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Archive for January, 2014

Real Estate Investors: 13 Items Your Insurance Won’t Cover

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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By Al Aiello, CPA, MS Taxation

“My lawyer told me umbrella insurance is enough to protect me, so I don’t need an LLC.”  ~ An ill-advised Real Estate Investor

With lawyers like the above, who needs [...]

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10 Landlords Found Discriminating by Testers – By L. Paul Smith

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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In the first half of 2013, ten discrimination complaints were filed with the anti-discrimination division by the Disability Law Center (DLC) as a result of fair housing testers.

In each case, the DLC tested the landlords twice and each time found them to be discriminating.  Of the ten cases, two have been settled so far.  Settlements included landlords agreeing to take fair housing training and making contributions to the DLC to offset the costs of testing.

Paired Testing

When the DLC tests, they generally use paired testers.  This means they send (or have call on the phone) two renters, one who is a protected class, and they measure if the two prospective renters are treated the same.

One tester is not in a protected class (the “control” tester).  The other is the “protected class” tester.  The tests are done on the same day, to the same leasing person or landlord.  If any red flags are discovered, the DLC orders a second test.  If both tests suggest the landlord uses discriminatory practices, a complaint is filed with the state.  Findings of discrimination can result in fines of $10,000 for first time offenders.  The most effective way to avoid red flags from paired testing is to be sure to treat every prospect the same.

What are Red Flags?

A landlord recently called after receiving a letter from the state notifying her it was the beginning of an investigation based on this testing.  In her case, she had twice been asked (a few weeks apart), if she allowed service animals.  Both times she said yes, BUT, both times she told them she charged an extra $500 deposit to have the service animal.  That is an illegal practice.

Of 129 tests conducted in the first half of 2013, 44 (34%) found “red flags” suggesting discrimination or discriminatory practice.  Some of the red flags included:

  • Apartment manager asked about the nature of a person’s disability – (a clear no-no)
  • Tester was told there would be $50 additional rent added each month for a service animal
  • A protected class tester was told no unit was available while a control tester was told there was one ready now.
  • A protected class tester was referred to another complex while a control tester was shown a unit at that complex.
  • The control tester was offered move-in special while the protected class tester was not.

The best way to avoid having discrimination complaints filed against you is to understand fair housing law and treat everyone equally.

Reprinted with permission of The Landlord Times.

 

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Stealing Rent – Not a Crime? – By Sophia C., Landlord

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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Stealing a car is a felony that is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.
Second degree robbery is a felony that is punishable by a minimum of two years in state prison and probation for [...]

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Introducing…the New AOA Guest Card – By Cristine Tablante

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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If you have a vacancy or an upcoming vacancy, your main goal is to get it rented as quickly as possible.  The best way to rent your available unit is to make sure you [...]

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Southern California Landlords…How to Avoid Trouble and Save Money! Follow These Laws and Ideas for 2014! – by Patricia A. Harris

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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It is our continuous goal to aid and support you in making this business of providing housing for others more profitable, easier and yes, more enjoyable.  AOA wishes each and every one of you [...]

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Five New Year’s Strategies to Maximize Your Building’s Income – By Saint Newton

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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After a long dry spell, we have entered a market cycle where rents are increasing.  As a building owner, you need to have your rents keep pace with the market with the same diligence you look after your [...]

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2014 A Great Year to Be a Landlord? – By Robert Cain

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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2014 could be a terrific time to be a landlord. Changes in the tax code could mean more business for us.

As there have been for some time, there are rumblings about doing away with [...]

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Forecasts & Trends Obama Calls for a Minimum Wage Hike to $10.10 – By Gary Halbert

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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[This proposed minimum wage increase would cost apartment owners big!  If you have a manager or if you use a handyman to do repairs – prices will be going up!]

President Obama is calling for a huge hike in the minimum wage to [...]

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Proposal to Allow Tenants to Bypass Court and Have Rent Board Decide Their Harassment Complaints – By Gideon Kramer, SPOSFI News Editor

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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In 2008, the Board of Supervisors passed Proposition M. While anti-harassment laws

already existed, tenant activists pressured their allies on the Board to sponsor Prop. M – the Anti-Harassment Ordinance. Prop. M specifically called out more than a dozen actions treated as harassment by a rental property owner, including failure to make repairs, entering without due notice, refusing to accept cash or a rent check after 30 days, and asking tenants for their legal status or Social Security number.

With the law’s passage, even offering a tenant a buyout could now be construed as harassment. Prop M. was among the most stringent laws of its kind in the nation, and was vigorously opposed by SPOSFI and other organizations.

Even though a significant portion of the law was eventually overturned by the court, it was law for a number of years, and had a chilling effect on property owners. Prop. M was another example of the overreaching legislation passed by the Board of Supervisors, creating fear in property owners.

Legislation Makes it Easy to Sue Your Landlord

WithSan Franciscoexperiencing another bump in rents and more owners resorting to the Ellis Act since the Board recently passed legislation placing a 10-year moratorium on condo conversions, tenant activists are again raising the red flag. Maria Zamudio, a housing rights organizer for Just Cause Clinic claims that “about 80% of tenants who visit the clinic seek legal assistance specifically for harassment by landlords or situations where harassment is a factor.” She further states: “San Franciscohas protections for tenants against harassment, but for many tenants those rights are currently inaccessible. If

they want to hold their landlord accountable, they need to file a lawsuit in Superior Court. Immigrants – the majority of tenants we work with – don’t have those resources.”

To answer the call, Mr. Campos is proposing to allow tenants to bypass Superior Court entirely and instead bring their harassment complaints before a Rent Board Administrative Law Judge. Adding a new avenue for attacking property owners at no cost to the tenant seems likely to produce a burden, if not a flood, of complaints for the Rent Board to handle.

Debra Colton, speaking for the California Apartment Association (CAA), summed it up best: “The Rent Board acting in the place of a court is unheard of!” The legislation has to pass the Land Use and Economic Development Committee before it goes to the full board. Needless to say, we’ll be watching the legislation closely.

Reprinted with permission of the Small Property Owners of San Francisco Institute (SPOSFI) News.  For more information on becoming a member of SPOSFI or to send a tax-deductible donation, please visit their website at www.smallprop.org or call (415) 647-2419.

 

 

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Something to Think About #16 – The Rashomon Effect – By Klarise Yahya, Commercial Loan Broker – BRE: 00957107 MLO: 249261

Posted on 01. Jan, 2014 by .

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One of the concepts behind How I Met Your Mother (now in its final season) revolves around the characters having unique memories of the same event, with one recollection often being very different from [...]

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