Owner FAQs

Answers to your frequently asked questions

  • Is there a difference between a contractor and a handyman?

    The Contractor’s State License Law presently provides that it is a misdemeanor for any unlicensed person to advertise for construction or work of improvements unless that person states that he or she is unlicensed in the advertisement. This law additionally prohibits an advertisement for construction work or a work improvement by an unlicensed person unless the aggregated contract price for labor, material and all other items is less then $500, and the work or operations are causal, minor, or inconsequential. A handyman is considered an unlicensed worker.
  • What are the timeframes for the return of the security deposit?

    The landlord must send to the tenant a detailed accounting (see question " what information the landlord must provide to the tenant") of the security deposit as well as any security deposit remaining after deductions, or the whole deposit if there are no deductions, within 21 days after the tenant vacates the property.  The deposit may be mailed on the 21st day and it is a good idea, although not legally required for the landlord to mail it by certified mail or at least obtain a proof of mailing from the post office to show compliance.  As of January 1, 2013, after either party gives a notice of termination of tenancy the parties may mutually agree to have both the accounting and required receipts emailed to an email address provided by the tenant and may allow for the security deposit to be sent to an electronic funds transfer to an account designated by the tenant. (Civil Code section 1950.5(g).)
  • What must the notice that the landlord will send to the former tenant, or other person, that the landlord believes may have left personal property on the previously rented premises contain?

    When a tenant has vacated the premises after termination of the tenancy and personal property has been left behind, a landlord must give a written notice (Notice) to the tenant and any other person the landlord reasonably believes may own the property. The Notice should contain the following items:
    • A description of the property which is sufficiently clear to permit the owner of the property to identify it;
    • The place where the property may be claimed;
    • A statement to the owner that reasonable storage costs may be charged before the property is returned; Effective January 1, 2013 the notice must also state that if the tenant claims the property in a time period of not less than two days after the tenant vacated the premises, the tenant may minimize the costs of storage. (Cal. Civ. Code sections 1983(b), 1984).
    • The date before which the claim must be made. The date given cannot be less than 15 days from the date the Notice is personally delivered, or, if mailed, 18 days from the date the Notice is deposited in the mail.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1983(b).)

    In addition to the items listed above, the Notice should also contain a description of what will happen to the property if it is unclaimed. If the property is believed to be worth $300 or more ( effective January 1, 2013, the amount will be $700.00 or more ), the Notice should include these points:

    • If the owner fails to reclaim the property, it will be sold at a public sale after a Notice of Sale has been given by publication;
    • The owner has the right to bid on the property at the sale;
    • Once the property is sold, the costs of storage, advertising, and sale will be deducted from the sale price and any remaining money will be paid over to the county; and
    • The original property owner may claim the money at any time within one year from the date the county receives the money.  (Cal. Civ. Code § 1984.)
    If the property is believed to be worth less than $300 (effective January 1, 2013, the amount will be less than $700.00), the Notice need only state this fact and that the property may be kept, sold, or destroyed without further warning to the owner if it is not claimed within the time period listed in the Notice.
  • When and how may a landlord lawfully evict a tenant?

    A landlord may evict a tenant who refuses to pay rent or otherwise abide by the terms of the rental agreement. It is necessary to obtain a judgment from a court of law before actually evicting the tenant. This form of court proceeding is referred to as an unlawful detainer action. The most common circumstances in which landlords initiate unlawful detainer actions are when tenants:
    • do not pay rent that is due;
    • breach a covenant in the lease; or
    • fail to move after proper termination of the tenancy.
    If a satisfactory solution cannot be reached with the tenant, the landlord should obtain legal advice before giving the required notice and initiating an unlawful detainer action. Since eviction causes tenants to forfeit their rights, landlords are required to comply with certain detailed procedures. (Cal. Code Civ. Proc. § 1161.)