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Neil Fjellestad's Blog


By Neil Fjellestad | Property Manager in San Diego County, CA

FBS Property Management eNewsletter for San Marcos, CA: It's Summertime & the Living is Easier with Rent Sense

It's Summertime & the Living is Easier with Rent Sense

I have asked Ted Kimball to share some of his legal insights on important issues that arise in the ongoing operation of rental properties (single homes, individual condos and apartments). These responses should not be construed as legal advice until your specific circumstances are considered. FBS Property Management firm has effectively utilized the legal counsel of KTS for decades to keep ourselves and our rental owner clients out of trouble. We operate rental properties in 69 zip codes throughout the region.

1. Question: What are my legal rights regarding maintaining a full deposit on a unit when one roommate moves out and another stays? My understanding is that I am entitled to maintain the full deposit while at least one of the original tenants remains in residency, and it is that remaining person’s responsibility to refund the deposit.

Answer:Unless your lease provides otherwise, you do not have to account for the use of the deposit or do an inspection until you regain possession of the unit. The roommate who vacated is not
entitled to a refund or inspection at this time unless your lease specifically requires it.

2. Question: One of our tenants wants her security deposit refund in cash as the other
roommate on the lease has moved out of state with no forwarding address. If the missing
roommate’s name is on the refund check, the remaining tenant is concerned that she cannot
cash the check.

Answer: You can either make the check out to both tenants or have one tenant send you a notarized statement that he/she is relinquishing all rights to the deposit to the other tenant. Otherwise, you face potential liability to the one who did not receive the deposit.

3. Question: Does the acceptance of rent from someone who is not on the lease mean I’ve
accepted him as a tenant?

Answer: Accepting a third party check does not by itself necessarily indicate that you have accepted this person as a tenant. It is a good idea to indicate that this is being received on behalf of the tenant and does not indicate any tenancy relationship between you and the check writer.

4. Question: I am having a bit of a problem with a repeat visitor on my property. He is a young man who knows a lot of the children who live here. It has been brought to my attention that he has been selling marijuana on our property, but I have not personally seen this. Can I keep him off of the property based on this information?

Answer:If he is not visiting one of your tenants, he is trespassing. If he is visiting one of your residents, they are responsible for his conduct. In any case you should call the police.

5. Question: I have a resident who moved in this last month. I have had a lot of noise
complaints about him from other residents. I have also issued three warning notices for noise and the cleaning of this patio. He has a one-year lease. What can I do?

Answer: If the disturbances rise to the level of a public or private nuisance (major, continuous
disturbances to neighbors), then you could serve a Three-Day Notice to Quit based upon the

6. Question: I have tenants who recently divorced. The husband has moved out. Can we take
him off the rental agreement?

Answer: It is not in your best interest to take him off the lease as he is still responsible for the lease
payments even though he moved out. To remove him, you would need to get his permission
and consent.

7. Question: Is there a smoke detector ordinance that requires an owner to perform an annual smoke detector inspection in each unit? If so, what is the purpose of the smoke detector

Answer: California state law does not require an annual inspection of a smoke detector inside a rented unit; however, the owner is responsible to maintain and test smoke detectors in common
stairwells or other common property of the apartment community. Tenants are required to notify
the owner of an inoperable smoke detector in their unit.

8. Question: One of our employees said she believes that a tenant’s rental agreement must be signed in the owner’s or agent’s presence, or notarized, or it will be invalid.

Answer: California rental agreements do not have to be notarized or signed in front of the owner or
owner’s agent.

9. Question: Can I ban alcohol in the pool area?

Answer: You can control the common areas of the premises so you could ban the use of alcohol in the pool area.

10. Question: Do I give a sixty-day notice on a month-to-month tenancy for a rent increase of

Answer: No, a thirty-day notice is all that is required unless the increase is more than 10% of what the rent was one year ago.

This article is for general information purposes only. Laws may have changed since this article was
published. Before acting, be sure to receive legal advice from our office. Ted Kimball is a partner with Kimball, Tirey & St. John LLP. The law firm specializes in landlord/tenant, collections, fair housing and business and real estate, with offices throughout California.

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