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What are Landlord obligations?

What are Landlord obligations - Security, Water, Heat

Here is a list of Landlord obligations:

  • Maintenance and repairs of the rental property
  • Providing a Heat Source (but not cooling source, at least not in CA)
  • Complying with “Implied warranty of habitability” and all that this entails
  • Responding to maintenance requests
  • Providing Security of property
  • Ensuring the availability of hot and cold water at required times
  • Providing the utility services to the tenants
  • Complying with the applicable housing codes and safety codes
 

Are landlords obligated to increase rent payment yearly?

Landlords are not obligated to increase the rent payment yearly. However, due to increase in maintenance costs, labor costs and property taxes every year, prices of materials like paints, bonds, sanitary items etc., it is legal for a property owner to increase the monthly rent yearly. There are various tenant protection laws which prevent landlords from raising rents too much. There are laws at both the statewide, countywide, and in many cases, citywide levels as well.

How many days are landlords obligated to give proper notice prior to filing eviction?

Due to legality of the eviction process, it depends upon the rules and regulations applicable, and the reason for the eviction. Sometimes, the notice period can be as little as 15 days, and as high as 60 days, depending on the reasons for the eviction and the city/county in which the property is located .

Are landlords responsible for rental property maintenance?

Yes, landlords are responsible for maintenance of rental property, and to keep all things which are at the property, in proper working order. NOTE, this does NOT mean that landlords are obligated to add anything which was not there in the first place. For example, if a place has no air conditioning, and a tenant asks for one during the hot summer, the landlord is not obligated to provide this because it was not there in the first place. But, if there is an AC on the property and it breaks, then landlord is obligated to fix it.

Furnace Filters

Furnace filters need to be changed regularly for good air quality. Air conditioning systems and furnaces use the same filter. Being an integral part of furnace, furnace filters need to be changed at least after 90 days.

Septic/Sewer/Plumbing

Septic tanks are often installed underground for collection of sewage waste. Landlords must ensure the septic tank maintenance and treatment of sewage pipes blockage, if the house in on septic. And in homes on regular sewer systems, as most in LA are, Landlord is responsible to make sure these systems work properly.

Hot water

In winters, availability of hot water needs to be ensured. For that, proper geyser system needs to be installed in the rental property. 

Habitable conditions

Providing habitable conditions to tenants must be ensured by the property owners. It is important to give an eye on clean streets, garbage maintenance, proper ventilation, waste management, plumbing etc.  

Safety Code

Rental property owners are responsible to comply to the applicable safety codes. They must ensure the emergency exits in case of fire, fire extinguishers, pest control, smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors, fire alarms etc.  

What landlords do not have to do.

Landlords are not required to do routine upkeep of a place. For example, landlord is not required to replace light bulbs. Landlord is also not required to fix damage that is caused by tenants, and if landlord does so, may bill the tenant for it.

What duties do landlords have regarding security deposits?

In CA, Landlords are responsible to make sure that security deposits are handed back within certain legal timeframes.

In CA, landlords may not “offset” upaid rents or other charge and charge it against the security deposit. SAecurity deposit may ONLY be used for damages done by tenant to the property, unless the parties agree otherwise.

In CA, landlord do NOT have to keep security deposits in special separate or interest bearing accounts. (In other states, landlords are required to do this)l

Should landlords provide a rental agreement?

Rental agreement is valid for a short span of time, often, a year, then, renewed on a month to month basis. Landlords should provide a rental agreement to:

Avoid disputes

Verbal agreements lead to chaos. Rental agreement in written form allows both tenant and landlord to agree upon the terms. It helps them in maintaining healthy landlord-tenant relationship.  

Outline tenant duties and obligations and landlord obligations.

The agreement outlines who gets what and who pays for what. For example, a landlord might sometimes pay for water/trash service, or, might put that on tenant. Landlord might pay for gardening, or may put that on tenant. There may be shared spaces, storage spaces, or other areas where tenants are allowed use, but with restrictions. (Example, leases often prohibit tenants from using open driveways as storage areas, as it makes the property look bad) Essentially, the lease should outline all duties and obligations of all parties to the property. A qualified real estate agent or attorney should assist landlord in drafting these.

 

 

Are landlords obligated to provide lease agreements?

Landlords are not obligated to provide lease agreements. However, it is very rare for a landlord not to have one, since chaos is sure to ensue otherwise. The exceptions to this rule mostly occur when people rent to family and friends (which also often results in chaos.)

 

What obligations do landlords have for providing utilities?

Nobody has any obligations to pay anything, it is strictly a matter of the lease agreement. Some landlords pay some utilities, others put it all on tenants. The times when a landlord MUST pay utilities are situations where multiple units have no separate meters for utilities – for example, a duplex might have ONE water meter only. Then, landlord needs to pay, because if either tenant pays, then they are paying the other tenants utility bills.

What requirements govern a landlord’s entry into rental units?

Landlords cannot just enter into the rental units. However, landlords can enter the rental property after giving an adequate notice, usually, 24 hours before entering the rental unit. Robert Rafii, Esq., the author of ‘Requirements for Landlord Entry’, has mentioned the basic requirements which govern the entrance of landlord in the rental unit

  • Emergency

  • Maintenance and repairs of the rental property

  • Regular inspection of the property

  • Showing the rental property to other potential tenants and prospective tenants

  • Showing the rental property to property management companies 

Most leases provide that tenants who do not allow landlords legal entry, are subject to eviction.

How must landlords handle tenant complaints?

Landlords are responsible to respond to tenant complaints. Tenants have a right to complain about the rental property, which can be maintenance and repair request, neighbors issue, housing code violation etc. 

Not all complaints are valid, but a conscientious landlord should respond to all complaints, as failure to do so can cause legal skirmishes/lawsuits. 

Landlords do not have a legal duty to respond to tenant complaints, but, if the complaint is valid and the landlord fails to respond, landlord can pay the legal consequences of that.

What information must landlords disclose to tenants?

Landlords are obligated to disclose specific information to the tenants. According to article ‘What Information Can A Landlord Disclose’, published by The Law Offices of James L. Arrasmith, following information must be disclosed to the tenant.

Property details

Landlord is obligated to provide the rental property details in lease agreement. It includes property address, property owner details, rent payment address etc.

Lead-based paint

If the property is built before 1978, then landlord is obligated to inform the tenants about the presence of lead-based paints.

Mold-Disclosure

Landlords must inform the tenants if there is a mold problem in the rental property.

Hazards

Information about environmental hazards such as mold, radon, pests etc. must be disclosed by the landlords. 

Rent Control

Rent control regulations and rules must be disclosed by landlords. 

How should landlords return security deposits?

Landlords will visit the rental unit for the inspection after tenants move out.. If there is no significant damage done to the rental property, landlords return the security deposits or if there is some damage, the landlord may deduct some money. There are timeframes that landlords have to comply with in order to do this. If landlord is taking security deposit money, landlord must provide tenant with details and documentation as to why the landlord is taking the money, including but not limited to evidence of costs of any repairs. A smart landlord will take pictures of everything.

What obligations do landlords have for providing habitable premises?

Landlords are obligated to provide habitable premises to the tenants. Landlords are responsible for

  • Providing pest free environment (pests need to be dealt with);
  • Providing adequate weatherproofing, roof with no leaks, etc.
  • Providing running water, and electricity and gas outlets that work
  • Providing heat (AC is not generally required though);
  • Dealing with any and all known safety hazards on the premises, whatever those might be

Can a tenant refuse to pay rent if repairs are needed?

It depends upon the local municipality laws or state laws. Generally, this clause is incorporated in lease agreement to avoid confusions and disputes. Refusal to pay rent based on poor maintenance is not recommended as it may lead to eviction.

What are landlords not allowed to do in Los Angeles?

According to Zoe Harper, in her article ‘Things Landlords Cannot Do In California’, in light of federal Fair Housing Act of 1968 and California’s own Fair Employment and Housing Act, the landlords are prohibited from engaging in discrimination based on:

  • Race, Ethnicity, Color;
  • Gender/Gender Identification
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Religion
  • Family Status
  • Disability
  • Age

Landlords who discriminate against tenants based upon the above risk getting in serious legal hot water based upon multiple fair housing laws.

What duties do landlords have regarding tenant privacy?

It is necessary for a landlord to investigate about the tenant before lease agreement. Landlords can ask for whatever they want from tenants; some can be invasive, others not so much. Regardless of what info the landlord asks for however, the landlord is responsible for securing the tenant’s personal data and seeing that such data does not get leaked/disseminated.

What are the requirements for landlords terminating tenancies?

Landlords can, under some circumstances, terminate the tenancy. How this looks varies greatly based upon local laws, and a competent attorney should always be consulted before trying to terminate a tenancy!  Typical things which result in termination of tenancy are:

  • Damage / destruction to the rental property
  • Nonpayment of rent
  • MATERIAL Lease agreement breach [This is legally tricky; every little lease violation is not grounds for eviction; only MATERIAL violations- and this is something that a lawyer should be consulted on]
  • Illegal usage of / criminal activity on rental property, by tenant [Tenant manufacturing / selling drugs; tenant running illegal business out of residential home]

The above items almost always, in any city and in any State, will result in a tenant eviction. There are other grounds for evicting tenants also, but there are much more restrictions on those, such as: Owner wants to move into the property; owner wants to install a property manager into the tenants unit; owner wants to renovate the unit; owner wants to move a family member into the unit; owner simply wants tenant out because they don’t like the tenant, and want a new tenant.

An attorney familiar in the local rental and tenant laws, should always be consulted, before attempting to end a tenancy.

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