California rental properties

California Rental Properties

Owning one or multiple California rental properties can be incredibly rewarding. The concept of having a stream of positive cash flow is enticing, and can be a strong investment for anyone looking to further build their wealth and or their retirement.

While it is a smart investment, it can also be a lot of work. There are many pitfalls, assumptions, and mistakes that landlords often make when it comes to owning California rental properties.

For this article, I reached out to local property manager Karlie Ocenasek of Crown Realty Property Management in Vacaville to find out how a good property manager can help save you from some of the massive headaches that comes along when dealing with tenants, as well as some tips that landlords can use when juggling the many aspects of owning California rental properties.

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3 Common Mistakes From The DIY’ers

1. Improperly vetting their tenants

This is an easy mistake to peg, yet, so many landlords do a poor, or incomplete job when it comes to properly vetting their tenants.

Often, private landlords are targeted by poorly qualified applicants or worse, scam artists.  They can provide falsified information that may not be detected by a private owner, or turn a maintenance issue out of proportion, claiming possible lawsuit in an effort to reside in the unit without paying rent.  We have helped numerous owners get out from under a problem tenant, or regain control of their property by knowing the laws and holding the tenant accountable to the terms of their lease agreement.

According to Karlie, many landlords take on the task of trying to find their own tenants. Perhaps it’s a Craigslist ad, or a social media post, or even a traditional newspaper ad. Finding a good tenant for your California rental properties is difficult, what makes it even more difficult, is when you try take on the burden all by yourself.

The odds are, you will have a limited pool of applicant, and taking the time, or spending the money on the proper resources to screen your applicant can be very difficult. It’s for these reasons many landlords simply don’t do enough to properly recruit and screen applicants.

2. Incomplete Follow-up

Another common mistake landlords make when attempting to self-manage their California rental properties is that many landlords simply aren’t aware of the needed follow-up that comes with dealing with tenants. As the old saying goes, “get everything in writing.”

California is the Garden of Eden for lawyers. According to the ATR Foundation, California ranks as the biggest “Judicial Hellhole” with over 1 MILLION new lawsuits filled each year. When a landlord fails to properly document agreements, or outline specific procedures, it opens them up for a potential lawsuit. At that moment, their California rental properties and the rest of their assets are now potentially at risk.

Odds are, you as a landlord are not well versed enough in all of the laws and ordinances that you as a landlord must comply with, and according to Karlie, that’s OK! That is where having a trusted property manager who is well versed in those areas can come in handy.

The best thing you can do is contact a well respected and trusted property management company to take care of your California rental properties, because the last thing you want to see as a landlord is this guy.

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3. Misunderstanding The Market Value


Let’s run an easy, quick exercise. Without looking at Google, or thinking too much, answer this question, “what is the fair market rental value for my California rental properties”? If you cannot definitively answer that statement with bold candor and confidence, and know the sources for that knowledge, then perhaps you should delegate that task to a trusted property manager.

Just like they do when buying or selling a home, the rental rates in your market fluctuate. If you’re not careful, you can easily be charging an amount that is smaller than other comparable homes in your market. Leveraging a property manager can be really beneficial in making sure your tenants are paying the proper amount in rent, so that you can truly maximize your cash flow.

2 Little Known Benefits About Property Managers

1. Discounts, Discounts & Discounts

Here is the scenario I want you to imagine if you are a DIY’er on your California rental properties. It’s raining, and has been raining hard for days and weeks. You tenant contact you because they suddenly notice a leak coming in through the window and now it’s making a mess and causing havoc inside the home. You immediately contact a local roofer to try to get over there to mitigate the damages, only to hear from them that they are all booked up and can’t get out to the property for at least a week. On top of that, the preliminary estimate comes in at a price that you simply can’t afford.

Now imagine the same exact situation happening, this time, you’ve hired a property management company like Karlie’s to manage and oversee the property. Now you get more favorable treatment and pricing because she deals with her contractors in bulk. Is it “fair”? Probably not, but it’s the truth.

Contractors attempt to build solid relationships with property management companies because they need the constant workflow. Because of this, they offer priority scheduling, and flexible prices. Whatever small percentage you pay to have a property manager manage your California rental properties is easily recouped when you factor in the discounts you save when maintenance issues arise

2. Eyes In The Sky, Ears On The Ground

Solano county is home to Travis Air Force Base, and with that, many military personnel who own homes in Solano county are often forced to be long distance landlords on their California rental properties when they get stationed elsewhere.

Having a property manager like Karlie can be an invaluable resource. With routine drive-bys, and scheduled interior inspections, you can rest easy knowing that your investment property is being maintained properly. They can also make sure that particular vendors such as: landscapers, pool maintenance companies, etc are doing their jobs on a regular basis.


If/when the time comes for you to have to evict a tenant, they can handle that process in a time frame that is much quicker than what most assume.

Now imagine the same exact situation happening, this time, you’ve hired a property management company like Karlie’s to manage and oversee the property. Now you get more favorable treatment and pricing because she deals with her contractors in bulk. Is it “fair”? Probably not, but it’s the truth.

3 Important Ways To Protect Your California Rental Properties

1. Get LANDLORD Insurance

A common mistake many new landlords make, is they convert their existing primary home to a rental property, and they never tell their insurance agent. They incorrectly assume that their existing homeowner’s insurance will cover a claim from their tenants. Unfortunately, this is not true. The existing home insurance policy needs to be converted to a “dwelling fire” policy. “Dwelling fire” is insurancespeak for a “rental property insurance policy”.


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Changing the policy type requires a different set of insurance underwriting guidelines to be met, and it informs the insurance company that the home is “tenant occupied”.


Why does that matter? Think about it, a tenant by and large is not going to think about the same types of risks and exposures that a homeowner who resides in their home would. They simply do not have the “skin in the game” to worry about certain aspects of your home. If there is a water leak in the home, they can simply call Karlie up and mention it and wait for it to be fixed. A responsible home owner will attempt to mitigate the damage completely to make sure there is no mold, dry rot, or any other types of damages.

Insurance companies look at the overall risk factor on a home, and part of their equation is “who lives in the house”.

2. Add More LIABILITY Coverage.

We already mentioned above the judicial landscape of California. We cannot stress it enough! When you own California rental properties, you put yourself at higher risk of being sued. Unless you’re living next door to the property, maintaining a close eye can be tricky. It’s also very difficult to keep up with all the little things that pop up that create extra hazards such as: cracks in the concrete, overgrown tree branches, unknown wiring and plumbing issues, etc.

Liability coverage is the cheapest aspect of your policy. At i80 Insurance, we won’t write a single property that is below $500k in liability. We will also always suggest an extra umbrella policy that extends an extra $1-5 million in additional liability coverage.

Having the additional assets can make you a target for scam artists, lawyers, and those who wish to commit fraud. To them, you’re nothing more than a plump little sea lion swimming off the shore of South Africa, and they are the Great White shark looking to sing their teeth into you. For as little as $150 a year, you can quadruple your liability insurance on all your assets, including your California rental properties.

3. Add Personal Property Coverage.

When it comes to claims California rental properties, we see this one happen more than most. Typically, it is assumed that if you are renting your property out, then you are not keeping your personal property on site. However, we recommend that you carry this coverage on your landlord policy.

Having the coverage will cover those items in the house that are often overlooked such as:

Carpet/flooring, Appliances, HVAC, Water heaters, Cabinetry


Anything that is not permanently attached to the home would need to be covered under the “personal property” section of your landlord policy. Too often when we are quoting new landlord policies, we see most people do not have any coverage for personal.


Being the owner of one or multiple California rental properties is incredibly rewarding. It is a testament to an individual’s hard work, and diligence. It can be a wonderful and powerful investment opportunity. If not treated right, it can also be the source for some of your greatest headaches, and biggest liability exposures.

Do yourself a favor that will save you money, grief, and heartache, hire a professional property management company to oversee your property. The time and stress it saves you in the long run will far outweigh the nominal cost you pay to hire the service.

Next, consult with our agency to properly insure and protect your California rental properties. The knowledge of our staff and the advice you receive by hiring us to be your protection advocate can protect you from financial devastation, and make you whole again if or when a loss occurs. Your overall financial success matters too much to not hire professionals to protect it.

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