How much security deposit can I charge for my rental in Marin County? 

  • Can I choose whether to allow tenants with children? Tenants with pets? Or, Tenants who smoke?

    Tenants with children falls under familial status and familial status is a protected class. Foundation Homes complies fully with the Fair Housing Act. This means that you cannot choose to disallow anyone that is a member of a protected class under the act. It is illegal to discriminate against: race, color, national origin, religion, sex, handicap, familial status (including children under the age of 18 living with parents or legal custodians; pregnant women and people securing custody of children under 18).

    Pets, however, are not a protected class; therefore, you may choose to disallow pets in your units, with the exception of legal Assistive Animals.

    Smokers are also not a protected class. We encourage all Owners to consider having their investment be a non-smoking property.

  • Does Foundation Homes provide a monthly accounting of my income and expenses for each property?

    We do! We will provide you with monthly reports of all income received and expenses disbursed, as well as a tenant summary that shows all monetary activity with each tenant and unit.

  • How do you screen for quality tenants for my property?

    Placing the most qualified tenants in your property is our primary goal with each vacancy.

    We are professionally trained to process all applications with a careful eye for detail. We obtain credit and eviction reports on each applicant, contact current and previous landlords for rental references, and verify current employment and income through a two-point process.

  • What constitutes "Capital Improvement" versus Repairs?

A good rule of thumb is that if you are adding a new item, or upgrading an existing item, then it’s usually considered a capital improvement. Here's the IRS link that discusses depreciation: Please consult your tax professional for all tax-related advice.  

  • Are there Smoke Detector rules I need to be aware of?

 Absolutely. New laws went into effect as of January 1, 2016. If we are managing your property we can handle your compliance. If you are self-managing, you are responsible for all compliance issues such as Smoke Detectors. In brief summary the SB 1394 law states:

1. Effective January 1, 2016

2. Leased or rented dwellings must meet current building standards

3. Smoke alarms must be installed in every bedroom and outside of sleeping areas

4. Smoke alarms if not hardwired must have a 10 year non-replaceable and non-removable battery that is listed acceptable by the Office of the State Fire Marshall. 10 year replaceable batteries are not permitted.

5. If a permit of at least $1000 or more is pulled before January 1, 2016 the property/dwelling must meet current code before the inspection can be approved.

------> Current Building code also requires that “NO” smoke alarm may be in service after 10 years. You can find the date of manufacturer on the back or inside the units. If no date is listed the unit is likely to be extremely old. Another indicator to show that you may need to replace the unit is if the unit has turned yellow or brownish in color.

Q: Why does Foundation Homes strongly discourage a landlord from purchasing a Home Warranty plan?

Home Warranties offered by companies like American Home Shield and other national plans are generally unreliable with timeliness and communication. Many of the vendors used in those setups are considered subpar quality, and are most often from out of the area. Property owners who pay the annual premium are generally trying to avoid being on the hook for expensive HVAC repairs on systems that are at end-of-life, but, when a service call is necessary, the vendor does the bare minimum to get the system "working" again. Meanwhile, the tenant gets frustrated because in the heat of summer, for example, the HVAC can go down 3 or 4 times, and they're at the mercy of this home warranty vendors who don't work weekends or after-hours. 

Additionally, home warranties have exclusions for preventive maintenance and often landlords mistakenly think they shouldn't pay for needed preventative to be performed because "I have a home warranty". However, this negatively affects the property in the long run. Also, there's a basic quality control issue. We can't think of a better way to jeopardize the reputation of our company in the eyes of our clients and tenants than allowing a third party vendor that we have no relationship with to address the maintenance issue at hand in an often untimely (and possibly unprofessional) manner.

For more information, our Marin Property Management Blog is a great resource.