical bullying people to be held accountable. -Ted S.

RESPONSE: Using a canon to kill flies also works. AB 1720 is in the same category. If an unhappy owner wants to make a statement, their lawyer can send a letter. It’s a lot less costly and disruptive.

Hindenburg #6. When the government can screw up your life they will make it a top priority. When it comes to actually solving a problem, they might get to it someday. -Finn M.

Hindenburg #7. It is my understanding that the Hindenburg was filled with hydrogen because the U.S. refused to sell non-flammable helium to Germany. Am I wrong? -Jim K.

RESPONSE: You’re right. Helium was hard to obtain, which made it more expensive. So Zepplin decided to use less expensive but highly explosive hydrogen. Cost trumped safety. That’s always a good business model…until it isn’t.

Hindenburg #8. As frightening as it is to contemplate, the Hindenburg was a rigid frame airship which means the passengers, who had individual private suites and access to a variety of public dining and social areas, were actually inside the envelope and not strapped to its underside. That’s why the Hindenburg was so incredibly roomy compared to the frameless blimps we see in the air today. -David K.

Hindenburg #9. I am president of an HOA and an attorney. If AB 1720 passes, I will commence the practice of starting each board meeting by announcing the HOA is represented by legal counsel, giving the name and contact information for that attorney, and instructing any legal counsel present at the meeting to communicate solely through our legal counsel. It will defeat the purpose of AB 1720. Moreover, if an owner’s legal counsel remains at the board meeting at that point and communicates at all with the board during the meeting, they are violating Rule 2-100 of the Rules of Professional Conduct and can be reported to the State Bar. -Neil W.

RESPONSE: That works.

Hindenburg #10. What about small associations like ours? We don’t have legal counsel. We hold our board meetings in an owner’s unit. What are we supposed to do when a lawyer shows up at a meeting? -Roy M.

RESPONSE: Under Wagner’s bill, you must let the lawyer into your unit where he can threaten a lawsuit, scare the daylights out of everyone, and do it all in the comfort of your own home. This is not a good bill and needs to be stopped.

Hindenburg #11. You may be right about the potential problems for associations when owners can bring attorneys; but consider the opposite case where a board is itself the intimidating or manipulative body that takes action to disqualify opposition candidates and then says “lawyer up” to any complaining member? That’s what has happened here on occasion. What recourse is there? -Svein F.

ANSWER: A lawyer letter to the board is quite effective. There is no need to disrupt meetings by sending in lawyers. When that happens, everyone stops attending or brings their own lawyers. An empty meeting or one filled with lawyers–neither is a good outcome.

Hindenburg #12. What is your view when one or more owners are in fact “lawyers”? Especially if said owners are not following rules, policies, or committee recommended practices. When “lawyer owners” speak for or against items in forums are they not intimidating to board or other owners? – Clyde B.

RESPONSE: Homeowners who are lawyers can attend. They are attending meetings as owners. If they are retained by another homeowner and switch hats so that they are now attending as a lawyer, that’s a problem.

Hindenburg #13. I’d be curious (and I’m sure so would your other readers) as to what purpose this law would serve if approved, what problem is it trying to solve? Or is this just a giveaway to the Assemblyman’s attorney donors? -Kevin W.

RESPONSE: It solves no problems–it only creates them. What’s next? The state orders that lawyers attend committee meetings and go on maintenance walks?

Hindenburg #14. I’ve served on business boards which, upon appearance of an attorney, immediately suspended the board meeting. Highly threatening, disruptive and unnecessary. A possible plaintiff can take action in any event. -Larry F.

RESPONSE:
The state ordering attorneys at meetings is highly disruptive and completely unnecessary.

Hindenburg #15. I can’t imagine why anyone would introduce legislation of the nature Paul Wagner did unless it is to drum up business for the legal profession. Mr. Wagner is not doing HOAs any service with his proposed legislation. Many people are intimidated by lawyers which will likely result in fewer people willing to serve on a board. Some lawyers are very bombastic and it will create chaos. Such lawyers will use the Bruce Cutler approach with boards and ‘Brucerize’ them. Some HOAs will want to have the association’s lawyer attend a board meeting where an attorney will be present. This could result in the board finding it necessary to increase the monthly dues to cover legal costs. Everyone loses except the lawyer representing a homeowner. -John A.

RESPONSE: I had to look up Bruce Cutler. I discovered he is the criminal defense lawyer who defended mobster John Gotti and is known for his hyper-aggressive courtroom antics. I don’t think we will get any mob lawyers attending board meetings but I have no doubt we will get aggressive ones. You’re right, only the lawyers win if this passes.

Hindenburg #16. As a homeowner…..I SUPPORT this bill 100%. Board attorneys come to board meetings, so should a private attorney be allowed to attend. Right now HOA boards one sided against homeowners who have no choice in being members, and no representation from the government when boards are abusive and non conforming to the governing documents. I pray this bill is passed. -Rebecca C.

RESPONSE: You’re dead wrong on members not having representation. They already have the right to hire lawyers and, believe me, they do. We deal with threatening letters all the time and advise boards on the proper course of action. That might mean telling a board to shape up or advising them how to deal with a bully homeowner. Creating a lawyer free-for-all at board meetings is not the answer.

Hindenburg #17. Quite honestly, I am in favor of the Wagner bill at this point. I am a retired Los Angeles Police Detective 31 years and wonder why an unqualified person was re-elected and as president told me, expletive, he never heard of the Davis-Stirling Act and would run the association like he wanted to. -Harold R.

RESPONSE: The problem you describe is one created by and perpetuated by the membership. They elected him because no one else is willing to sacrifice their time to serve on the board. Sending lawyers to board meetings will not fix this problem, it will only make it worse.

Hindenburg #18. As the past president of an HOA I know that having an attorney at board meetings would severely limit participation not only in the meeting but on standing committees and the board itself. Thank you for drawing our attention to this important matter. -Joshua R.

Hindenburg #19. Nanny GOVT in our community. Another law mandating how we should live in our neighborhood. Four other dispute remedies already exist. Where’s the big problem? -SD

RESPONSE: Wagner is attempting a costly fix a problem that does not exist.

Hindenburg #20. AB 1720 would violate our bylaws in that only shareholders are allowed to attend board meetings of our coop. I can just see how a shareholder close to being adjudged a vexatious litigant would bring activities to a halt. -Eric D.

RESPONSE: Mr. Wagner’s bill will override all governing documents in the state and invade private meetings. He must think associations have governmental immunities and board members are paid professionals with large staffs. Nothing could be further from the truth. Boards are staffed by volunteers who would just as soon resign than be further abused by an invasion of lawyers. This bill will not benefit anyone except lawyers.

Hindenburg #21. Regarding the latest newsletter (which I find truly worthwhile reading), allowing lawyers into the inner sanctum comes about because of the abuse of both the board of directors and some of the association members who don’t like the rules. Boards use executive sessions to obscure too many important issues. Why can’t we all get along? -Ken W.

RESPONSE: Allowing lawyers to attend board meetings will only drive more issues into executive session. AB 1720 does not solve problems, it only creates more.

Hindenburg #22. Great newsletter! The Hindenburg was a great analogy. -Laura W.

Hindenburg #23. Thank you for your newsletter regarding AB 1720. I agree with all your comments. I receive a lot of praise from homeowners for serving as a board member. I recognize that things don’t always run smoothly in our community of 330 homes and I stay cheerful when problems have to be dealt with. But, as a volunteer, I’d resign the second a homeowner sent their lawyer to a board meeting. Nobody is paying me for that kind of hassle! –Mark H.

RESPONSE: That is exactly my concern. It is already incredibly difficult to find qualified members willing to sacrifice their time to serve on the board. Who would want to do it with lawyers publicly breathing down their necks?

Hindenburg #24. The bill does not state that a member’s attorney can speak at a meeting; neither does it declare said attorney may not speak at a meeting. The specter of bullying and lecturing seems less than factual. –Dan M.

RESPONSE: By the nature of our profession, lawyers are advocates. What is the point of creating legislation allowing attorneys to attend meetings if they can’t speak for their clients? Even if the bill were amended to prohibit lawyers from speaking, their mere presence suppresses free and open discussion.

Hindenburg #25. This bill states “where possible,” the member shall give the board at least 48 hours advance written notice that his or her attorney will attend the board meeting. What does “where possible” mean? That is very confusing to me. –Patsy O.

ANSWER: Exactly! Give people a loophole and they will take it. Nothing good will come from this bill.

Hindenburg #26. Good letter as always. Just a side note, my family possesses a knife and a fork from the Hindenburg. My Great Uncle (grandmom’s brother) was stationed at Lakehurst when she blew up. The following days, all the ship’s belongings were picked up; the liner refused to take them, so those stationed there just hung onto them. Over the years, we’ve added some photos to the collection. You’re correct, this is a bad bill. -Joseph L.

RESPONSE: Having debris from a disaster brings it closer to home. Maybe Mr. Wagner can send us something from his. I urge everyone to oppose Wagner’s bill by sending an email to the Chair of the Housing & Community Development Committee at OpposeAB1720@caiclac.com.

*****


Board Election. Regarding the “Board Election” question in your latest newsletter, why in the world would an HOA go to the trouble and possible expense of having an election that is uncontested? And then to top that off, they don’t even get the intended results–elected board members. If there are only three openings and you have three qualified applicants, they should be elected by acclamation. This is the only process that makes any sense in these types of situations, and eliminates the silliness of someone not being elected because they didn’t vote for themselves. If the HOA’s bylaws require a ballot vote, the first order of business is to change this rule. -Mike S.

RESPONSE: Your common sense approach is now in a bill before the Legislature–AB 1799. It would allow elections by acclamation when the election is uncontested. I will ask everyone to write letters in support when the time is right.

*****
NOW HIRING

I am looking to hire an attorney for our busy Riverside office to help with our growing portfolio of large-scale community associations.

Candidates should have at least 2-5 years transactional legal experience. Litigation is a plus.

If you would like to apply or know a good candidate, please contact me by email.


 
Adrian Adams, Esq.
ADAMS | STIRLING
A Professional Law Corporation

We’re friendly lawyers–boards and managers can reach us at (800) 464-2817 or info@AdamsStirling.com.

Know Your Fair Housing Rights: Part 1

Finding a good rental home means having a good credit score and a reputable rental history. While issues like race, gender, religion or disability should not enter into the equation when a landlord is deciding to rent to you, discrimination is a common issue that goes largely unreported because people don’t know what recourse they have. Discrimination is such a problem that the U.S. created the Fair Housing Act, which protects an individual’s right to rent or own a home, regardless of their race, age, gender, disability, origin or familial status.

Housing Discrimination is Real

Housing discrimination is real and happens every day in this country. When I became a single mom with three small children several years ago, I made the decision to move closer to family. As I called potential rental units, I learned very quickly that if I mentioned my single status, I wouldn’t even get the courtesy of a call back even though I had impeccable references and my credit checked out.

At the time, I recognized that I was being discriminated against, but I had no idea what to do about it. In order to secure a place in a safe neighborhood, close to an ideal school, I ultimately had to have a family member co-sign my lease. While I understand that the stigma for many single parent families includes financial struggles, which a landlord may not want to deal with, there was nothing in my history to deny me a chance to rent on my own.

Knowing your rights is important when it comes to either renting or purchasing a home and the Fair Housing Act covers most properties, with the exception of single family houses rented or sold without a broker, member operated private clubs and owner occupied buildings with less than four units. Fair Housing is designed to make sure that everyone has access to the kind of home that is right for them and their family.

What Is Prohibited?

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD):

In the Sale and Rental of Housing: No one may take any of the following actions based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status or handicap:

  • Refuse to rent or sell housing
  • Refuse to negotiate for housing
  • Make housing unavailable
  • Deny a dwelling
  • Set different terms, conditions or privileges for sale or rental of a dwelling
  • Provide different housing services or facilities
  • Falsely deny that housing is available for inspection, sale, or rental
  • For profit, persuade owners to sell or rent (blockbusting) or
  • Deny anyone access to or membership in a facility or service (such as a multiple listing service) related to the sale or rental of housing.

In Addition: It is illegal for anyone to:

  • Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
  • Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.

For more detail about the specifics of the Fair Housing Act, visit the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) website.

What Can You Do?

While the tenets of the Fair Housing Act are designed to protect you from discrimination, it is ultimately
up to you to determine what action you want to take and how deeply you intend to delve into the issue.
One of the reasons housing discrimination goes unreported is because it takes time and potential legal
action to prove it.

During my own housing search, I complained to a friend that owned several rental properties in another state. He admitted that he was more hesitant to rent to single mothers, or even just single women, not because of financial issues, but because he assumed that they would need more help than men when it came to the upkeep of the little things around the property like unclogging a sink, but it was never a reason he would have admitted to an actual potential tenant.

If you have been the subject of housing discrimination and you want to take action, knowing what steps
to take is as important as knowing your rights in the first place. Part 2 of this article series will help you
get started.

The post Know Your Fair Housing Rights: Part 1 appeared first on RentPrep.

10 Trends Driving the Next Decade of Home Design

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey, REALTOR® Magazine Over the next 10 years, expect functionality, accessibility, and sustainability to be major themes guiding the look of homes. That could include everything from embracing healthier building materials and furnishings to homes that are designed to be more resilient to bad weather. More than 500 residential architects offered their […]

Legislative Day at the Capitol and Volunteer Thank you!

It’s that time of year again! It’s time for CAI-California Legislative Action Committee (CLAC) members to come together in Sacramento for the 2016 Legislative Day at the Capitol. None of CLAC’s work could be done without the stellar volunteers working on committees, in their chapters and at the Capitol. Every year we take time at Legislative Day to recognize outstanding chapter volunteers for their service to CLAC above and beyond the call of duty. This year we had an additional opportunity to say thank you through the Duncan McPherson Scholarships.

Volunteer of the Year
CLAC is pleased to announce eight nominations were received and considered by the Award and Scholarship Selection Subcommittee, which is comprised of the CLAC Chair, CLAC Vice-Chair and CLAC PR Chair, as voting members. The CLAC Advocate and CLAC Administrative Coordinator also participated in the discussion. The winner will be selected based upon the nominee’s work in promoting CLAC within his or her chapter.

This year’s nominees include Legislative Support Committee (LSC) Chairs, PR and Education Committee members, CLAC Subcommittee members, as well as CLAC Delegates and Liaisons and even an Executive Committee member. Accomplishments among this exceptional group of volunteers include embracing and promoting the Buck A Door program, presenting the CLAC Moment at chapter events, encouraging member participation at fundraising and chapter events and leading the chapters’ grassroots efforts, including scheduling and attending local legislator appointments. Additional accomplishments include initiating chapter LSC’s, complete with organizing consistent meeting schedules and encouraging chapter members to participate in the committee. Many of these outstanding volunteers are regulars at Legislative Day at the Capitol and support the event by obtaining sponsorships and encouraging attendee registration.

2015 Volunteer of the Year Award nominees are:
Janet Quinn Dennis with Pro Solutions – Bay Area & Central California Chapter
Darren Bevan, Esq. with Baydaline & Jacobsen LLP – California North Chapter
Tom Murphy with Landmark Limited, LLC – California North Chapter
James Perero, Esq. with Myers, Widders, Gibson, Jones & Feingold, LLP – Channel Islands Chapter
Lana Hamadej, PCAM with Avalon Management (AAMC) – Greater Inland Empire Chapter
Michael Huffman, PCAM with Management Professionals, Inc. (AAMC) – Greater Los Angeles Chapter
Morgen Hardigree with Optimum Professional Property Management, Inc. (ACMF) – Orange County Regional Chapter
Kieran Purcell, Esq. with Epsten Grinnell & Howell, APC – San Diego Chapter

Duncan McPherson Scholarships
In addition to these hardworking volunteers, and new this year, CLAC established a scholarship opportunity for a Community Volunteer Leader or Association Manager to attend the 2016 Legislative Day at the Capitol. This scholarship was created in memory of Duncan McPherson, for his longstanding commitment to California legislation and CLAC. We were able to offer two additional scholarships this year through the generosity of the Orange County Regional Chapter Board of Directors.

While the 2015 Volunteer of the Year winner will remain a secret until it is announced at Legislative Day, the following individuals were selected, among the many deserving applicants, to receive the three Duncan McPherson Scholarships:

Pat King is a Community Volunteer Leader (CVL) and President of the Board at Solera Oak Valley Greens in Beaumont – Greater Inland Empire Chapter
Christine Schwartz is also a CVL and President of the Board at The Club in Sun City – Greater Inland Empire Chapter
Clint Atherton is a manager at Outdoor Resort Palm Springs Owners Assoc. – Coachella Valley Chapter

Thank you to all our volunteers for everything you do to make CLAC run smoothly and effectively. Please join CLAC in thanking these outstanding nominees and scholarship recipients.

We look forward to seeing you all at the 2016 Legislative Day at the Capitol on April 17th and 18th in Sacramento to congratulate our Volunteer of the Year nominees and winner in person. The 2015 CLAC Volunteer of the Year will be named during Monday’s Award Ceremony.

Wendy Van Messel

Wendy Van Messel

 

Ms. Van Messel began her career in the common interest development industry in 2008, as a business partner. After a stint on the sales side, Wendy was offered an administrative assistant position with Desert Resort Management in Palm Desert, CA, and later the Chapter Executive Director (CED) position with the Coachella Valley Chapter of Community Associations Institute (CAI-CV), which she began in September 2010. Since 2013, she has been the Administrative Coordinator for CAI-CLAC.


How Landlords Can Handle Long-Term Guests

Much has been written about the importance of getting your tenant to understand the lease agreement. By signing it, you both agree to abide by the contract and you both have a place to start when and if any disputes arise. However, when the tenant allows guests to stay in the rental unit for long periods of time, it’s like having a tenant that is exempt from those rules and puts you in a situation where you have little recourse.

If you have experienced problems with long-term guests, you may have learned the hard way that unless you have some solid language in the lease agreement regarding long-term stays, it can be very difficult to get your tenant to comply.

Who is Considered a Long-Term Guest?

In short, anyone who has signed your lease agreement is a tenant and anyone who has not is a guest. At first glance, it may not seem like that big of a deal for your tenant to have long-term guests stay at the rental property. You might be thinking of a significant other who stays over a few nights per week, or a situation where they host family members from out of town for a week or two.

Of course, these instances are generally fine and non-intrusive, but most landlords have heard horror stories of long-term guests that have caused a number of problems. In fact, in some states, if a person stays in a rental property long enough, they can actually gain some kinds of tenant or squatter’s rights and must go through an eviction as well, even if they have never signed a lease agreement. The liability is enormous if you have someone living in a rental property you own that isn’t in any kind of legal agreement with you.

The biggest problem with a long-term guest is that you will not be able to do the appropriate screening that you would for a tenant. You won’t know what this person’s criminal or work background is, nor what they are like as a tenant or neighbor. In the event of damage, noise or any other lease violation, you would have no real ground to stand on for “evicting” them, collecting damages or enforcing the lease agreement. There’s just no good reason to allow long-term guests, and if you neglect to add a clause about them to the lease agreement, you are jeopardizing both you and your property. In other words, you are providing a place to live to a person who is not on the lease agreement and bound to the property in any legal way.

Examples of long-term guests might include:

  • A girlfriend or boyfriend moving in.
  • A buddy who will be staying just until they “get on their feet again.”
  • A family member on an extended vacation.
  • Retired parents who plan on staying several months.
  • A subletter that your tenant contracted with.
  • Anyone your tenant is “renting a room” to via companies like Airbnb.

Also, there’s no limit to the number of long-term guests that your tenant may invite, further compounding the problem. In order for you to enforce and uphold the rules and conditions you’ve outlined in the lease agreement, you must have all the adults in the unit listed there with their signature.

5 Tips On Dealing With Long-Term Guests

Whether you have discovered your tenant is hosting guests or you want to prevent such a scenario for the future, there are plenty of things that landlords can do to deal with long-term guests.

Here are 5 tips on making sure that you are doing everything you can to reduce or eliminate long-term guests at your rental property.

1. Include Appropriate Language in the Lease Agreement

If your lease agreement doesn’t already include a clause about long-term guests, it’s time to amend it. Make sure you are clear about overnight guests and your expectations. For example, you may want to state that one or two guests staying for less than 7 consecutive nights don’t need permission, but any guest who will be staying longer than 7 nights must get written permission from the landlord.

Another option is to limit the consecutive nights that a guest can stay to 2 or 3. This can prevent boyfriends or girlfriends from slowly becoming permanent residents without your knowledge. Yet another example might be to limit guests to no more than 14 days in a 6-month period. No matter what you decide, make sure the language is clear and that you are in compliance with any state laws.

2. Treat Subletting Differently

Too many landlords have gotten burned by tenants who sublet to others, or run a “hotel” business on the side via Airbnb. Subletting should have its own clause in the lease agreement, and should clearly state that it is either not allowed or else outline your conditions for it. Many landlords nowadays are expressly forbidding temporary paying guests via Airbnb in the lease agreement as well.

3. Talk With The Tenant

If the tenant approaches you to request permission for a guest to stay past your agreed-upon terms, listen to what they have to say. You may consider granting permission for an out-of-state family member who is visiting, but not their out-of-work buddy who needs to crash somewhere. If you do give permission, make sure you are both clear on the terms of the stay and when the guest will be leaving.

Make sure to follow up with the tenant to ensure the guest is indeed gone. Before granting permission, remind the tenant that they are responsible for the guest’s behavior, including any damages to the rental. If the tenant wants to add a roommate or live with a significant other and you tentatively agree that it’s ok, start the application process the right way with the guest and take it from there.

4. Act Quickly

The biggest mistake you can make is to delay any kind of action once you discover or are told about a guest. Some landlords who might worry about a confrontation take a wait-and-see approach, hoping the guest will go away on their own. Obviously, this is a less than ideal way to manage your property, and you need to be more assertive in finding out what’s going on. Once you learn the gist of what’s happening with the guest you can make your next move, such as reminding the tenant about the guest rules, asking the guest to fill out an application to be added to the lease, or to start the eviction process against your tenant for breaking the lease agreement.

5. Give Warnings and Eviction Notices When Necessary

As much as you may not want to, you may be faced with an increase in problems from the long-term guest. Some of the more common issues that might arise include abuse of parking, noise, damage, and using community equipment (laundry) and areas (swimming pool or clubhouse) that is expressly reserved for tenants. For each violation, deliver a written warning to the tenant, who is responsible for all guests on the property, short- or long-term. Even if the tenant is “innocent” of the problems, they are still responsible and must get the warnings. Lease violations should trigger your eviction process as well, even if the issues stem from the guest and not the tenant.

Take It Case By Case

There are plenty of scenarios that landlords encounter with tenant guests that are completely innocent and deserve some attention and a compromise. Consider that everyone will have guests at some point, so creating a guest policy that is too restrictive can backfire as your tenant tries to sneak in long-term guests and hides that and other activities from you. Instead, create a reasonable policy to be your starting point and keep the lines of communication open. When your tenant understands the regulations on guests, but knows you are a reasonable landlord, they will be more likely to come to you with each unique situation.

On the other hand, abuse of guest privilege is just like any other lease violation, especially when it comes to subletting and short-term stays that earn money for the tenants. When you have your basic guest policy right there in the lease agreement, it is easier to simply cite that and enforce it until you get the result you want. You must treat long-term guest abuse just as you would any other problem with your tenant, and act quickly to prevent any problems, immediately and down the road. Whether you are fine with an additional roommate and just want them on the lease, or you just want all guests out for good, your long-term guest policy and how you enforce it is the best way to move forward.

The post How Landlords Can Handle Long-Term Guests appeared first on RentPrep.

The Hindenburg & Assembly Bill 1720

The Hindenburg was an airship built in 1936 by the Zeppelin Company. Somebody at the company thought it was a good idea to fill it with highly explosive hydrogen and put 97 people in a cabin strapped to its underside.

In the predictable disaster that followed, 36 people died.

Don Wagner. Orange County Assemblyman Donald Wagner introduced something similar for associations. His Assembly Bill 1720 would allow owners to send their attorneys to board meetings. Like hydrogen-filled airships, nothing good will come from it.

Adversarial. In my experience, no one spends money on a lawyer to tell a board how much they appreciate their hard work. It is always adversarial. If the bill passes, an owner’s attorney can attend meetings and, during open forum, question directors, lecture them, bully them, and threaten them. Or, no less intimidating, the attorney could sit quietly the entire meeting and take notes on everything said–for use in a future (or current) lawsuit.

Ethics Issue. Particularly troubling, the bill destroys the safeguards established by Rule 2-100 of the Rules of Professional Conduct which prohibits an attorney from communicating with a party represented by another attorney without the consent of that lawyer. The State Bar created this consumer protection to help level the playing field and Mr. Wagner wants to strip it away.

Ambushed. Wagner’s bill also states, “Where possible, the member shall give the board at least 48 hours advance written notice that his or her attorney will attend the board meeting.” Note that the sentence starts with “Where possible.” If an owner wants to blindside a board, I suspect he/she will not find it possible to give advance notice. That means boards will get ambushed.

Legal Fees. The obvious outcome of this bill will be impaired meetings since boards and homeowners alike will be reluctant to discuss matters in front of an adversarial lawyer for fear of being sued. To counter the threat, boards will want the association’s attorney to attend meetings whenever they think other lawyers might attend. That means higher dues for everyone.

No Volunteers. It is already difficult to get members to volunteer for the board. Homeowners have busy lives working, raising families, and paying bills. Serving on a board is stressful enough because it takes away what little time they may have. Assembly Bill 1720 makes it worse by creating unnecessary fear of litigation. Who would serve under those conditions?

Hindenberg. Like Zepplin engineers, Assemblyman Wagner is injecting an unstable element into association meetings. Impaired operations and higher costs are sure to follow. This is entirely unnecessary. If an owner’s lawyer wants to present a grievance, he/she can pick up the phone and call me. It’s less expensive and gets better results. They don’t need to sit in a board meeting and glare at the board, or worse–threaten directors.

RECOMMENDATION: Please write Assemblyman Wagner and respectfully ask him to withdraw his bill. Amending the bill is not productive; it would be like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic–another bad idea. The bill should be withdrawn. You can call, fax or write Mr. Wagner at:

Assemblyman Donald P. Wagner
State Capitol, Suite 3098
Sacramento, CA 94249-0068
(916) 319-2068
(916) 319-2168 fax

I’ve already sent him a letter. I urge you to do the same.

FEEDBACK

Board Election. Regarding campaigning against someone running for the board, how do you prevent someone from electing themselves with only their vote when no one else is running? Am I wrong in believing this is standard practice? Can the ballot allow for an “against” option? -Paul C.

RESPONSE: If you have three people running for three seats, each candidates needs only one vote to get elected, their own. Only once in thirty years have I seen a candidate in this scenario not get elected. He didn’t bother to cast a ballot for himself. No one else did either. As a result, only two directors were elected. That left one empty seat, which the board filled through appointment. (The clueless candidate was not appointed.)

As for the “against” option, you can vote against ballot measures such as CC&R amendments and special assessments but not candidates. When it comes to candidates you have three options, (i) vote for the person, (ii) vote for someone else, or (iii) surrender to apathy and not vote.


 
Adrian Adams, Esq.
ADAMS | STIRLING
A Professional Law Corporation

We’re friendly lawyers–boards and managers can reach us at (800) 464-2817 or info@AdamsStirling.com.

What To Do If You Get An Eviction Notice

Whether you are expecting it because you have been unable to pay rent, or it arrives out of the blue, getting an eviction notice is upsetting. You may not know that there are laws and regulations in place in each state in an effort to protect the interests of both landlords and tenants when it comes to the eviction process. Knowing what your rights are and the steps you can take to fix things will help take some of the stress out of the situation.

Know Your State

Each state is going to be a little different when it comes to tenant/landlord practices, so it is important to brush up on the regulations for where you live. If you can’t find the information you need online, it may be worth your time and money to consult a property attorney or experienced realtor.

Read Your Lease Agreement

Many lease agreements state exactly what the course of action is in the case of non-payment, or the terms in which landlords can give a tenant a notice to quit the property. You will have a much easier job fighting the eviction if you are familiar with the contract you signed.

Alternately, there may be aid programs within your state that can help you catch up on or pay rent, as long as you meet certain parameters. Check with your local Department of Human Services to see if such an option exists in your area.

Make A Plan

If you are being evicted because you didn’t pay your rent, it may be worth it to your landlord or his attorney to settle. In most states, the eviction process is long and drawn out and multiple steps must be taken before you are actually required to leave. Your landlord might be willing to let you set up a payment plan or at least negotiate a rate for a month or two before you leave voluntarily.

If you feel you are being illegally evicted, you need to decide if you have a good case, since it is most likely to end up in court. It may be necessary to hire legal representation, but make sure you have done as much of the fact gathering and legwork as possible to keep expenses down. In the meantime, continue to pay your rent, so it doesn’t come up as a ding against your side of the proceedings.

What If It Ends Up In Court?

There are a few good initial pieces of advice to remember if your eviction case does get as far as the court process; show up and do not be late! While the idea of standing up in a court room is intimidating  to most people, once a court date is set, it is non-negotiable without a legitimate emergency. Come prepared with everything you might need to present your case and be clean and presentable. Remember that you are trying to show the judge that you are a reasonable tenant and you don’t want anything to distract the court from the facts.

Deciding what to do if you receive an eviction notice very much depends on what your location is worth to you. If you have been having problems with your landlord, or you are ultimately going to spend more in legal fees than you would if you just found a new place, that is worth taking into account, even if overlooking the emotional component of the situation is difficult. Remember that if you do go to court and lose, you may be required to pay your landlord’s legal fees as well. Whatever you decide to do, remember that knowledge is power in such situations and getting the right kind of help and support is crucial for an outcome you can live with.

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Designing for an Open-Floor Plan

Walls are vanishing from newer homes and the open-plan layouts are showing off multi-purpose areas, such as kitchens and dining rooms and living rooms that seamlessly flow into one another. But how do you decorate one large space – to make it comfortable and beautiful for eating, entertaining, relaxing and more? “The key is continuity,” […]

Fencing Options for Rental Properties

Fences can do a lot of things for a property—provide security, boost curb appeal, or keep pets and children close to home. Landlords who purchase property that is not fenced may want to consider adding one to enhance that amenities list for their rental property, as well as raise property values. However, choosing the right size, style and material from all the different kinds of fencing options isn’t an easy task for landlord without doing a lot of research first.

What Kind of Property Needs Fencing?

Landlords must deal with fencing decisions at some point, whether it’s with a single family rental property or a multi-unit property. Single family properties are often fenced, both for privacy from close suburban neighbors and to keep the occupants safe and secure, especially children and dogs. These types of properties may also be regulated by HOAs as to what type, style or height, or even whether or not a fence can be put in at all.

Multi-unit properties are also often fenced, mostly to mark the entire property, prevent non-residents from entering via non-designated entry points and to eliminate inter-block short cuts. Landlords may even have to consider fencing around community amenities like playgrounds, pools and courtyards. No matter what the situation, landlords will benefit if they do their research onto the reasons they need a fence for their rental property.

Before installing any kind of fence, landlords need to ask themselves why they are installing one in the first place. Is it to provide a safe place for children and pets to play? Is it to add privacy to a yard on a busy street? Is it to increase property value and improve the look of the property? No matter what the motive, putting the reasons into words will help landlords zero in on the right kind of fence for their needs. Let’s take a look at some of the some pros and cons of all the different types of residential fencing.

Wooden Fences

Wood has been a favorite fencing material for generations, and the quintessential “white picket fence” has long symbolized the comfort and security of the American home. Today, wood is still a favorite for many, because it is inexpensive and attractive. Wooden slat fences are perfect for privacy and are a moderately inexpensive fencing option. Picket fence style still provides protection without visually blocking everything out. The most common wood used is redwood, cedar and pine, and are quite rot resistant. Most wood fences are either 4 feet tall or 6 feet tall, and may be subject to municipal regulations for height. Color options are endless, thanks to varieties of stain and paint.

When exposed to the elements without a protective stain, however, the wood can turn gray or brown. That’s why wood fencing requires the most maintenance because of its potential for warping or rotting after too long in the elements. Staining should be done every 3 or 4 years to keep wood from discoloring and getting too weathered. The maintenance required for wood fencing is definitely higher than other fencing options, but the low up-front cost and classic look makes wood fences quite popular.

Chain Link Fences

The chain link fence is pretty typical for suburban homes built in the modern era. Chain link is a cost-effective and durable fencing choice which translates into a lot of benefits for property owners. This type of fencing is very durable and because it is quite flexible, it can withstand all kinds of pressure. However, many people don’t like the look, feeling like it looks too utilitarian or cheap. Overall, chain link fencing doesn’t provide as much privacy as some of the other fencing options but when combined with thoughtful landscaping or privacy slats, it can be a viable option for landlords. It covers just about any type of terrain as well, from flat to sloped properties.

Chain link fencing doesn’t need much maintenance, either, and it is pretty difficult to ruin. It may rust unless it is coated with vinyl, but more modern varieties incorporate anti-rust elements. Because it is able to withstand the elements for the most part and doesn’t require any staining or painting, chain link is a popular choice for landlords wanting a low maintenance, affordable option.

Wrought Iron Fences

On the more expensive end of the metal fence spectrum is wrought iron fencing. Renown for beauty and strength, wrought iron comes in many decorative designs that can be customized for a one-of-a-kind look. The wrought iron fence is definitely the strongest fencing option, and simultaneously provides a classic and elegant look, especially to more historic homes and properties. Wrought iron is a traditional, heavy fence that is perfect for property owners who are concerned with security as well as durability.

This type of metal fence requires minimal maintenance. Wrought iron fences are galvanized for rust resistance as well as treated with a powder coat finish to prevent UV fading. Iron pieces are welded into place and often come with a multi-decade warranty. As the strongest type of fence available, iron definitely ought to be considered.

Aluminum Fences

Mimicking the look of wrought iron without the price or the weight, aluminum fences are a fine alternative for property owners that want the upscale look of iron but don’t have the budget to do so. While aluminum fencing costs more than wood, it is an affordable mid-range option for property owners. Both strong and beautiful, aluminum fencing encloses an area without compromising a property owner’s view. The dark aluminum fencing blends in with the landscaping, rather than standing out in stark contrast like wood or vinyl fencing does. Another benefit of decorative metal fencing is that they can be installed on just about any type of land, no matter what the grade.

Aluminum fencing is virtually maintenance free as well, and the powder coating prevents rust and fading from UV rays. Because aluminum fencing doesn’t need painted or stained, property owners can get it and forget it.

Vinyl Fences

Capturing the ultimate in modern looks, vinyl fencing is sleek, durable and in high demand nowadays. With a range of textures, styles, colors and heights, vinyl fencing is the most diverse of the fencing options. Among the more popular options are the 6-foot privacy style and the 4-foot picket fence style.

There is virtually no care involved with vinyl fencing as it doesn’t need stained or painted, and it won’t rot. This type of fencing material doesn’t blister, warp or rot. Vinyl fencing is more expensive than most other fencing options but the convenience and longevity make it worth it for many property owners.

Brick and Stone Fences

Brick or stone fences set in concrete are not as popular as they once were, thanks to affordable modern options, but they can still provide plenty of advantages to property owners. Strong and long-lasting, brick and stone fences come in a range of colors, textures and styles. The design possibilities are endless, and they can match the look of the house or multi-unit building almost perfectly. Brick and stone fences are very secure, especially when they are constructed at or above 6 feet. Sometimes, brick and stone walls are topped with metal to create an extra secure perimeter. Brick and stone are often combined with metal fencing for both decorative and security benefits.

However, brick and stone fencing is one of the most expensive options on the market, and they don’t do as well on uneven ground. Brick and stone walls are great for privacy, but may not be for the property owner who wants to take advantage of a view or seeks a more open fencing option.

Maintenance for brick or stone fencing is minimal, and usually a crack or chip is the worst that will happen. No painting, staining or repairs are generally needed for brick or stone fencing, and once constructed, these kinds of fences can last a lifetime.

Choosing the Right Fencing

There’s no right answer for landlords as they start the process of choosing a fence material for their rental property. Landlords need to consider all kinds of factors in their fencing decision, such as budget, property terrain, tenant use, what the neighborhood is like, whether municipal or HOA rules apply and what kind of maintenance is needed. They also need to consider their ideal tenants, and what kind of fence will attract the right kind of applicant.

Ultimately, landlords who take the time to research and evaluate all the different options will soon see that one type of fencing is the right choice for their rental property. It’s an investment that will have benefits for many years to come, so landlords are making the right choice in fencing their property, regardless of what they choose.

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