Tenant can run day care from home
Robert S. Griswold | Steven R. Kellman | Ted Smith
This column on issues confronting renters and
landlords is written by Counselor of Real Estate and
Certified Property Manager Robert Griswold, host of Real
Estate Today! with Robert Griswold (10 a.m.
Saturdays on AM1130 - KSDO radio, or on the Internet
and by attorneys Steven R. Kellman, director of the
Tenants' Legal Center, and Ted Smith, principal in a law
firm representing landlords.
Q: I rent a large, three-bedroom home and recently opened a small
licensed family day care there. My landlord said that I must seek
another option for employment because they will not allow me to have a
day care in their home. The lease does not say anything about day care.
Can they evict me or prevent me from earning a living at home?
A: Smith: Many California landlords are caught off guard by a
little-known law that allows a licensed day-care home provider to
operate a baby-sitting business in a residential rental property even
though zoning and lease clauses prohibit commercial use.
There are strict requirements. The day-care provider must be licensed by
the Department of Social Services. "Casual" baby-sitting
arrangements may be prohibited by the landlord. Further, no more than
six children are
allowed for the small day-care home.
The provider must have one of the following: insurance, bond, or signed
waivers of liability by the parents. In addition, a higher security
may be charged.
The day-care provider does not have additional or superior rights than
your other residents, and cannot escape responsibility for the
activities of the children. She, along with the other residents, is
required to comply with all rules and regulations of the property
pertaining to health and safety.
She must ensure that the children are kept under control to avoid
disturbances to other residents and neighbors. If the children annoy or
disturb other residents or neighbors, this may prove to be a ground for
Kellman: Many California tenants are surprised when they are turned down
for a rental because they want to run a licensed family day-care
facility in the residence.
Others are surprised when they receive an eviction notice after they
inform the landlord that they want to start such a facility in their
Tenants should be surprised by this because such actions of landlords
illegal. Our legislature has declared that it is the policy of this
to allow tenants to have family day-care homes.
A landlord may not refuse to rent to or evict a tenant because the
wants to run such a home.
Your lease does not need to say anything about this facility since it is
your right to operate one whether the lease allows it or not. A
lease provision unconditionally prohibiting a family day-care use would
be void anyway.
If your landlord attempts to evict you for operating such a home, a
should rule that the eviction attempt is improper and allow you to stay.
Besides losing the eviction court case, the landlord could be held
to pay you damages for even attempting such an eviction.
Ambushed by brush
Q: My ex-wife recently had to spend the day clearing brush around the
house she rents in a rural area. Local fire officials had left a note on
property manager's door last week notifying him of the need to clear the
The property manager left copies of the notice on the doors of the four
rental houses on the property with instructions that it was the renter's
responsibility to clear the brush. My ex-wife keeps her yard in great
and the brush in question was strictly around the perimeters of the
I told her I was pretty sure this sort of maintenance was the
owner's/property manager's responsibility. Whose responsibility was it
clear that brush?
A: Griswold: The determination of who is responsible for the brush will
be based on the understanding between the parties. Apparently, your
ex-wife does maintain the yard and does a good job of it based on your
The question then is while your ex-wife handles the yard, is she also
responsible for the brush?
First, if your ex-wife was told or agreed to cut down or eliminate the
brush on the perimeter of the grounds or the lease states that she is
responsible, then she is.
If the lease or rental agreement is silent about the brush, then it most
likely will fall onto the landlord or their property managers.
Ultimately, the fire officials will expect that the owner of the
will be responsible.
Q: I have been renting and caring for the house I live in for 21 years.
met the owner once during that time and had only one property manager,
who retired three months ago.
The new property manager informed me of the change in property
management and gave me a letter confirming the change, where to send the
rent, and said there would be "no change in status."
Thirty days later we were hit with a $200 rent increase and a request
we sign a one-year lease. We think the rent increase is excessive
considering there are other houses on the block that rent for less.
I've been a good tenant and have taken care of the property as if I
it, even doing repairs at my own expense. I do not feel there have been
sufficient upgrades to the property over the years to warrant such a
I have asked the management for the owner's address, but she refused,
stating the owners agreed to the rent increase. I'm sure I can reach a
increase with the owner or offer an option to buy/rent to own, but I
have his name to go on. Can you help?
A: Griswold: The property management company is not required to give out
this information. The law provides that as long as the owners give you a
name of someone acting as their agent then they do not have to give you
their personal information either.
However, the owner's information is most likely available from the
County Assessors Office, but be forewarned that occasionally owners will
have their property tax bill sent to their management company or CPA
As you probably already know -- the owners (or the management company on
their behalf) have the legal right to raise your rent upon proper
It sounds like you would just like to present your side and ask the
for consideration in light of your lengthy tenancy and improvements you
Again, they do not have to legally make any accommodations for these
facts. Possibly their position is that the $200 increase already takes
these facts into account in spite of the other rental homes in the area.
Remember that rents on single family homes have risen dramatically over
the last 18 months and in today's rental market a $200 increase is not
YOU'RE A TENANT OR LANDLORD, the authors stand ready to
answer your questions in this column, although letters
cannot be answered individually. Write them at: Rental
Roundtable, Homes Section, San Diego Union-Tribune, P.O.
Box 120191, San Diego, CA, 92112-0191. Or you may e-mail
them at firstname.lastname@example.org
2000 Rental Roundtable
Robert Griswold and the Real Estate
Today! radio show strongly support the intent and the letter of all federal and
state fair housing laws. As a reminder to all owners and managers of real
estate, note that all real estate advertised is subject to the Federal Fair
Housing Act, which makes it illegal to advertise "any preference,
limitation, discrimination because of race, color, national origin or ancestry, religion, sex,
physical disability, or familial status, or intention to make any such
preference, limitation or discrimination." Additional state and/or local
fair housing laws may also apply. Be sure to inform all persons that all
dwellings offered or advertised are on an equal opportunity basis.
Revised and Updated -
Wednesday, April 26, 2006
Robert S. Griswold, CRE, CPM, CCIM,
PCAM, GRI, ARM
Griswold Corporate Center
Griswold Real Estate Management, Inc.
5703 Oberlin Drive, Suite 300
San Diego, CA 92121-1743
Phone: (858) 597-6100
Fax: (858) 597-6161
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