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Legal Q & A By – Franco Simone, Esq.

Posted on 01. Aug, 2019 by in all

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Q: I hired a property management company to take over managing my properties. What do I need to do to let my tenants know that I will not be managing my properties anymore? 

A: You are required to serve your tenants with a notice of change of ownership/management every time ownership or management changes. This notice must include the name, telephone number, and street address for personal service of each of the following: 1) authorized manager, 2) agent for service of process of the owner, and 3) the person or entity to make rent checks payable to.

The notice must also include the forms in which payments are made, such as by check, money order, cashier’s check, and/or cash. If rent payments are made personally, then the notice must also include the business hours when a tenant may make a payment. Alternatively, the lease or rental agreement may provide information to the tenant to make electronic payment or payment to a bank as long as the bank is located within five miles of the rental unit. 

Q: I just purchased an apartment building. Can I wait to serve a notice of change of ownership/management until I hire a property management company? 

A: It depends. You are required to serve your tenants with a notice of change of ownership/management within 15 days of a purchase or change in management. If you fail to provide proper notice to your tenants, then you cannot serve a notice or file an eviction for non-payment of rent that accrued during the period of non-compliance. This also applies to any period of time that the prior owner was not in compliance.

Q: I own an apartment building and want to hire a property management company to manage my units. Does the new property manager need to have a certificate or license to manage properties? 

A: It depends. Some property managers are not required to have a certificate or license. For example, an owner of a rental property may manage their rental property without any certificate or license.  Further, an on-site property manager does not need a certificate or license to review rental applications, show/lease the property, and collect money for the deposit, rent, and utilities. However, an off-site property manager must be employed and supervised by a licensed California Real Estate Broker to provide these services. 

Q: I have a property management company manage my property. A tenant has sued the property management company and the management company wants to get me involved. Do I have any responsibility as the owner? 

A: Yes, as the owner of the property you may be held responsible for the actions of your property management company in a lawsuit by the tenants. You should review your contract with the property management company and consult with an attorney before taking any action.  Further, you should review your property insurance policy to make sure that it covers your property managers.  

Q: I hired a property management company to manage my properties. Am I required to sign a written agreement with the company? 

A: No, however, most property management companies that work under a licensed California Real Estate Broker will require a written agreement. An agreement is beneficial because it defines specific expectations for both parties. If you are concerned with provisions in a proposed agreement, then you should consult an attorney before signing the agreement.

Q:  My tenant stopped paying rent but I don’t want to be involved in the eviction process. Can my property management company file evictions on my behalf? 

A: Yes, a property manager may file evictions on behalf of the owner. However, you must have a written property management agreement that includes a provision granting the property manager a right to possession and give the property manager the authority to file the action. 

Attorney Franco Simone, of Simone & Associates and The Landlords’ Legal Center, has been doing evictions for over 20 years.  He is also an adjunct law professor at the University of San Diego.  Mr. Simone’s office is open Monday – Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM.  Tel: 619-235-6180, website: www.landlordslegalcenter.com or email info@simonelawfirm.com.

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