01 Jul Street Parking, Security Deposit, Tenant Repairs and Drains
Q: Street parking spaces are few and far between near my building. My apartment complex has just enough parking spaces for my residents to each have one space. If a resident has more than one car, they must try to park it on the street. It has been working out fine for years but now I have this one tenant who refuses to follow the rules. He is constantly parking his second car in someone else’s assigned spot. I’ve told him several times but he just ignores me. What do I do?
A: Your community rules and regulations should specify your parking rules, specifically stating that only one vehicle may be parked on the premises, and that all parking is assigned. Ensure that you have the proper signage at the entrances to the parking area. Most cities require the sign to contain certain restrictive parking language, plus the local police department telephone number, and the California Vehicle Code section that provides for towing of unauthorized vehicles.
Contact your local police department for their specific requirements, as they vary from city to city. Next if you know the offender, then provide a written warning of the violation. Attempt to serve it at his residence, post it on his door if he’s not in, and also put the warning on the windshield of his car. If practical, take and save a photograph of the warning on the vehicle windshield, because the offender will always claim that you did not give prior notice before towing. If he fails to remove the offending vehicle, the car may be towed.
Q: I rented an apartment to four roommates quite a while ago. One of the four is now moving out, but the other three want to stay. The one moving out is demanding that I return his portion of the security deposit, he says that he paid it so he should get it back. Do I have to?
A: No, the security deposit remains with you as long as any of the roommates remain in possession of the rental unit. Often, owners and residents will enter into an agreement replacing one resident with another, thereby removing the one original resident from the lease. The agreement will further provide that the “new” roommate pay the “old” roommate his portion of the security deposit. Absent a written agreement to the contrary, the owner should retain the entire security deposit, then when all the remaining roommates vacate, the refund check should be made payable to all four of the original roommates named in the rental agreement.
Q: What types of repairs can I require the tenant to take responsibility for?
A: A landlord and tenant can agree, in writing by the rental agreement, to allocate responsibility for minor repairs between them. Often landlords and tenants may agree that certain items, amenities, will be the tenant’s responsibility to maintain. These may include refrigerators, washing machines, pools or spas, air conditioning, and minor plumbing issues.
Q: Seems like I’m replacing screens and clearing drains on a regular basis for one of my residents. At the end of the day, I’m not sure if I have more money going out for repairs than I have coming in as rent! How do I control the repeat repairs and expenses?
A: It’s very important to create a baseline with your tenants. Upon move in, ensure that you use the move in inspection checklist provided by your apartment association. Itemize any and all defects or items that are in need of repair, and note any non-habitability items that have pre-existing damage that you are not required to and do not intend to repair. Ensure that all habitability items are promptly corrected and that you document that fact by entering it into your maintenance log, and have your resident sign off that the work was completed satisfactorily. Your rental agreement will identify who is responsible for what repairs and maintenance items. Make sure your review these responsibilities with your tenants so that they are aware of what is expected of them. Often landlords shift the burden of small plumbing stoppages to the tenant, while retaining responsibility for main line blockages. Your rental agreement should state that the apartment is equipped with the requisite screens, and that the resident has inspected them and agrees to maintain them during the tenancy.
This article is presented in a general nature to address typical landlord tenant legal issues. Specific inquiries regarding a particular situation should be addressed to your attorney. Stephen C. Duringer is the founder of The Duringer Law Group, PLC, one of the largest and most experienced landlord tenant law firms in the country. The firm has successfully handled over 285,000 landlord tenant matters throughout California and has collected over $200,000,000 in debt since 1988. The firm may be reached at 714-279-1100 or 800-829-6994. Please visit www.DuringerLaw.com for more information.