how to be a landlord in california

How to be a Landlord in California

Ready to turn your home into a money-making rental property? Becoming a landlord in California could be the perfect move for you. The average rent in California’s top cities runs from roughly $900 on the low end up to $4,000 and more in renter-heavy areas like San Francisco. 45% of California’s residents are tenants, so demand for quality rental properties has most homes on the market for fewer than 20 days.

Calculate ROI on California Rental Property

Wondering how much money a California rental property can earn you? Enter your property’s information into our rental property calculator to get started!

How to Become a Landlord in California

1. Preparing your California rental property

Popular California rental properties feature updated appliances, air conditioning, open floor plans, and smart safety upgrades. Equipping your property with these sought after rental features will allow you to increase your rent from the base level to something that will earn you a pretty profit. Another great feature for this sunshine-loving state? A functional and stylish outdoor space for pets and activities.

Best Practice: Determine the rental price that works best for your own budget and view nearby rental properties in that price range. If your property is nicer, you can raise the rent. If it falls short of the nearby properties, make strategic upgrades to bring it up to par. Grab a free rent estimate report to see what the pricing market looks like in your neighborhood. 

2. Review California Landlord-Tenant and rental laws

Before becoming a landlord, you should review California’s landlord-tenant laws. As in all things, knowledge is power. Knowing which responsibilities fall to the renter and which fall to you will help you comply with state and local laws surrounding landlord responsibilities.

Best Practice: Familiarize yourself with California’s landlord rights, tenants’ rights, and the fair housing laws in your city to make sure that you are always in compliance. These laws can be different from county to county, so make sure to understand what those laws are in your area. 

3. Advertise your rental property

When it’s time to advertise your rental property, you can save time and money by listing your rental online. While physical signs can bring in a handful of phone calls, creating an attractive rental property profile with professional quality photos will help to reach and entice potential tenants across the entire city.

Don’t: Use photos of cluttered or unstaged rooms. This is the properties first impression

Real estate photography tip: don't use images of unfinished rooms

Do: Open windows and turn on lights to make the room appear large and bright.

Real estate photography tip: turn on lights and open windows for brighter images

Best Practice: Make sure that your property is clean and empty, or tidy and staged before taking photos. These real estate photography tips can help you get great photos without the professional price tag.

4. Find the perfect tenant

With California’s high demand for rental properties, so you will likely receive multiple rental leads. Choosing the right tenant from the start will make being a landlord that much easier. Tenant screening services allow you to see valuable renter information — like if they pay their rent on time or if they’ve been evicted before. Knowing this will help you narrow down your options.

Best Practice: Combine the rental application and tenant screening process using an online tool designed with landlords like you in mind.

5. Landlord Check-Ins & Maintenance

Wondering how often landlords can inspect a property in California? Random inspections are not allowed in California. However, a landlord can visit the property to make repairs or maintenance, to show the property to potential new tenants, if they think the tenant has abandoned the property, or in the event of an emergency.

Your lease should clearly define when and how often maintenance will be performed at your rental property. Additionally, make clear what repairs that you as a landlord are responsible for, and the time limit to complete said repairs. California law requires that tenants wait a reasonable amount of time after making a repair request (typically between one and thirty days) for the repairs to be completed.

Best Practice: Include maintenance and repair information in your lease so that your tenant knows exactly what to expect. Also make sure to follow any local and state laws regarding repairs. Here is a helpful guide on how long a landlord has to fix something.

Bonus: Learn About Taxes on Rental Income in California

Rental income in California is treated as regular personal income and taxed accordingly. However, your operating expenses like mortgage interest, pest control, property taxes, and yard maintenance can reduce your taxable rental property income.

Best Practice: Keep receipts for all of the services you pay for to maintain your rental property so when tax times rolls around you are prepared. 

Becoming a landlord in California can be a great way for you to make passive income. Online landlord tools allow you to advertise your rental, accept applications, run tenant screening reports, receive payments, and communicate with tenants without driving all over town. California’s rental industry is booming — don’t miss your opportunity to jump into the profitable landlord game in your own city.

Join the 300,000+ independent landlords that rely on TurboTenant to create welcoming rental experiences.

No tricks or trials to worry about. So what’s the harm? Try it today!