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law booksRegulations and laws relating to property ownership and tenant relations can weave a complicated web that can trap landlords.
Knowing the applicable laws and how to use them advantageously is essential for property owners.
Fast Forward Property Management, a team of seasoned Bay Area property management specialists with over forty years of experience, outlines the four most common mistakes they see landlords make when dealing with legal issues:
1. Not staying current on rental lawsRental laws are perpetually changing. Legislation is constantly being updated and new laws written. In complex areas such as evictions, not following proper legal procedures can cause months of delays. Not knowing the law inside and out can expose landlords to excessive liability.

2. Not Appealing Property TaxesThe appraisal process is subjective and includes factors such as the income a property produces, comparable sales in the local area, and the cost to replace the structures. These variables change frequently, and the tax bill can be negotiated with county tax assessors or the board of appeals that resolves differences between owners and assessors. Genaro Mendoza of Fast Forward Property Management explains, We regularly see 10% to 40% reductions, especially if the market has declined since the time of purchase.

3. Poor recordkeeping It is important to keep good records for tax and legal purposes. Keep a file of lease documents, background screenings, insurance, financial statements, service requests, walk-through inspections, and receipts for repairs and improvements.
4. Automatically going to courtGoing to court to settle disputes should be a last resort. Legal fees are very expensive, and most judges tend to favor the tenants. The best solution is to use mediation or arbitration to negotiate and settle without going to court. Often it is cheaper to either forgive some debt or refund more of a security deposit than it is to go to court and pay legal fees.
For more information about dealing with legal issues, property management, and other services provided by Fast Forward Property Management, visit them on the web at, call them at 707-266-8100 or 888-737-8116, or visit their office located at 620 E. Washington Street, Petaluma, CA 94952.
With AAOA, landlords have resources at their fingertips. Check out our Landlord Forms page.American Apartment Owners Association offers discounts on products and services for landlords related to your rental housing investment, including rental forms, tenant debt collection, tenant background checks, insurance and financing. Find out more at

  • Bill

    I think a far more pervasive “legal mistake” is the failure to write a lease that is understandable to the tenants, and then failing to ensure that the tenant actually understands his obligations and those of the Landlord. Surely, if the tenant does not understand his responsibilities, he is less likely to be compelled to follow those requirements. Small print, complicated legal wording and so forth just means that the tenant will not comply, and will damage the property, cost the landlord money and if serious enough will result in protracted legal proceedings, benefiting nobody but the lawyers.

  • Amy Haught

    I agree that going to court should be a last resort, however, if you have kept good records and provided a clear and concise lease from the start, you shouldn’t fear the legal system for helping you with negligent tenants. Those tenants who have failed to pay the rent and/or leave the property neglected and damaged should be held accountable through the legal system. Best advice given to me prior to becoming and investor/landlord, make sure you have tenants who have a steady income/job. This helps with any judgements you may bring against them–This has worked for me in collecting damages/rent due, it’s called garnishing wages.

    Also, appealing property taxes is important and now is the time. If you don’t like the results appeal it to a higher court, but be prepared to provide comparable updated sales data specific to the area in which you are appealing.

  • Carol

    My husband and I are going to court later today re non-payment of rent…a case that has been going on for 2-3 years. The court ordered the tenant to pay, and payments have been spotty. So, we’re headed back to court. Tenant lives out of the area now but was served by the sheriff to appear before the court. We are also seeking interest because of the length of time we have had to wait for the rent. Wish us luck!
    We are persistent in this action because we have the time, which we understand many people would not be able to do. We are retired and are taking the time to pursue this tenant.

  • Ron in Colorado

    Best of luck on your court proceedings today.
    Here my 2 cents on how ‘get it in writing’ ain’t worth the paper is printed on when you go to court. I once took a ex-tenant to court for back rent, damage and late fees. The judge here in Arapahoe County Court awarded me the back rent, the damages but would not give me the last fees. The judge said I didn’t prove that the when the tenant didn’t pay the rent on time, that the tenant placed me in a financial hardship. THE LATE FEES WERE SPELLED OUT IN THE LEASE THAT THE TENANT SIGNED!!!
    Now if I pay an of my taxes late, does the govt have to prove that I placed the govt in a financial hardship? Different set of rules for ‘We the people’ and then a different set of rules for the people who run the govt.

  • gary

    It’s good that Amy is able to garnishee tenant’s wages. I’m all for her. I only wish I lived in the same State where she owns property. The State I’m in doesn’t allow for landlords to garnishee wages.

  • Jim

    I have 6 rental properties and I am loctaed in Ft. Worth. TX. I read the problems landlords in other states have with their tenants and I am grateful that Texas is very landlord friendly. That is not to say that the courts do not rule in favor of tenants.

    It takes me approximately 21 days from the time I mail the 3 day letter to the date a writ of possission is issued. If eviction is because of non-payment of rent, there are o nly 2 issues to be decided by the court; 1) was the notice letter sufficient and 2) does the tenant owe the rent. Nothing else matters, not the physical or mental condition of the tennant.

  • Sandi

    I received a Judgment against Tenants for not payment of rent, etc. This took place in So. California. The problem is I am not living in California now to collect on this Judgment which is fairly substantial. It was a few years ago, and no longer know the whereabouts of these Tenants, although I am sure they are still in the same area.

    Can anyone out there help me find someone, a good and honest private detective or agency who/that can help me locate and possibly collecy on this Judgment?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


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