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Welcome to our Blog!
On this page you will find a lot of helpful information.
Frequently asked questions by investors, landlords, tenants etc.
Just click on the topic that you would like to read. 

 















 
Why Use Property Management?

 

A good property management company can prove to be an asset to the continued success of your business.  Many investors will say that the value added of a great property management company is like finding a pot of gold.  We're a little biased but we have seen the proof over and over in our business because by freeing the owners from the day to day operations of the property, they have more time to explore other opportunities and think more strategically of how they want to manage all their investments.  The result is a much better ROI, even with our fees.

Let's look at some specifics as to what a good property management company can do for you:

Higher Quality Tenants

Screening potential renters is a process that many investors simply don't have the time to go through.  Rather than getting a bad tenant out of your home, the better scenario is to never let them rent in the first place.  A thorough screening process results in reliable renters and can:

  1. put less wear and tear on the unit
  2. have better and easier on time rent collection
  3. will generally attract tenants who will rent for longer periods of time
  4. eliminate renters who are likely to cause problems over the term of their lease.

We do this by spending the time necessary to determine all the information potentially available for a client and analyzing that information for proven warning signs.  A good property management company, not only finds reliable renters but also protects the owner from potential scams.

Shorter Vacancy Cycles

A property management firm should be able to decrease your vacancy cycles by:

  1. Maintaining or improving property for rent
  2. Knowing the market
  3. Effective marketing for tenants

We know what potential renters are looking for because we do this everyday.  We suggest improvements that can increase the value of the property to the renter and maximize the rent which we can charge.

By knowing the market, we are knowledgeable in what like properties are renting for.  Rather than decrease profitability, we often find that individual investors or home owners are actually charging LESS for the property than they could get.

We write hundreds of ads and know what copy sells.  Our experience in attracting tenants is based on how successful each of these ads has been.  Practice does make perfect.

Fewer Legal Problems

We spend a significant amount of time keeping on top of changes in legislation that can affect the legalities of a landlord-tenant relationship.  Legal problems are expensive and time consuming and sometimes emotionally draining.  Making sure these problems don't happen to our clients is what we do best.

Tighter Rent Collections

The process you use for rent collection and late payments is often the best indicator for success or failure as a landlord.  If tenants don't have consequences for late or missed payments, they will pay late or not at all!  Property managers have the process for handling these situations and also act as a buffer between the tenant and the owner.  It's a classic good guy/bad guy routine but it works and takes a lot of the headaches out of rent collection for the property owners.


















 
6 Property Maintenance Tips that can save landlord money
How to Prevent Problems by Performing Regular Property Maintenance


As a landlord, it is easy to overlook minor issues. Performing
regular maintenance on your property can help you catch a small problem before it turns into a large expense. Here are some property maintenance tips that can help save you money in the long run.


1.Exterminate monthly

Even if you do not currently have a rodent or insect problem, you should exterminate monthly or bi-monthly to prevent such problems from occurring. Do not limit the extermination to one apartment, as critters will simply travel to another part of the property. While it is possible to purchase exterminating supplies yourself, this task is usually best left to a professional.

Monthly exterminations will cost you money, but this preventative property maintenance is a much cheaper option than the cost of losing current and prospective tenants due to a pest problem. Shop around for the best price.

As an example, you can see that spending $25 a unit for a monthly extermination is a much better option than losing $1000 in rent because of a tenant vacancy. A complete infestation will also cost much more money because current tenants may have to temporarily leave the building and walls and ceilings will have to be opened up.

2.Check for water damage and leaks.

The best time to check for leaks is after a heavy rain storm, after ice and snow have begun to melt, or on very hot and humid days when pipes tend to sweat. Check for soft spots on the roofs, ceilings, and walls. Look for signs of water around windows, showers, and toilets. Check under sinks, boilers, and water heaters. It is imperative to identify a water leak early. Ongoing leaks can completely damage walls, ceilings, and a tenant’s possessions. Dangerous mold can also form, which can be a large expense, especially if it is over 10 square feet, which would have to be remedied according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Guidelines.

3. Examine shower caulking and grout between tiles.

Over time, the grout between tiles can crack and the caulk surrounding the tub can loosen. When this happens, you no longer have a waterproof seal and water can leak through and damage the surrounding walls or floor below. As soon as you notice any cracks or holes, you should replace the caulking or grout to prevent potential water damage.

4. Test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors regularly.

Check these devices monthly to make sure they are in working order. Both battery operated and hard wired devices should be tested. Set a schedule to test them when you collect rent or at another time that is convenient for you. These devices save lives. If there is a fire or carbon monoxide leak in your building and these devices are not in working order, you could face legal action. Also, be aware that the average lifespan of a carbon monoxide detector is 5 years, so replace as necessary. Smoke alarms have a useful life of about 10 years.

5. Change the filters in your forced air system.

You should change the filters in your heating or air conditioning unit at least twice a year. Consult the manufacturer of your heating or cooling system to determine the highest efficiency filter for your system. Dirty filters can increase your utility bill by causing the system to work harder or can lead to malfunctions in the systems, such as causing the cooling system to freeze-up.

Routinely changing the filter can help prevent the air duct from becoming contaminated. If clogged, the ducts will usually need to be professionally cleaned, and that is an expense you do not want. Even if your tenants pay their own utilities, pay proper attention to this matter because excessively high utility bills will cause you to lose tenants.

6. Flash your water heater.

Once or twice a year you should drain your water heaters. This is done to remove the sediment that can build up in your unit from the municipal water supply that enters your property. If too much sediment builds up, it can reduce the efficiency of your water heater or clog the drain valve. Replacing a water heater is expensive! Be cautious and follow the specific procedures for draining your water heater. If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, hire someone who is.

By sacrificing a little time and money now to perform property maintenance, you can save yourself a lot of time and money in the future. Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.


















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California Fair Housing Law

California law has expanded the coverage of fair housing protection in the state by creating codes that include additional protected classes. California uses the terms disabled and disability as opposed to the federal terms of handicap and handicapped. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the Unruh Act are the primary fair housing laws of California. One of the most significant differences between the Federal Fair Housing Act and the State of California Fair Housing Laws is that California’s FEHA added the protection of the following classes from discrimination:

  • Ancestry
  • Marital status
  • Sexual orientation
  • Source of income
  • Age 
  • Arbitrary (Unruh)

Prohibited Housing Practices

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination and harassment in all aspects of housing including:

  • Sales and rentals
  • Evictions
  • Terms and conditions
  • Mortgage loans
  • Insurance
  • Land use and zoning
  • Housing providers are required to make reasonable accommodation in rules and practices to permit individuals with disabilities to use and enjoy a dwelling and make reasonable modifications to the premises
  • Retaliation against any individual who has filed a complaint with the State, participated in a Department investigation or opposed any activity illegal under the Act is prohibited

Unruh Civil Rights Act

This law provides protection against discrimination by businesses, housing and public accommodations in California based on:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Disability
  • National Origin
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Source of Income

Ralph Civil Rights Act

The Ralph Civil Rights Act, California Civil Code Sec. 51.7, provides protection from hate crimes. It prohibits violence or threats of violence based on:

  • Age
  • Ancestry
  • Color
  • Disability
  • National Origin
  • Political Affiliation
  • Position in a Labor Dispute
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation
  • Source of Income

Definition of Disability

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination in all aspects of housing (rental, lease, terms and conditions, etc.) for persons with disabilities. Disability is defined as:

  • A physical or mental impairment that limits the individual in performing one or more major life activity
  • A record of having, or being perceived as having, a physical or mental impairment. It does not include current illegal use of, or addiction to, a controlled substance (as defined by Sec. 102 of the Federal Controlled Substance Act, 21 U.S.C. Sec.802)

Accessibility Guidelines

All new housing construction consisting of four or more dwelling units must be designed and constructed in a manner that allows access to, and use by, disabled persons.

The basic requirements must include the following features:

  • All covered multi-family dwellings shall have at least one building entrance on an accessible route, unless it is impractical to do so because of the terrain or unusual characteristics of the site. The burden of proof, because of terrain or unusual site characteristics , is on the person or persons who designed the facility
  • All covered multi-family dwellings with at least one building entrance on an accessible route shall be designed and constructed in a manner that complies with all of the following:
    • The public and common areas shall be readily accessible to and usable by handicapped individuals
    • All the doors shall be designed to allow passage into and within the premises and shall be sufficiently wide to allow passage by handicapped individuals in wheelchairs
    • All covered premises shall contain the following adaptable design features:
      • An accessible route into and through the covered dwelling unit
      • Light switches, electrical outlets, thermostats, and other environmental controls at accessible locations
      • Reinforcements in bathroom walls to allow later installation of grab bars around the toilet, tub, shower stall and shower seat, where such facilities are not provided
      • Usable kitchens and bathrooms such that individuals in a wheelchair can maneuver comfortably within that space

Use of Service Animals

Individuals with disabilities have the right to use the services of a guide, signal or trained dog (or other such designated animal), and have such animals in or around their unit. No charges or security deposits may be imposed for having a guide, signal or trained animal. Tenants, however, are liable for any damage caused by their animals if there is proof of such damage.

Reasonable Accommodation

At the request of an individual with a disability, a housing provider must make reasonable accommodations in rules, policies, practices or services to provide the individual equal opportunity to use and enjoy the dwelling.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Making an exemption to a “no pet” policy to enable a disabled tenant to have a service animal
  • Changing parking rules to enable a disabled tenant to have parking that meets his/her needs

A housing provider may ask a tenant for medical verification of the need for reasonable accommodation. This is limited to verification that the person is disabled within the meaning of the law and that there is a need for the requested accommodation. However, the housing provider is not entitled to any information about the nature of the disability.

Reasonable Accommodation

A housing provider must allow disabled individuals to reasonably modify existing premises if the modifications are necessary for the enjoyment of the amenities provided within the premises.

The tenant is responsible for the cost of the modification. In some circumstances, a landlord may require that the tenant agree to restore the interior of the premises to the original condition. Examples of reasonable modifications include:

  • Widening doorways
  • Lowering cabinets
  • Installing a wheelchair ramp

Familial Discrimination

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits discrimination in all aspects of housing (rental, lease, terms and conditions, etc.) because of the presence of children in the household (familial status).

Familial status is defined as having one or more individuals under 18 years of age residing with a parent or another individual having legal custody of that individual (including foster parents) or with a designee of the parent or legal custodian. Familial status also includes pregnant women and individuals in the process of adopting or otherwise securing legal custody of any minor under 18 years of age.

Senior Housing exemption

Housing that meets the legal definition of senior housing are exempt from the provisions of familial status under the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

The three categories of housing that meet this definition are:

  • Housing provided under any state or federal program that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determines is specifically designed and operated to assist elderly persons, as defined in the state or federal program
  • Housing that meets the standards for senior housing in Sections 51.2, 51.3 and 51.4 of the Civil Code (Unruh Civil Rights Act)
  • Mobile home parks that meet the standards for “housing for older persons” as defined in the Federal Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 and related regulations.


















 

How to prepare your home to rent.

-Ensure that the electrical system, plumbing and heating system, roof are in good working condition. As a landlord, you are required to provide your tenants with the basic essentials (such as electricity, fresh water, and heat) while they are renting from you...

-Decide which appliances you will leave in the house before renting it out. While you’re not required to provide your tenants with a refrigerator or washer and dryer, you are required to maintain any appliances you leave on the property for tenant use.

-Make any repairs before you show the house to potential tenants. You’ll be able rent your house out for more money if you present it in its best light.  Overgrown landscaping, peeling or dirty paint, worn flooring will not appeal to most tenants. You may have difficulty receiving constant rental income from your house if it doesn’t meet the rentable standards. Applying a fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive upgrade that goes a very long way.


-Install working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide monitors which is state law.



















 

 

 
Tenant Eviction Process.


Serve these in the same way as you served the 3-day Notice to Pay Rent or Quit form. The tenant will have 5 days to file a response with you and the court. Post and mail the tenant has 10 days to respond, after the 10 days start counting the 5 days, if no response file for judgment.

Complete the court process.
  • If the tenant does not answer within 5 days after being served, file a default judgment and Writ of Possession with the court. If a default judgment is issued, you will be given a Writ of Possession. Take this form to the local Sheriff and have him or her evict the tenant.
  •  If the tenant decides to challenge the eviction, you or the tenant may request a trial in front of a judge or jury. The trial will occur within 21 days of the request.
  •  If you win the case, you will be awarded possession of the property and possibly monetary awards. The court will order the Sheriff to post a notice giving the tenant 5 days to vacate the rental unit. If the tenant does not leave, the Sheriff will forcibly remove him or her.
  • If the tenant wins the case, he or she will be permitted to remain in the rental unit. You may have to pay his or her court fees and he or she may be ordered to pay any past-due rent.

















  

 Top mistakes made by landlords and property managers.

 -Failing to properly screen applicant’s.

Proper screening involves having standards that are strict and reasonable.  If you are not strict enough, you may end up with problems later.  If you are too strict, that may result in rent loss due to extended vacancies.  A landlord/property manager should always verify identity, check rental references, check credit, verify income.

 

 -Failing to have a written agreement that meets California state law requirements, not covering enough information, or not including enough landlord/tenant protection.  Not having a detailed agreement that meets California state law requirements can result in legal disputes.

 -Not properly preparing you rental.

A property should be in good, clean, and fully-functional condition before the property is shown and before the tenant moves in.  Ensure that electric, plumbing, heating, roof, appliances are in good working order.  Make any necessary repairs, make sure yard has been landscaped, apply a fresh coat of paint to any dirty or peeling paint, repair worn flooring, fix broken windows, and make sure the house is clean.  Making all necessary repairs before showing the house will help to attract better quality tenants and will increase your chances that the tenant will pay on time, leave your property in good condition, and live in the rental longer.  All of which will help to maximize your rental income.

 - Respond quickly to repair request.

When a tenant calls to request maintenance, respond quickly.  Delaying repairs will not make the repair go away.  Responding quickly shows the tenant that their comfort & safety is important.  In return you will increase your chances that your tenant will show you the same respect.

 - Not acting quickly when a tenant is behind on rent.  A 3 day notice should be served as soon as the grace period ends.  Even if a payment agreement is reached with the tenant, a landlord should be ready to proceed with an eviction is the agreement is breached.  The eviction process is technical so hiring an attorney or relying on the advice of an attorney is important.

 - Not inspecting the property regularly.  It is Important to inspect a property at least once every year to ensure tenant safety and reduce liability.  It is important to make sure smoke alarm & carbon monoxide monitors are working properly and other safety measurements are in place.  This is also a good opportunity to make sure that there are no lease violations or differed maintenance.

 - Handle deposit refunds according to California law.

California law require that you return a deposit or an itemized list of deductions along with receipts within 21 days.  Make sure that deductions are reasonable and deductions are based on actual cost.










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