Q&A in Real Estate

Renting in LA: Is there a release clause if you need to get out of the lease?

If you want to move before your lease is over, notify your landlord as soon as possible so he can try to rent the unit to someone else. You may have to pay rent for the time it is vacant until your lease expires.  You may also have to pay the landlord’s costs for finding a new tenant. Try to negotiate the terms and conditions of breaking your lease with your landlord. You should read your lease to see if it allows you to sublet the rental unit. Subletting means that you rent the unit to someone else. If the lease allows you to do this, you can look for another tenant to take over your lease. While you should plan to stay for the duration of your lease, sometimes life happens. State laws vary and, while most states require landlords to mitigate damages by looking for a new renter, this isn’t the case everywhere. A release clause in your lease dictates what happens if you have to break your lease, allowing you to leave early if you pay a small fee and — in some cases — find a tenant to replace you.

 

Renting in LA: What’s the lease term?

While many residential leases last for 12 months, don’t automatically assume that your lease will last a year. Find out specifically how long your lease term is because you’ll be obligated for rent for the duration — and protected from changes such as the landlord raising rent. While a month-to-month lease can give you much more flexibility, you’re vulnerable to a landlord evicting you or raising rent soon after you move in. A longer lease provides more peace of mind that your housing situation will be stable. If you plan to stay put, you may even want to ask if the landlord would be open to a multi-year lease. You can end a month-to-month agreement and move out by giving your landlord a 30-day written notice.

Are there any other fees you’ll have to pay Renting in LA?

Knowing your total monthly cost is key to determining if an apartment will fit in your budget, so don’t assume utilities are the only expenses you’ll have to pay. Many larger apartment buildings have fees for parking, pets, and amenities. These fees could add several hundred dollars a month to your bill and you don’t want to be surprised when you move in to find you can’t afford parking or access to that awesome gym or rooftop pool. Many standard lease agreements provide for a late fee as an enticement for tenants to pay rent on time. States often regulate the amount that can be charged as a late fee. There can also be early termination fees. In addition, the exiting tenant may be required to pay any costs associated with finding the new tenant, such as a tenant screening fee. Try to negotiate these fees and you can sometimes shave off some of the cost.

Who pays for utilities?

It varies. Finding out what utilities are included is absolutely essential. Ask about water, sewer, gas, garbage pickup, Internet, and cable TV. You’ll also want to find out how heat is provided if you’re responsible for paying for it. In Los Angeles, there a are lot of places that have been converted into living spaces without the proper residential permits—a garage that’s been turned into a one-bedroom, for instance. If you are living in one of those illegal apartments, you should know that you still have the same protections that any other tenant would have. Get information up front before you have committed to a lease.

Do you need a guarantor?

Your landlord will almost definitely do a credit check and will want proof of income from you. In some cases, landlords will decide you can’t qualify on your own and will ask you to get someone to guarantee the loan for you. A guaranteer agrees to be responsible if you don’t pay the bills, which is a big financial risk for whomever signs your guarantee. If you can avoid having a guaranteer, all the better as you won’t have to put a family member or friend in a difficult position of putting their credit on the line for you. A Rent Guarantor is the legal term for an apartment co-signer, or a person that agrees to be legally responsible for the apartment, its condition, and the money owed for rent. Landlords want responsible renters, yet often due to history or a lack of experience, it can be hard to justify that they will be good renters.

How much do you need to move in?

Most landlords require you to pay more than just the first month’s rent when you move in. In fact, you typically need to come up with first and last month’s rent as well as a security deposit. Depending upon the monthly rent you’ll be paying, this can be a significant sum of money. And, landlords may ask for even more, requesting an additional deposit if your credit isn’t great or if the building is in-demand. Deposits may sometimes be negotiable, so if the upfront costs are too high, ask your landlord if there’s flexibility. This also a benefit of using an agent to assist you.

 

Should I try to avoid being at home when the house is shown?

ABSOLUTELY! You should definitely plan to be out of the house during any showings or open house your sales professional has scheduled. Buyers often feel uncomfortable speaking candidly and asking questions in front of the Seller. You want them to feel as free as possible to picture your house as their “dream home.” Hence, always be gone for showings. Before you leave, get the home in “show form.” Turn on all the lights, open all window shades, turn on some low music in the background, activate any waterfalls, spray some air freshener, and take your pets with you. This is the best way to get your home show-ready before leaving. The home will be light and bright, and ready to go!”

When should I turn off the utilities after selling my house?

Call the utility companies to have them perform a final reading on the day the buyer takes possession. The buyer will need call to have the service transferred to their name. Make sure you have the contact information for all your utilities (phone, Internet, water, sewer, gas, electric, trash, cable or satellite) before you start. Determine shut-off and activation dates. These dates depend on when you’re moving. We recommend having your utilities shut off the day after you move out. This way, you’re not in the dark as you move! Have your account numbers ready. Hang on to your most recent bills or take note of your account numbers so you can easily provide them when calling to schedule the switch. Make sure you pay any balances. While you have the utility company on the phone, ask about any final balances. Make sure to take care of those before your shut-off date. Leaving a balance unpaid could affect your credit rating. Give a forwarding address. Provide each company with your new address in case you have deposits to be returned, or a final bill to pay. Conduct a final meter reading when moving out. Once you’re ready to turn off the lights and leave, check your meters. Make a note (or take a picture with your phone!) of the reading on the meter in case of any disputes.

Should we sell before we buy another home?

Check with a lender first to learn if this is an option. Ask yourself if you are willing and able to carry two mortgages and deal with the stress that comes from physically and financially maintaining two homes. An experienced agent should be able to guide you to a good decision. Selling before buying is the way most people buy a home as the proceeds from the sale of a current home is usually required to buy a new one. Even with the cash on hand for the down payment, it is much harder to qualify for a new mortgage while carrying debt on the existing home. Bridge loans are available specifically for those who are buying and selling a home simultaneously. You get a short-term loan to cover the down payment on your new home before selling your old one. You could also get a home equity loan, or HELOC, but you may not be able to list your house right away.

Living in your Sold Home After Close of Escrow

After the closing, may we stay and rent our old home from the new owner until we are able to move into our new home?

This option can only be explored once you find a buyer. You may discuss your needs with your agent and he/she can determine if the buyer is both willing and able to postpone their own move into the house. To play it safe, the buyer may also charge a refundable deposit, just like any landlord would. Not all buyers will be willing or able to give you a rent-back – remember, they’re moving too and likely have to give their current home notice or have sold the home they were living in. Also, there’s always the chance that damages could occur while the seller is living there. That’s why, if you plan to have a rentback, expect to have a holdback deposit of anywhere between $5,000 to $10,000. Typically, lenders won’t accept anything longer than 60 days.

What Should I Avoid When Selling My Home?

There are certain home selling blunders that some sellers make that can kill a home sale before it even gets going. One of the most important steps to selling a house is determining the right price — the price that will let you sell in a reasonable amount of time, for a profit that you’re comfortable with. Pricing too high can deter buyers. Get the timing right: To avoid capital gains taxes on the sale of your primary residence, you’ll need to have lived in the home for at least two of the last five years. Not doing repairs: Even small defects can turn buyers off. If they walk through your home and find loose doorknobs, leaky faucets or wall dings, they’ll wonder if you’ve been neglecting bigger issues in the home as well. Finally, don’t let your emotions get in the way: To successfully sell your home, it’s important to separate your emotional connection to the home from the details of the transaction. It can be hard to negotiate with buyers when you love your home, but acting like a professional is important.

How Long Will It Take To Sell My Home?

Similar to the question about staging or selling a home empty, the length it takes to sell a home is not concrete. There are many factors that contribute to the amount of time it will take to sell a home. These are some of biggest contributing factors that impact the amount of time it takes from listing date to closing date: Current state of real estate market (seller’s market, buyer’s market, balanced market) Listing price – is it too high? What marketing strategies are used Buyers mortgage approval process And finally: Closing document review process

150 EL CAMINO DRIVE, LOS ANGELES,CA. 310-595-3888 © 2017 DOUGLAS ELLIMAN REAL ESTATE. ALL MATERIAL PRESENTED HEREIN IS INTENDED FOR INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. WHILE, THIS INFORMATION IS BELIEVED TO BE CORRECT, IT IS REPRESENTED SUBJECT TO ERRORS, OMISSIONS, CHANGES OR WITHDRAWAL WITHOUT NOTICE. ALL PROPERTY INFORMATION, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO SQUARE FOOTAGE, ROOM COUNT, NUMBER OF BEDROOMS AND THE SCHOOL DISTRICT IN PROPERTY LISTINGS SHOULD BE VERIFIED BY YOUR OWN ATTORNEY, ARCHITECT OR ZONING EXPERT. EQUAL HOUSING OPPORTUNITY.

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