I have a tenant in LA who has been there only about 7 years (although it looks like they've lived there for 20). I do what I can. I keep the rent $400 below market, too. The house is 60 years old. On top of that, the tenants don't take care of the place- the place is a total mess.
The house "shifts" with the ground and therefore, the paint peels, floors move and crack slightly, doors stick and other things that cannot be controlled. Because of the way they live, the entire house would need to be redone upon their move-out...but, unfortunately, they aren't planning on moving out. They are always wanting me to upgrade or fix everything while they are living there. For example: 1)they want me to dig out all the flooring in the kitchen and replace it. 2) They want me to dig out the old tub (because it is starting to chip) and replace it. 3) They want me to dig out the flooring and tile in the bathroom and replace it. 4) They want me to repaint the interior. On top of THAT, they want me to put them up in a hotel while I fix all of these things. As you can see, these are major projects that would take at least 3-4 weeks.
1) What should I do? What would a PRO do in my situation?
2) Also, I am under the impression that as a landlord, I am not responsible for the normal critters (ants) that live on the property. Correct?
3) They've never complained til now, but am I required to install a deadbolt on every entrance to the house?
Thank you in advance!
Non-renew their lease when it comes up.
Then do all the repairs.
Then put it back on the market at full price for a new tenant.
The house shifting that much sounds concerning to me. Is that a normal thing in SoCal due to earthquakes?
It is not due to earthquakes..it is due to the constant contraction and expansion of the soil underneath many cities. It is very normal, but a nuisance. With this, it causes stucco to fall off your house or sidewalks to crack..etc.
@Mark David A couple suggestions that I think will be helpful:
1) Read the California Landlord-Tenant Handbook and
2) understand Landlord Obligations for Habitable Premises (Note: This link answers the deadbolt requirements you asked about.)
You need to know these basic things so you can understand what's required of you, and what's not, so that you know how to answer your tenants when they make requests such as these. (For requests that are of a cosmetic nature and are not required, you'll just have to learn to say "no".)
Lastly, I see you're in Los Angeles so I don't know if your tenants fall under rent control or not, but since you said you "keep the rent $400 below market" it sounds like that's a choice more than a requirement so I'm guessing you're not in a rent controlled area. If that's the case, I have no idea why you would choose to keep the rent that low for tenants no landlord should want to keep by the way you described them, but that's your call. In my opinion, you should consider just getting rid of them, or possibly raising their rent to market rate (or even above) and seeing if they'll either pay it or move on their own.
Is the property an SFR or built after 1/1/1978? If either of those are a yes, then I would consider jacking up the rent as an incentive to get these folks out. The Los Angeles RSO only applies to condos, townhomes, apartments or any building with multiple units.
But while you are doing this, I think it is important to gain expertise on exactly what you need to repair and what you don't need to repair. i.e., follow the landlording laws to the letter in the off chance they decide to sue you after you inform them that you'll be increasing their rent by 400+ dollars.
You bring up a lot of detailed issues and I think I've got them addressed accurately, but I sincerely apologize if I get anything wrong. Anyone, please feel free to correct me.
If the property is a single family residence, then you are not under rent control in Los Angeles. I'll assume that your lease is expired and the tenants have been month-to-month for some time. On one hand, you may give a 60-day notice to vacate. On the other hand, you may also give notice (30 days if 10% or under, 60 days if more than 10%) for a rent increase.
As far as the issues with contraction and expansion you state, if you have not, try diagnosing that you don't have foundation issues that can later cause more problems.
Flooring - what kind of kitchen flooring and How old is it and what condition is it in? Is it wear and tear (dirty grout in tile) or in disrepair (broken, chipped tiles)? How old is the flooring in the bath and is it wear and tear or disrepair? Normally, if it is wear and tear, the Landlord is responsible and if it has been abused, then it is the tenant's problem.
Bath tub - chips in a porcelain tub do not make a rental uninhabitable, but how bad is it?
Paint - again, wear and tear vs disrepair, but useful life of paint in California is generally 3 years give or take.
Re #2: Does your lease state you are responsible for pest control? If not, are we talking about a few ants when it gets hot outside or is it anything near an infestation? If not caused by the tenant, which may be difficult to prove, it may be your responsibility. That said, ants are relatively easier to take care of than other pests.
Re #3: I think you are not required to install a deadbolt on every entry door, only the main entry door. But what are the reasons for the request? Are there security concerns? Your tenants are just renting, but you are the property owner.
In regards to putting them up in a hotel while repairs are done, you may if you want to but are not required to do so (SFRs are not Rent Stabilized Ordinance properties in Los Angeles).
I realize I may have not directly addressed a lot of your questions. In my opinion, I suggest you look at the details of this property in terms of what you want in the short term and long term. For example, even though you may not be required to make significant repairs, if you communicate with your tenant and get to a mutually beneficial situation, you may avoid the possibility of having your tenant leave and then possibly having to do significant repairs. Otherwise, you may determine that it is in your best interest to terminate tenancy, rehab, and maximize rent. Let us know how things progress and good luck!
Learn your state landlord tenant codes and if possible get rid of your tenants. Once tenants begin to become demanding it is time for them to go.
Having rent below market is a very poor business practice. You are supplementing your tennats rent out of pocket. Not logical. Get your rent up to market or sell. Business is not about losing money it is about maxamising profits.
I’m not in California and I’m probably not a pro either ... but I sure wouldn’t be giving into those ridiculous demands or allowing rent to be 400$ under market . You need to change this arrangement pronto
There's nothing unusual about expansive soils but it is not normal for them to constantly shift and constantly cause problems. My steps:
1. Get an engineer in the property ASAP and figure out how to solidify the house so it no longer moves.
2. Find a contractor and the funds to fix the problem.
3. Terminate the lease at the earliest convenience. You're renting to poor quality tenants that will continue to take advantage of your naivete.
4. Once they are out, fix the home from the foundation up.
5. While the repairs are being done, look for a professional property manager that can handle this property for you. They will rent it at market rate, get good tenants, and put more money in your pocket.
You probably need help finding a quality PM so start by going to www.narpm.org and searching their list of managers. Read online to learn what a GOOD PM looks like and learn how to screen them.