Real Estate

Rent Watch

Contact information for emergency repairs

Q I live in a large apartment community. For the most part, the management staff has been responsive to repair requests, but there have been times when they are unavailable for extended periods of time. I'm concerned that an emergency may occur during one of these periods of absence. I asked for the property owner's name and contact number, but the managers refused. How do I get this information?

A Finding the contact information for the actual owner may be possible, but it may not be the best solution to your problem. If a rental complex has 16 or more rental units, state regulations (Title 25, Section 42) require the presence of a residential manager on the property. If the local managers are absent from the property for extended periods of time, that absence would violate this regulation.

In most situations, local management has the expertise and physical proximity to deal with issues, such as repairs, rather than an owner who may be more remote. However, if you need to escalate to the owner, most property-owner information is available, by street address, from county tax assessor records. Also California Civil Code 1962 requires that a tenant be provided the name, telephone number and usual street address of an owner or agent where personal service may be completed and to whom rent payments can be made. The code states this information must be listed in each rental agreement or posted in at least two easy-to-see places, including elevators. If you don't have a copy of the rental agreement, you can request one and the property owner or their agent must provide one within 15 days of your request. You may want to document the local staff unavailability in a written communication to the contact person as mentioned in Civil Code 1962. If an emergency involves a situation that falls within the landlord's duty to provide a habitable premises, such as adequate heating, the failure of management to be present and to take reasonably prompt repair action may entitle you to a remedy for damages.

Project Sentinel provides landlord-tenant dispute resolution and fair-housing services in Northern California, including rental-housing mediation programs in Palo Alto, Los Altos and Mountain View. Call 650-856-4062 for dispute resolution or 650-321-6291 for fair housing, email info@housing.org or visit housing.org.

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