Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Changes to City of San Jose Garbage Billing

Beginning July 1, 2015 the City of San Jose will no longer send a bi-monthly garbage bill. The fees for garbage collection will instead be added to property owner's bi-annual property tax bill. Most SJ garbage customers utilizing a standard 32 gallon trash container will be billed $370 annually or $185 split over the two property tax installments.

For more details on the change, please see the city's FAQ here:

Garbage Billing Changes - City of San Jose

Santa Clara County Water Restrictions

With the California drought reaching an emergency status, we must all do our part to conserve water.

Due to recent regulations requiring a 30% reduction in water use, all tenants are requested to reduce their landscape watering to be in line with water district restrictions. These restrictions are as follows:

1. Limits on Watering Times: Watering or irrigating of outside plants, lawn, landscape, and turf areas with potable water using a landscape irrigation system or a watering device that is not continuously attended is limited to no more than 15 minutes of watering per station per day, with no watering between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. This provision does not apply to landscape irrigation zones that exclusively use drip-type irrigation systems. This provision also does not apply to low precipitation sprinkler systems that apply water at or less than 1.0 inch per hour. This provision also does not apply to watering or irrigating by use of a hand-held bucket or similar container, a hand-held hose equipped with a positive action shut-off nozzle or device that causes it to cease dispensing water immediately when not in use, or for the express purpose of adjusting or repairing an irrigation system. However no irrigation can occur regardless of method that results in runoff.

2. Limits on Watering Days: Watering or irrigating of lawns, landscape or other vegetated areas with potable water is limited to two days per week. Irrigation will be allowed on Monday and Thursday for odd numbered and numberless addresses and will be allowed on Tuesday and Friday for even numbered addresses.

3. The use of potable water for watering outside plants, lawn, landscape, and turf areas during and up to 48 hours after measurable rainfall.

4. The use of potable water for washing of vehicles, except at a commercial car washing facility that utilizes a recirculating water system to capture or reuse water. No use of potable water for washing aircraft, cars, buses, boats, trailers, or other commercial vehicles at any time, except at commercial or fleet vehicle or boat washing facilities operated at a fixed location where equipment using water is recirculated to avoid wasteful use.

5. Operation of commercial car washes that do not recycle the potable water used as required by the California Water Code Sections 10950-10953 is considered wasteful use of water.

6. The service of water, other than upon request, in eating and drinking establishments, including but not limited to restaurants, hotels, cafes, bars, or other public places where food or drink are served and/or purchased.

7. Operators of hotels and motels are to provide guests with the option of choosing not to have towels and linens laundered daily and/or to require hotels and motels to prominently display a notice of this option in each guest bathroom using clear and easily understood language.

8. The use of potable water for washing buildings, structures, sidewalks, walkways, driveways, patios, tennis courts, or other hard-surfaced, non-porous areas in a manner that results in runoff or a waste of water is considered wasteful use of water.

9. The use of potable water for watering streets with trucks or other vehicles, except for initial wash-down for construction purposes (if street sweeping is not feasible), or to protect the health and safety of the public or if recycled water is reasonably available as determined by a government agency, is considered wasteful use of water.

10. The use of potable water for construction purposes, including washing streets, backfill, and dust control, if other actions to accomplish the same purposes without water are feasible and/or permitted or if recycled water is reasonably available as determined by a government agency is considered wasteful use of water.

11. The failure to repair any leak, break, or other malfunction in a customer’s domestic or outdoor water system within 72 hours of notification by the utility, unless other, specific arrangements are made with and agreed to by the utility is considered wasteful use of water.

12. The use of potable water to refill residential swimming pools or outdoor spas more than one foot or initial filling with potable water except when existing pools are drained to repair leaks.

13. The use of potable water for filling or refilling decorative fountains, ornamental lakes or ponds except to the extent needed to sustain aquatic life, provided that such animals are of significant value and have been actively managed within the water feature prior to declaration of a supply shortage level under Rule No. 14.1.

14. Other restrictions on use of potable water as prescribed from time to time by the SWRCB, the CPUC, SJWC, or other governing body or agency.

15. None of the restrictions apply to the use of recycled water. These restrictions also shall not apply (except for Stage 4) to commercial nurseries, golf courses, or other water-dependent businesses, unless specifically included by the SWRCB, the CPUC, SJWC, or other governing body or agency.

To view the latest info on the San Jose Water Company filing, please visit this link:

Friday, November 1, 2013

Serving a Notice To Vacate a Rental Home

Laws vary from state to state, but in California, Landlords must give 30 days' notice to vacate if the tenancy is for 1 year or less, or 60 days for a tenancy exceeding 1 year. Notice must be served properly, in one of the following 3 ways:

  1. By delivering a copy of the notice to the tenant personally.
  2. By leaving a copy of the notice with a member of the household of suitable age and discretion and mailing a copy to the residence.
  3. By posting a copy of the notice at an obvious point of entry (typically the front door) and mailing a copy to the residence.

Failure to properly notice your tenant may result in a 'defective notice' requiring you to re-serve the notice, or worse, the tenant is unaware of the notice which leads to more headaches and problems for both Landlord and Tenant.

At Cornerstone Property Management we make an effort to talk to the resident prior to serving the notice. This can soften the blow of the unfortunate news to the renter, answer any questions they may have, and reduce the confusion of the entire process.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Handling an Unauthorized Pet

It happens. It is frustrating, irritating, and even maddening. You place a tenant in the property and the rental agreement documents "no pets/animals." You counsel the tenants that this is a binding agreement. Then a vendor goes out to a property to repair something and reports back there is a man eating dog! Or there is a drive-by the property and a cat is spotted sitting in the window. A neighbor reports a dog that is continually barking. Generally, if a tenant moves in an unauthorized animal, the information comes out in some form or another. Now what is to be done?
The first step is to find out exactly what situation is occuring in the property. It could turn out that they are "temporarily" keeping an animal for friend or family. It's possible a stray wandered onto the property and they simply adopted it. They may have decided they wanted a dog or kitty for their children and just think they only have to pay more in a deposit. And, of course, it may be they deliberately planned to move in a pet from the beginning even though they they knew the property owner would not accept one. Knowing the mindset of the tenant is a big key in figuring out what to do.
The next step may be one of the following.
  • A letter documenting the situation is sent notifying the tenant they have violated their rental agreement and they have to resolve the situation with their property management company and owner; they are required to contact us to meet to review the animal.
  • By telephone, we request a walk-through to see the condition of the property, see the animal in question, and discuss the violation of their agreement.
It is important to find out exactly what type of pet they have moved into the property. It could be something simple such as a gerbil or hamster. It could also be a snake, a parrot, a cat, a small dog, a large dog, etc. Whether it is small or large, any animal can cause damage and it could even be one that is illegal to keep in the residence, such as barnyard animals in residential housing. The zoning of the property determines what animals are allowed in the property as well as the preferences of the property owner.
It could be that it is a temporary problem, a pet that is suitable, or a situation where the unauthorized pet is simply unacceptable. This dictates what steps need to be taken and every situation is different. Here are some scenarios.
  • The situation IS temporary and after receiving a notice from their property manager, the tenant removes the pet. A followup walk-through confirms this.
  • The tenant, after notification from their property manager, removes the animal because they do not want to incur poor rental history or pay an increase to their deposit.
  • The tenant has chosen a reasonable pet, they are being responsible for its care, it has not affected the condition of the property, and it is acceptable to the property owner. In addition, they are willing to sign documentation with increased security deposit.
  • The pet is not an acceptable situation for whatever reason and a notice is sent to the tenant to remove the pet immediately.
We find that the majority of tenants will respond and work to resolve the issue of an unauthorized pet. There are situations where it can require an eviction. In that case, we normally find that it is in the best interests of the property to take the steps to remove this tenancy and a destructive pet.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Refinancing Your Income Property

With historically low interest rates we have seen a large influx in clients refinancing their mortgages. If it's been a while since you've refinanced, or maybe even if you have recently, you can probably benefit from refinancing your existing mortgage.

Speak to your loan officer or mortgage expert to see if a refi is right for you.

If you think the time is right to refinance and you need an appraisal, please have the appraiser call us directly. We will arrange with the tenant and meet with the appraiser and make sure everything goes smoothly.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Internet / Email Outage

Dear Clients and Tenants:

Due to superstorm Sandy affecting servers on the east coast, we are experiencing some service issues on email servers and our website. We will respond to any emails that we receive but please understand that delivery of some emails may fail or reach us later than normal.

Thank you for your patience. For any urgent matters please call our main line at (408) 377-3000.


The Cornerstone Property Management Team

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Rental Housing Laws for 2013

California Apartment Association has released information regarding new bills signed in by Governor Jerry Brown. Below are summations of the bills and CAA's position on each bill. Please feel free to leave a comment and tell us what you think!

Rental Housing Bills to Become Law in 2013

The California Legislature has closed its 2011-2012 session and sent hundreds of bills to the Governor’s Desk. On September 30, 2012, the Governor finished his review of all bills. Here is a look at those rental housing bills that he signed and will become law beginning January 2013.

Security Deposits - AB 1679 (Bonilla, D-Concord) – CAA Position – Support - This is CAA’s sponsored legislation that allows property owners to deposit any remaining portion of a tenant’s security deposit directly to a bank account designated by the tenant and allows property owners to provide a copy of the itemized security deposit statement along with supporting documents to an e-mail account provided by the tenant. Current law only allows the return of the money and the supporting documents by first class mail.

Tenant Relocation San Francisco: Rent Control AB 1925 (Ma and Yee, D-San Francisco) – CAA Position - Support. This bill, sponsored by the California Apartment Association, provides that in San Francisco, a landlord cannot be forced to pay more than $275 per day plus actual moving expenses (if it is necessary for the landlord to move the possessions of the tenant household) for temporary relocation. The landlord will have the option to provide a comparable dwelling unit and pay any actual moving expenses, in lieu of the daily rate. The tenant shall remain responsible for the payment of rent.

Animals at Rental Property – SB 1229 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) – CAA Position – Support - This bill prohibits a landlord who allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises, from advertising or establishing rental policies that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized as a condition of occupancy.

Rental Payments Electronic Funds – SB 1055 (Lieu, D-Torrance) – CAA Position - Support. SB 1055 prohibits a landlord from requiring electronic funds transfer (EFT) as the only form of rental payment or security deposit.

Animals at Rental Property – SB 1229 (Pavley, D-Agoura Hills) – CAA Position – Support - This bill prohibits a landlord who allows a tenant to have an animal on the premises, from advertising or establishing rental policies that requires a tenant or a potential tenant with an animal to have that animal declawed or devocalized as a condition of occupancy.

Tenant Notice – Owners in Default - SB 1191 (Simitian, D-Palo Alto) – CAA Position – Support - This bill requires a property owner (1 to 4 units) who has received a Notice of Default on the payment of the mortgage from the mortgagee, trustee, or other person authorized to take the home to foreclosure sale to inform any new prospective tenant that a Notice of Default has been filed against the property.

Tenant Disclosure – New Owner - AB 1953 (Ammiano, D-San Francisco) – CAA Position: Neutral - AB 1953 would prohibit a property owner from proceeding with an eviction during the time a new owner is out of compliance with the notice provisions required under the law. Those notice provisions require a new property owner to provide the tenant with the owner’s name and the location where rent is to be paid. The tenant, however, is not relieved from the liability to pay rent for an owner’s failure to provide this notice timely.

Tenant Abandoned Personal Property - AB 2521 (Blumenfield, D-Van Nuys) – CAA Position: Support - This bill increases from $300 to $700 the value of a departing tenant’s abandoned personal property, a threshold that requires an owner to take added steps before disposing of the personal property (storage or public sale). If the value of the property is less than $700, the landlord may dispose of the property in any manner or retain it for his/her own use.

Building Accessibility for the Disabled - SB 1186 (Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Dutton (R-Inland Empire)) – CAA Position: Support - This bill prohibits an attorney or a person from issuing a demand for money to a building owner or from receiving any payment, settlement, compensation involving a claim that the building is not accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Foreclosures – Termination Notice to Tenants - AB 2610 (Skinner, D-Berkeley) – CAA Position: Support - AB 2610 is sponsored by the California Attorney General. Just like Federal law, the bill will provide protections to tenants who are in place at the time of a foreclosure. Among other things, this bill will do the following:
• Require the property owner to provide at least 90 days’ notice of termination to a month-to-month tenant.
• Honor the lease of a tenant until the end of the lease term, unless the property is sold to a buyer who will occupy the premises as his or her primary residence. In that case, the tenant is entitled to 90 days’ notice.

These notice provisions do not apply to:
• Tenancies where the tenant is the child, spouse, or parent of the mortgagor;
• The lease or tenancy was not the result of an arms-length transaction; or
• The rent is substantially less than fair market rent for the property.

Smoke Detectors - SB 1394 (Lowenthal, D-Long Beach) – CAA Position: Neutral - This bill requires that on or before January 1, 2016, an owner must ensure that smoke alarms are located in each bedroom. Those smoke alarms may be battery operated.