Call (253) 999-2371 Paul Chunyk is a Realtor in Tacoma, WA. See our new homes for sale in Tacoma, Washington, and all of Pierce County. Search the Tacoma Real Estate Market - condos, mansions, luxury homes, and more

Becoming a Landlord

Buying property as an investment can be an easy way to make an extra income. If you live in San Diego, then you are already in a great location to make a real-estate investment purchase. With a young crowd, high traffic, and positive job availability, the demand for rentals is high. However, before deciding to use your property as a rental, it is important to understand the responsibilities that come with being a landlord. You will have to keep the property in good condition, make sure you complete the government requirements, and do what is necessary to keep your renters happy. Some of the specific responsibilities of a landlord include:

Maintaining the rental standard.

Required by law, each rental must be “habitable”. “Habitable” is a general term used to describe a building in a condition that is worthy to be lived in, with no health or safety risks. Each state is going to have their own requirements for both rentals and landlords. In California, this includes ensuring that the rental is:

  1. A structure that is well built: no damaged structure or ineffective walls and roofing.
  2. Available hot water: cold running water is a necessity, but hot water makes it “livable”.
  3. A functioning plumbing system: with a required toilet, bathtub or shower, and sink. The renter needs to have an operating sewage and draining system.
  4. Heat: though San Diego may not reach the lows of other states, the rental must have a mechanism to heat the home.
  5. Lighting: whether it be through windows or skylights, each room in California has to have lighting. This is stricter than the lighting requirements of other states.
  6. Security and safety systems: both the main door and the windows have to have a method of locking. In addition, there needs to be a smoke detector in the rental.
  7. A working electrical system: with the outlets, wires, and lights all functioning.

It is the landlord’s responsibility to ensure that each rental has the required appliances. This is the first step of making a rental “habitable”.

Major repairs.

Once a rental has the required appliances, the landlord is responsible for ensuring that some of these appliances are maintained through taking care of major repairs. Major repairs vary, including anything from a broken pipe, to a rodent problem, to a malfunctioning water heater. A landlord is not responsible for the major repair if the tenant is the cause of the broken appliance or if the tenant neglects to tell the landlord about the problem. For example, if a tenant flooded the home by accidentally leaving a sink on, damaging the flooring, he or she would be responsible. On the other hand, if the heater breaks because it is old, the landlord is responsible for taking care of the problem.

A landlord has to work at keeping the rental “livable”. If desired, the landlord can make an agreement with the tenant. In the agreement, the tenant would pay to have the large appliances and repairs fixed. Typically, the tenant would then have a reduction in their rent. If this method is used, be sure to have a document that indicates what was fixed, how much, and who paid it, with signatures.

If you are not interested in having to maintain the rental, think about hiring a professional to take care of the investment property. A property manager can do the grunt work for you: inspecting the property, making sure the tenants are being responsible, and being available in emergencies. Generally, a property manager costs around 10% of the monthly rent. But, hiring one frees the landlord from the tedious work of having to take care of the rental property and deal with the tenants.

Minor repairs.

Minor damages typically fall under the responsibility of the tenant. They are responsible for keeping the rental clean, using the appliances properly, throwing away their garbage, informing the landlord when there is a major problem, and not damaging the property. If the tenant has a problem that is endangering him or her and was not caused by him or her, that problem should be passed on to the landlord.

A landlord does not have to make a dwelling aesthetically pleasing. If the floors are squeaky, the carpet is stained, or the kitchen counter cracks, the landlord is not required to fix the problem. If the tenant causes the property to be unaesthetic, depending on the agreement between the landlord and the tenant, the tenant may be forced to pay for the damage at the end of their contract.

The gray areas.

In a renting situation, dishwashers, stoves, washing machines, dryers, and refrigerators are a gray area. A landlord is not required to provide these appliances. But if a landlord chooses to provide them, the appliances should be written in the contract. If they break and need to be fixed or replaced, the tenant should have a clear understanding that the landlord is not responsible for paying to have them fixed.

Talk to a realtor.

When looking for which property to invest in, a real estate agent is going to be helpful in choosing the right property.

  • They will have more information on properties that are less expensive: short sales, auctions, estate sales, ect.
  • They will know what type of home you should purchase: a fixer upper or an almost ready to rent home. Though you may want a less expensive home, doing so may cost you more time and money than you anticipated. If you are not a do it yourself type, you may end up needing to pour in more money than necessary just to make the rental attractive to others.
  • They will know the best locations for the rental and what features the home should have to attract tenants. You want prospective tenants to consistently be asking about your property. Any extra effort you put into attracting good tenants is going to help you in the future. A good tenant who lives a stable life with a steady income is worth extra effort. They are going to take care of your property. Go through the work of having a credit and criminal background check of each tenant. Asking for a couple references from past landlords is also a good idea.

Though becoming a landlord can take a fair amount of energy and money, it is worth the effort when done correctly. With benefits like receiving a steady income and tax advantages, investment properties reap rewards.

Contact Paul Chunyk

Reach out to me, I would love to give you more details and get you headed in the right direction to accomplish your goals.

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