Blog | All County Bay Area Property Management


Security Deposit Laws in California

In California, a security deposit for an unfurnished, residential rental unit cannot exceed 2 times the monthly rent. (Note that if a unit is furnished, the deposit can be increased to 3 times the rent). All deposit money must be refundable. California law does not allow a landlord to charge a non-refundable deposit. Even if the landlord calls it a nonrefundable “key deposit” or a “cleaning deposit” and includes the provision in the lease, it is still refundable. Because non-refundable deposits are illegal in California, such clauses are not valid and will not be upheld by a Court.

How Can Disputes Over Security Deposits Be Avoided?

Keep copies of all rental records in one place. Showing that a tenant has the right to a return of security deposit requires preparation in advance. Start during a walk-thru just before you actually move in, even if the tenant was required to sign a lease or rental agreement that recited that the unit was in perfect condition. Make a list of the conditions in each room/area and have you and your landlord sign it. If the landlord won’t sign it, make sure you date it and give the landlord a copy.

What Exactly is Renter’s Insurance?

When you choose to rent an apartment or house, your personal items are not covered if there happens to be a break-in or a fire or some other unfortunate disaster that can cause destruction to your personal belongings, unless you have renter’s insurance.

Renter’s Insurance can cover items ruined during the following natural occurrences, as well as theft.

Plumbing System Freezing

Abandoned Property in a Rental – Landlord Responsibilities

When a tenant moves out of a rental they are expected to leave the rental in the same condition as when they moved in. This includes cleaning the rental as well as removing any and all property out of the unit. There are times when a tenant, for one reason or another, will leave their property behind when moving out of a rental unit, creating a situation in which the landlord must take responsibility for the abandoned property by following a few state laws that address this particular situation.

Landlords, Pet Policies and Service Animals

Service animals are animals that are trained to specifically assist people with a disability in order to improve the quality of their life. Even though California state law permits landlords to implement a ‘No Pets Policy’, service animal are not considered to be a pet and are thus exempt from any Pet Policy rules that a landlord has implemented when a possible tenant is interested in renting one of their rental units.

Can You Afford to Hire a Property Manager?

Before you hire a property manager, you need to assess your finances. Property managers are not free. Managers will charge a fee, on average, between 4% and 10% of the monthly gross income for the property. The typical fee for a single family rental property is closer to 10%. The fee for a property of 10 units or more is typically between 4% and 7%.


How do I know what is happening with my rental property?

Regular communication is a given. This is really about technology—the backbone of successful property management. Expect regular email updates and a 24/7 online owner portal to view rents, maintenance and all other property activities from wherever you are.

How long, on average, does it take you to fill a vacancy?


3. Does the broker of record work directly with this office?

While experience is critical, so is the quality of that experience. You may want to look closely to see if the broker is representing many offices.

4. Whom do I contact with questions and how quickly will you respond?

While every property manager may make similar promises, ask how they plan to keep their commitments. What processes, staff and resources do they have in place? How quickly can you expect a return call or email when you have a question?


1. Is your company dedicated exclusively to property management?

This complex industry demands specific training and expertise, so avoid a jack-of-all-trades office that attempts to juggle real estate sales, property management and other ventures.

2. How long have you been managing residential rentals?

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