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Conducting a proper move-out inspection for your Bay Area rental unit

In an earlier post, we said that one of the foremost things on the minds of outgoing tenants – even before they ask themselves how to get that giant sofa around a narrow doorway – is if and when the landlord is going to return the security deposit.

Given such an appreciable amount of money security deposits can be in tandem with the red-hot market of Bay Area rent prices, it’s no surprise that disputes over security deposits are the top reason rental property owners find themselves in Small Claims Court.

Landlords can be relieved to know that as a full-service property management company, Bay Property Group handles every phase of the tenancy, from start to finish, and while we love welcoming tenants to their new surroundings, we also ensure an orderly transition when they move on.

Overseeing move-outs is part communication, part accounting, and part knowledge of the law and looming over it all is the dreaded move-out inspection, but let’s rewind.

The circle of life in a tenancy

Upon inception of the rental relationship, Bay Property Group conducts a move-in inspection to have a dated reference for any damages incurred down the road that “exceed normal wear and tear.”.

As sticklers for documentation and taking copious notes, we use an inspection checklist and record/photograph the condition of the property to avoid any confusion down the road and reduce the likelihood of friction over security deposit refunds.

This initial assessment of the property is logged, signed and dated to indicate a mutual agreement on its condition prior to handing over the keys. Fast forward to the move-out inspection, and we now have a clear “before and after” picture.

Move-out inspections are not only a good practice – it’s the law. 

Although it can be waived, the tenant has the right to ask the landlord to inspect the rental unit before the tenancy ends, so that the landlord (or his or her agent) can identify defects and afford the tenant the opportunity to do the identified cleaning or repairs in order to avoid deductions from the security deposit. During this initial inspection, the tenant is entitled to be present.

These rights must be communicated, however, through written notice. There are many legal nuances, but our clients can trust that the notices we give are compliant with the law and that our Broker of Record, Daniel Bornstein, is also a prominent Bay Area attorney specializing in managing landlord-tenant relationships who routinely imparts informed advice if there are any curve balls thrown at us.

Scheduling the initial inspection 

When the tenant requests an initial inspection, Bay Property Group will arrange for a mutually convenient date and time, scheduled no earlier than two weeks before the end of the tenancy or lease term. We certainly give the tenants ample time to rectify any defects and allow them to recoup the full amount of the security deposit.

As prescribed by law, Bay Property Group provides at least 48 hours’ advance written notice of the date and time of the inspection. Exceptions apply but, once again, you can rely on us to handle any arcane details if the situation warrants.

There are many things we look for in the move-out inspection, and inevitably the question arises, “what is normal wear and tear?”. This can be a subjective term, but Daniel Bornstein has prepared a good infographic to provide some contextual framework.

Download the Security Deduction Guide, courtesy of Bornstein Law

Common pitfalls

When it’s time to close the curtains on a tenancy and usher a new resident in, move-out inspections can be awkward, especially if you have built rapport with the tenant. In this pressure-cooked moment, your every move may be watched and it’s not uncommon for tenants to use cosmetic means to cover up serious issues. These delicate farewells, then, may be best approached with a third-party who has a fiduciary obligation to protect your rental business while being fair to tenants – you can rely on the steady hands of Bay Property Group.

Another potential pitfall is the landlord prematurely promising the tenants that they will get back their full security deposit, after succumbing to pressure. Landlords should not make emphatic statements like this until a thorough inspection has been conducted, all I’s are dotted, and T’s are crossed.

Like most other landlords matters, we’ve only scratched the surface here with much more to be said about move-out inspections, but you can leave the rest to us. At Bay Property Group, we handle your rental business from start to finish so that you can focus on enjoying your continuous income.

Finding and retaining long term renters in the Bay Area

Keeping long term tenants to increase the profits of your Bay Area rental

Tenants who are in it for the long-haul are clearly a desirable bunch to have. As a full-service property management company serving landlords in San Francisco, Oakland, and locales throughout the Bay Area, we have found unsurprisingly that long term tenants are good custodians of the units they occupy, reducing the likelihood of damages we would expect to find in the wake of more transient residents. Of course, by virtue of the fact they stay implanted, long term tenants make regular rent payments without interrupting the landlord’s income.

Long term tenants are also more likely to obtain renters insurance, a topic we covered in an earlier post. There, we debunked the common misconception that renters insurance only protects the resident’s “stuff,” when in fact, it also includes liability coverage. This is a big sigh of relief for landlords when something calamitous occurs.

For instance, a guest falls on a frayed carpet in the hallway and is injured. These policies may also cover housing costs if the tenant has to be temporarily displaced during repairs, and so renters insurance is a bit of a misnomer, as it carries a host of benefits for owners, as well.

Finding and retaining long term tenants is difficult, but Bay Property Group has this.

Ironically, ensuring long-term tenancies begins before the inception of the relationship. Although we have technology at our disposal that can put a finger on raw credit score and other metrics, as well as identify red flags, technology cannot be used as a crutch. A culture of amnesty has led to state laws and a cooperative effort between the credit bureaus to sometimes conceal judgments, evictions, and other data points. Daniel touches on this topic here.

Translation for landlords: Bay Property Group will do our due diligence in evaluating rental applicants relying not only on technology that can be flawed, but also by using some old-fashioned personal sleuthing by talking to past landlords and the like.

It’s a difficult enough feat to attract the long term tenant, but the real challenge is in keeping them happy.

When something breaks down, tenants need quick resolutions to maintenance issues. We noted earlier that while leasing agents can welcome tenants into their new surroundings, he or she will be conspicuously absent in responding to maintenance requests – that’s the domain of Bay Property Group.Our 24/7 maintenance team can quickly address any glitches and despite its shortcomings, this is where technology shines through as residents stay happy with a tenant portal that gives them self-service options to submit maintenance requests with the click of a button.

Open communication is always a hallmark of a good rental relationship, and one we strive for to maintain the longevity of the tenancy. If there is any friction that arises, you can rely on a conduit to proactively address the concerns early on and not let the situation fester.

We’ve always likened landlord-tenant squabbles to be like a game of tug-of-war. The harder each side pulls on the rope, the tighter the knot becomes. The goal at Bay Property Group is always to untangle the knot before the situation is enlarged.

There are still other tips we can dispense, but we’ll reserve them for later posts – stay dialed in.

Concord weighs rent control proposals

With median one-bedroom rent prices hovering below the state average of $1,750 per month, Costa County’s largest city is still welcomely affordable, but rising rents have sparked concerns.

Bay Property Group believes that successful property management entails a solid understanding of laws and regulations that are germane to owners. 

In our last post on Hayward’s Residential Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance, we said that after some soul searching, Hayward will likely usher in a new regulatory regime. We now pivot to Concord, a city that has flirted with rent control since 2016, when tenants’ concerns led to a series of public meetings on the need for added protections. 

In a deliberate approach, an Ad-Hoc Committee on Rental Housing was formed in January to take a hard look at what Concord’s rent control policies may look like, taking into account the viewpoints of tenants and landlords. 

That committee made the following recommendations: 

  • Modification of the city’s Residential Review Program. Under the program’s existing guidelines, tenants who are staring at rent increases that exceed 10% in a 12-month period can seek non-binding conciliation and mediation services through a housing counselor retained by the City and if there is a deadlock, the tenant can call upon the Rent Review Panel to seek non-binding arbitration.
  • Extending property owner notice requirements for rent increases
  • Requiring rental property owners to offer leases of one year
  • Relocation assistance for tenants were also discussed, along with “just cause” eviction protections

After City Council has heard the committee’s recommendations, Bay Property Group can report that the city has rejected “just cause” eviction controls, but the city has warmed up to the possibility of adjusting the trigger for mediation, perhaps rent increases of 7% + CPI in 12 months. 

Minimum Lease Terms

With no dissent, City Council also signaled the intent to require landlords to offer a 12-month lease, although the tenant may opt for a month-to-month agreement or negotiate a shorter lease.

Binding Arbitration

Bay Property Group has always encouraged open communication between landlords and tenants and have facilitated in this free flowing dialog, yet an Administrative Law Judge may have the final word when parties cannot agree on a rent increase. That’s because Concord is considering binding arbitration, meaning once a ruling is handed down, it is binding. 

What’s next?

Concord city staff has some legwork to do in terms of producing documents and information in anticipation of a future council meeting – the date is up in the air, but the council will meet before 2019 closes out. As part of our ongoing commitment to keep rental property owners informed, Bay Property Group will of course follow developments in Concord and throughout the Bay Area closely.

What Hayward’s Residential Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance means to rental housing providers

In a nutshell: Rent increases capped, mandatory mediation and binding arbitration has been established, just causes to evict are required, and discrimination against Section 8 tenants is prohibited.

Bay Property Group attributes our success in building long term relationships to taking care of landlords and tenants alike, yet as we noted in earlier posts, it’s no secret to anyone that the Bay Area is an expensive place to live. With the high cost of living, it’s no surprise that there have been calls for increased tenants’ protections.

We love owners and we have a big heart for tenants. As a full-service property management company, our role is not to legislate, but to be a conduit of information and share regulatory changes as they arise. Here, we focus on a new set of rules for Hayward. Some key takeaways from a recent City Council meeting:

Ceiling on rent increases

Rent increases are capped at 5 percent until July 25, the date on which the new Residential Rent Stabilization and Tenant Protection Ordinance becomes law.

Mandatory mediation and binding arbitration

Bay Property Group has always encouraged open communication between landlords and tenants, but the ordinance will compel landlords to engage with tenants by mandating mediation and, if the friction continues, an Administrative Law Judge will issue a binding ruling through arbitration.

This quasi-judicial process will be triggered when the landlord wants to raise the rent by more than 5 percent a year.

Reporting rent increase notice and eviction notices to the city

In the interest of transparency, Hayward landlords will need to bring rent increase notices and notices to terminate tenancies to the light of day by giving the city notice.

Prohibition of denying Section 8 applicants

Landlords cannot explicitly deny tenancies because the applicant is a recipient of a government subsidy.

Just cause eviction protections

The  new ordinance delineates specific justifications by which landlords can evict a tenant.

At the colorful intersection of property management and the law.

Property management is largely based on knowledge of the law, and we know more than a thing or two. When there is an issue that arises that is beyond our scope of expertise, do not worry – our Broker of Record is Daniel Bornstein, an attorney who specializes in landlord-tenant law and someone who keeps a pulse on the many nuances in the changing regulations impacting landlords throughout the Bay Area.

Hiring a Bay Area property management company vs. leasing agent

Should you hire a property management company in the San Francisco Bay Area or a leasing agent?

Leasing agents can be a matchmaker, tasked with the limited role of filling a vacancy. A property management company is in it for the long haul.

In achieving your goals of protecting your real estate investment and maximizing its potential, it’s important to take self-inventory. Do you want to be hands on and “paddle your own canoe” when it comes to operating your rental business, or are you reluctant to play landlord? Perhaps you are fine with being a landlord so long as you rent to studious, respectful tenants who can afford your beloved rental, but need a little help filtering out the bad eggs so that you can minimize your headache and risk.

Many investment property owners in San Francisco and throughout the Bay Area are in a quandary when deciding whether to lean on a leasing agent to keep your units occupied and ensure a continuous flow of income, or hiring a full-service property management company to handle your business from A-Z, start to finish.

The answer lies in your unique objectives, so Bay Property Group will go over a couple “what ifs.”

RELATED POST: Economic benefits of hiring Bay Property Group Management

Do you self-manage your own rental property, but do not want to handle leasing?

If you are a landlord who wants to manage your property on your own but do not want to make the hard decision of selecting tenants, hiring a leasing agent may make sense. Keep in mind, however, that once tenants have been welcomed into their new surroundings, the leasing agent’s job is complete.

Also, while the leasing agent can put tenants in place, they cannot transition tenants out in the unfortunate event that rent is not paid, or other covenants of the rental agreement is violated. Perfect tenants should not cost you anything, but in an imperfect world, bad tenants can put a serious dent in your bottom line.

This is a difficult conversation to have, but one worth broaching. Since our Broker of Record is also a prominent real estate attorney, Bay Property Group is uniquely positioned to come to the aid of owners when rental relationships become taxed. Although some caveats apply, our “No Fee Legal Guarantee” can potentially save owners a substantial amount of money in non-payment of cases, since attorney Daniel Bornstein is on standby to assist, at no additional cost.

Do you want the continuous service of a property management company in San Francisco or other Bay Area locales?

While collecting money every month may be appealing, but many owners discover being a landlord is not so easy a gig. If you find that operating your rental business is not a cushy job, perhaps it’s time to consider calling upon a property management company so that you can put your rental business on coast. When Murphy’s law sets in, the leasing agent will not handle burst pipes, broken doors, lost keys, or broken boilers, much less at 2 o’clock in the morning.

Clearly, a property management company can add more value in terms of keeping your property running. All while being dialed into real-time accounting statements, industry-leading technology coupled with a human touch and feel.

If you are a hands-on landlord that merely wants help in ushering tenants in, perhaps a leasing agent can fulfill the goal. As a full-service property management company, Bay Property Group can perform this identical goal, and then some.

Our foremost objective is to provide the information you need to make the most enlightened decision to achieve your unique goals. Contact us to see if Bay Property Management can be a pathway to your unique goals as a landlord.

Economic benefits of hiring Bay Property Group Management

Owning rental property is a smart investment. The next best investment is using a property management company to relieve your stress by handling all aspects of your business and having a legal team on standby if tenants become problematic.

As a rental property owner, you want to maximize Net Operating Income (NOI), while maintaining and ideally, increasing the value of your real estate investments. Given such a herculean goal, it may make sense to hire a property management company to handle the numerous, tedious tasks to achieve success in your real estate business.

Bay Property Group will do our due diligence in selecting the right tenants and managing the relationships, but fortune tellers we are not. We can do the next best thing by saving you legal expenses when you experience unforeseen glitches that require the services of an attorney to address any stressors that may occur in a landlord-tenant relationship.

Will you make more money with a property manager? Some food for thought.

Many multi-unit property owners are unenthusiastic about the prospect of hiring a property management company because of the costs associated with outsourcing such a vast scope of work. This includes the upkeep of the property, screening tenants and welcoming them to their new surroundings, providing marketing and bookkeeping services, perhaps fixing structural defects or overseeing renovation projects, responding to tenant complaints, among the commission of other responsibilities that can quickly pile up and overwhelm a landlord.

Inexorably, time is money.

Bay Property Group can you time and energy, reduce your frustration and give you peace of mind knowing your real estate investments are being handled by a team of property management professionals.

This conservation of your resources is all the more welcome if you are a landlord who has the thankless task of managing multiple properties, especially when you have to hold down a full-time job.

Novice owners often encounter minefields and make costly mistakes that an experienced property management company will avoid. Also, if you are located far away from the investment property and do not want to travel on your own dime to maintain it, there may be heightened motivation to hire a property manager to keep it in shape.

There are many helpful tools on the Internet to help manage your property remotely, but clearly, it is no substitute for firsthand observations and hands-on management that can only happen by being on the front lines.

Having a knowledgeable property manager on the ground is especially helpful when something goes awry, for example, a plumbing breakdown. Unless someone close by can respond, it will be an exercise in frustration trying to get it fixed through multiple, annoying phone calls and arrangements.

Thinking long term

Tragically, many investment properties suffer from deferred maintenance and fall into atrophy, but the foremost goal of a property manager is to take good care of your investment to avoid costly repairs and to retain responsible, happy tenants.

If there comes a time when you want to bow out, Bay Property Group is also a full-service real estate brokerage that can liquidate your rental property for the most money the market can bear, in the shortest period of time and with the least complications.

Finding good tenants is critical to your rental business, and the hallmark of a good property manager. Tenants who do not pay rent or who are chronically late clearly have a negative impact on your bottom line. By renting to studious tenants, you will make more money because the undesirable tenants with a bad rental history and other red flags are weeded out.

As a full-service property management company, we do this through a combination of technology and old-fashioned, personal sleuthing.

When rental relationships fail, bounce back quickly

Although no stone is left unturned when screening tenants, sometimes life happens and for whatever unanticipated reason, even a model tenant can sometimes take a turn. You can count on our team to proactively address the situation and have a heart-to-heart conversation with residents who are not fulfilling their obligations.

We love all of our tenants and so as to not show preferential treatment, in the interests of fairness, our blanket policy is to serve a 3-day notice when rent is not paid and if the tenant remains delinquent after the notice is properly served, it regretfully is referred to our Broker of Record, Daniel Bornstein, who is also an attorney specializing in managing difficult relationships. Daniel works strenuously to mend relationships, yet we lament that in some circumstances, tenants may have to be transitioned out of the unit.

When repairs or renovations are necessary, get it right the first time.

If you were to do a google search for home improvement contractors in the Bay Area, you will be deluged with hundreds of results. Making the wrong selection of who you call upon can be disastrous.

Inexperience frequently leads to delays, expensive results and poor workmanship and even worse, invites hefty fines or lawsuits for multi-unit property owners. As a property management company with tentacles in hundreds of properties, we have a cadre of carefully vetted and battle-tested contractors on standby who will take the guesswork out of the equation.

All of the contractors we utilize are licensed and to insulate our clients from liability, this is a rule we will not budge on – you can save coins by a handyman who is a cousin or a friend of a friend, but we always advise our clients not to be a penny wise and a pound foolish.

Bay Property Group always pulls the requisite permits for a job and while we sometimes get surprised or get bogged down in red tape, we have a pretty good handle on the process and can expedite the project.

Remove yourself from uncomfortable conversations and the emotional fray

From our hard-won experience, rental property owners oftentimes face a conundrum or get in financial trouble when the landlord is unable to keep a professional distance from their tenants, and we don’t say that in a callous way. We are all human, but it’s important to compartmentalize your personal relationship and empathy with the tenant and the fact that you are operating a rental business.

A property management company can serve as a buffer between the landlord and the tenant, prioritizing the financial interests of the owner without the risk of being overly lenient on behavior that upsets the landlord. It is easier for a property manager to keep the relationship on a professional level, without hard feelings, by setting mutual expectations in the rental relationship and enforcing these covenants without the owner having awkward conversations.

Although by and large, our clients are stewards of their community by providing safe, clean and affordable housing and treat renters with respect, sometimes frank communication and serving necessary documentation is uncomfortable. When a landlord is reticent to address issues, it can lead to expense and a loss of income.

At Bay Property Group, we pride ourselves on taking good care of tenants, but we also can have difficult conversations when friction arises so that rental income is not interrupted or other expenses incurred.

Using unlicensed contractors a roulette wheel for landlords

In our many years of managing the real estate investments of our clients, Bay Property Group has forged longlasting relationships with a variety of contractors. While we painstakingly vet the home improvement professionals we hire to keep your property in good condition, from time time, Murphy’s law sets in.

Just a couple weeks ago, a pipe burst on what was considered a standard job, and this spilled into a neighboring unit. The event was unfortunate, but since the contractor was licensed and bonded, the insurance company funded brand-new plumbing fixtures in both units. Although the mishap was certainly an irritant, it was not catastrophic.

Have things just worked out just fine before? Don’t count on your good fortune to continue.

Accidents are unintentional — that is why they are called accidents. Bay Property Group has encountered many landlords who have unlicensed contractors on speed dial, and for the most part, jobs go off without a hitch. If this sounds like you, please don’t get a false sense of bravado. It only takes one time for calamity to strike and potentially, bankrupt your rental business.

Take, for instance, shoddy work on a heating system that results in tenants suffering carbon monoxide poisoning, and you have colossal liability.

Not uncommonly, many rental property owners call upon workers who go beyond the scope of their competencies. Someone skilled at carpentry, for example, may not be familiar with electrical codes.

Now is not the time to save a few coins by hiring a friend or your cousin

Hiring a friend or family member who is unlicensed is the same thing as hiring an unlicensed contractor — if something goes awry, the legal system will make no distinction when it’s time to pay up for injuries or damages, and oftentimes, friendships do not survive with a dark cloud of financial obligations, lost wages, and lawsuits looming.

Our policy

Bay Property Group is sometimes approached by landlords with a recommendation to utilize the services of unlicensed handymen in an effort to save some money. For many property management companies, this presents an ethical conundrum because risks have to be weighed against potential savings.

Bay Property Group understands the bottom line of owners and we work hard to maximize your return on investment, but on this topic, we cut no corners. Our blanket policy is to use licensed contractors and pull the proper permits to protect the long-term interests of our clients.

Success should not be left to chance.

First time homeownership for San Francisco first responders

Home ownership is a right of passage and we take great pride at Bay Property Group in helping all buyers glide smoothly into the joys of owning a home. While there are many programs available to those aspiring for the safety and security of homeownership, San Francisco has singled out certain good neighbors who contribute much to the rest of us and guarantee the safety and security of all.

We stated the obvious in an earlier post that the Bay Area is a notoriously expensive place to live and provided some hard and fast numbers on median home prices. Given such astronomical home prices, buyers who come with a hefty down payment can separate themselves from the curious to the serious.

For the missing middle-income first responders and educators, however, it’s challenging to scrape up the funds necessary to make a fighting chance in this housing market.

First responders who serve us are universally acclaimed as heroes, but in many cases, the pay does not match up to the acclaim. Some help can be provided.

Active, uninformed and sworn police and fire personnel can make their own call to help by taking advantage of the Downpayment Assistance Loan Program. Under DALP, special funds are allocated for first responders and educators who want to put a downpayment on a house.

Every closing is an emotional moment for us at Bay Property Group, but it’s especially rewarding when the buyers are repaid our debt of service to the first responders who deserve a home to call their own.

Renting in Albany California

Bay Property Group loves San Francisco and Oakland, but there’s a lot more to the Bay Area than these big-name cities. For aspiring residents who come to us to find their next abode, home sweet home can range from an urban loft to a refuge in the hills.

Dozens of towns surround San Francisco and major East Bay hubs and each has its own unique, only-in-the-Bay qualities that are worth apartment shoppers to consider, and one of them is Albany, a city on the east shore of San Francisco Bay in northwestern Alameda County. Situated between North Berkeley, El Cerrito, and Richmond, Albany is close to major freeways, as well as BART and other public transportation.

For residents seeking a small town ambiance with the vitality of a major city, Albany may be a good fit — it has it all.

Albany is home to Golden Gate Fields, where you can experience horse racing, spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay, and some of the best people watching the world over.

Solano Avenue is Albany’s main artery and offers a cornucopia of charming retail shops, bookstores, antique dealers, and ethnic restaurants with a variety of cuisines to satisfy every palate.

Residents with children will enjoy friendly neighbors, grassy parks and playgrounds, and top-notched schools with a tradition of excellence, consistently placed in the 90th percentiles year after year.

There is a lot to explore in Albany and throughout the Bay Area before you settle into your new apartment, and Bay Property Group will show you around. We know these towns.

Tax deductions for savvy Bay Area renters

Many renters feel left out after hearing about the windfall tax benefits that come with the perks of homeownership, such as mortgage interest and property tax deductions. It raises the question: can renters also deduct any of the taxes he or she pays?

In some cases, the answer is in the affirmative.

Freelance work from your apartment

Nowadays, it’s commonplace for many people to land freelance work to make a few extra coins on the side, especially with the Bay Area’s large pool of tech workers with skills in high demand. You probably know that as a freelancer, you can deduct business-related expenses against this secondary income — the cost of printing business cards or setting up your website, for example. However, you may be able to deduct part of your rent as a business expense, with several caveats.

To qualify for this type of deduction, you must have a delimited space in your living area where you perform all of your freelance work, and it must be used exclusively for your business activity. Parking your laptop on the kitchen table doesn’t transform the kitchen into your office.

Let’s say you rent a 1,000-square-foot apartment from Bay Property Group for $2,000 per month and you’ve carved out a 10-foot by 10-foot workspace (100 square feet) to get down to business and inspire the flow of creativity.

Doing the division, your workspace takes up 10%, meaning you may be able to deduct 10% of your rent as a “home office deduction.” Since your annual rent is $24,000, that translates into a potential $2,400 tax deduction. Other expenses you incur may be eligible for this deduction as well, but remember that the IRS requires and fully expects you to keep records to substantiate your expenses.

Nonrefundable Renter’s Credit

In California, you may be able to get a tax credit on your state income tax return for simply paying rent during the year. California’s Franchise Tax Board outlines who is eligible.


You must meet all of the following to qualify:

  1. You were a California resident for the entire year.
  2. Your California adjusted gross income (AGI) is:
  • $41,641 or less if your filing status is single or married/RDP filing separately.
  • $83,282 or less if you are married/RDP filing jointly, head of household, or qualified widow(er).

3. You paid rent for at least half the year for property in California that was your principal residence.

4. The property you rented was not exempt from California property tax.

5. You did not live with another person for more than half the year (such as a parent) who claimed you as a dependent.

6. You were not a minor living with and under the care of a parent, foster parent, or legal guardian.

7. You or your spouse/RDP were not granted a homeowner’s property tax exemption during the tax year.

  • You may still qualify for the credit if your spouse/RDP claimed a homeowner’s exemption and you maintained a separate residence for the entire year.

Of course, there are many other deductions that may apply to renters, such as charitable giving, student loan interest deduction, and more — please consult a tax professional. Bay Property Group are not CPAs and cannot give tax advice.

We can, however, help you find your next shiny Bay Area apartment. After your search is over, you can return to us to make secure rent payments with a couple of clicks, view balances, submit maintenance requests, get renter tips, and more, all in one place online.

Finding a Bay Area Apartment with walkability to everything else you need

Bay Property Group can introduce apartment seekers to walkable and transit-friendly neighborhoods. We’ll show you how easy it is to enjoy the walkable lifestyle.

There’s a lot to make your heartstrings zing in the Bay Area, but traffic is not one of them. Commuters have plenty of transit options available — trains, trolleys, BART, buses, bikes, scooters, and even electric scooters, yet many of us are still in love with those four-wheeled monsters.

It’s so bad that we have been ranked #8 on the top 10 list of the most congested city in the US, and if we keep adding more people to the region and the roadway, we just might catch up to Los Angeles, Moscow and New York before we know it.

One way to avoid gridlock is to temper the American dream and get out of your car — who wants to go ballistic just driving to the store for milk when you can waltz down to the corner instead?

Renters are discovering surprising benefits to their health, the environment, finances and the communities in which they live. Besides the weight loss of residents who live in a walkable neighborhood when compared to someone who resides in suburban sprawl, your feet have no pollution and walkability has been associated with higher levels of arts, organizations, creativity and civic engagement. Pedestrian-friendly places are happier places. After all, who doesn’t want to go outside once in a while?

A city’s walkability is determined by the ease of access to amenities (restaurants, banks, salons, shopping, parks, schools and so forth) and how many errands can be done without dragging around a two-ton carcass of steel that is expensive and belches climate change.

Fortunately for apartment seekers, it’s easy to live the walkable lifestyle in the Bay Area. Walk score has been around for more than a decade and uses an algorithm to measure how convenient it is to do daily errands without wheels. After routes to various amenities are analyzed, points are awarded and residences are rated on a scale of 1 to 100.

Walker’s Paradise
Daily errands do not require a car
Very Walkable
Most errands can be accomplished on foot
Somewhat Walkable
Some errands can be accomplished on foot
Most errands require a car
Almost all errands require a car

This could have a bearing on your next moving decision. For many of our tenants, walkability is almost equal to price as the most important criteria, and they can find it in the Bay Area. Since our growth occurred before the automobile age, you can say our region was built for moving on foot.

The City by the Bay
Nob Hill and Pacific Heights have panoramic views for a reason — those hills make San Francisco walkers stronger, but even taking into account the harrowingly steep hills, San Francisco weighs in at a walk score of 89, with easy commutes to Silicon Valley and other destinations, and a stroll away from culture, art, Golden Gate Park’s mash-up of people, and so much more. You are hard pressed to find a spot in San Francisco that doesn’t have everything you need — San Franciscans can walk to an average of 3 restaurants, bars and coffee shops in the span of 5 minutes.

The most walkable neighborhoods include Downtown-Union Square, Lower Nob Hill, and Chinatown, the most walkable neighborhood which comes in at a perfect score of 100.

In an earlier post, we noted that Oakland no longer plays second fiddle to San Francisco. As a cultural playground and nestled in a stunning location on the shores of Lake Merritt with transit-friendly living, Oakland is an icon of walkable living. This sustainable city ranks 72 overall on Walk Score, though many neighborhoods hover in the ’90s. Walkers can discover paradise in Downtown, Koreatown-Northgate, Temescal, Piedmont Avenue, and Mosswood, all in the top 5.

Stay tuned for future posts as we explore other communities, but suffice it to say Bay Property Group would welcome the opportunity to be your escort on the exciting odyssey of finding your next shiny apartment in the Bay Area. Contact us to start the journey, or view current vacancies to get the creative juices flowing.

Assistance for San Francisco educators buying their first home

It’s hard not to have lots of respect and love for all the teachers and staff in the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD). Although they mold the minds of the next generation and inspire a lifetime of learning and discovery, an educator’s paycheck doesn’t always reflect the vitally important role they play.

Sadly, many teachers and school staff cannot afford to live where they work, but there may be some relief. The Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community (MOCD) has said in no uncertain terms that the city’s overarching goal is to create more homes for all San Franciscans, yet SFUSD employees are given special recognition in affordable home buyer programs.

The Teacher Next Door Program (TND) can give educators a hand up in buying their first home in San Francisco, infusing funds for down payment and closing costs, but there is more than a little bit of legwork to do. Candidates have to complete home buyer education and contact an approved lender to initiate the process.

Bay Property Group notes that buying always requires more preparation than renting, and so educators may be well advised to jump through a few extra hoops to potentially receive meaningful assistance.

This program tailored to educators is typically layered on top of other MOCD loan programs.

As a property management company and full-service brokerage, Bay Property Group always loves handing over the keys to new tenants and new homeowners, but as parents, we are a little biased when we say helping teachers find their first home is a little more gratifying.

San Francisco apartment living to enjoy the golden years

At Bay Property Group, our goal is to find the right-sized apartment for renters of all budgets and unique needs and we share the excitement of our residents when the keys to their shiny new apartment are handed over, but there is a special place in our hearts for tenants looking for a rental to enjoy their Golden Years.

The demographics of the rental market is changing. We were intrigued to come across this RentCafe article on the growing numbers of renters age 60+, a group on the cusp of surpassing those aged 34 and under.

Bay Property Group has personally welcomed many active seniors to their new surroundings and so while the raw numbers are interesting, we didn’t necessarily learn anything new. We are encouraged, however, that older adults are getting the respect they deserve in a changing rental market.

A new lease on life

Although the family home and its lifetime of memories are something to be cherished, many of our residents have made the choice to downsize when the kids have moved out and maintaining the home loses the charm it once did.

Bay Property Group knows the transition may be difficult, but it also begins a fun and exciting odyssey. It may also make good financial sense. We look forward to softening your landing and starting a new chapter in life.

Let’s start the journey

Want to live right in the thick of things? San Francisco apartment living can be a good choice for seniors who prefer to be surrounded by action. With a cornucopia of attractions, bustling and easily walkable streets and easy access to public transportation, the City by the Bay may be an excellent choice.

If a quieter area of San Francisco is more to your heart’s liking, Bay Property Group will show you the options. No matter your tastes and needs, we will help you zero in on the community, features, and amenities you need in an apartment at this stage of your life.

New friends and memories are on the horizon.

Sustainability tips sized just right for renters

Sustainable lifestyles are in vogue, with many tenants saying, “show me the green.” Especially with high rents in our area, Bay Property Group has seen increased tenant awareness of the potential for energy cost savings and doing their part in treading lightly on the environment.

As a real estate brokerage, we can help you achieve homeownership. Until then, although it’s exhilarating to daydream of owning a home with solar panels, rainwater toilets, geothermal heating, and a green roof, renters can’t change the infrastructure of the building.

It comes down to living smarter and using less to save the money that can go into your off-the-grid dream house fund.

With an ever-growing number of toys that tenants must have, powering electronics is a growing part of a resident’s energy bill.

Computers, televisions, gaming systems, phones, and other portable devices are hungry for electricity, but when you consider the charges needed to power devices, it adds up even more.

We recommend plugging all your equipment into a power strip which, when switched off, will eliminate any standby draw from these devices. Another benefit? Your equipment will be protected against power surges.

Computers can be kept in “sleep” mode when not in use, if not shut off completely — there is a widespread myth that turning a computer on and off is harmful. In fact, turning it off can actually extend its life. If your computer is always on, it can rack up your energy bill by up to 20 percent.

Monitors are another guzzler for electricity. Contrary to popular belief, screen savers are meant to save the monitor pixels from burn out, not to save energy.

New bulbs light the future

Lighting has come a long way since Thomas Edison patented the first light bulb in 1880. If you are using the same energy-wasting incandescent bulbs in your lamps and light fixtures, it’s time to use new technology that can reduce lighting energy by 50 to 75 percent.

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) are the most common energy efficient bulbs on the market, using a fraction of the electricity compared to old-school bulbs.

Also, consider taking advantage of natural light during daylight hours and for those of you who like to tinker with things, you can also save money by installing timers to reduce the amount of time your lights are on. Besides saving energy, timers — also known as light switch timers or timer switches — will bring more convenience into your life.

Other simple and affordable energy conservation tips:

  • Set refrigerator temperature to 36 to 39 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Set freezer to 0 to 5 degrees F.
  • Turn off the water while shaving and brushing teeth.
  • Do not preheat your oven except for baking.
  • Cover pots/pans when cooking.
  • On hot days in the Bay Area, use a fan for air circulation instead of air conditioning.
  • When it gets cold, turn down the thermostat 10 degrees at night and keep curtains open on the sunny side of your apartment during the day.

We hope you found this post informative, and it’s part of our ongoing commitment to make our resident’s living as comfortable and economical as possible. If you are not a current resident and looking for a place to call home, contact our office to go apartment shopping — we would love to welcome you to their new surroundings. You’ll enjoy our hands-on, personalized and service-oriented approach.

Moving to the Bay Area — the good, bad and ugly of moving companies

If you are moving to the Bay Area, you’re not alone. A burgeoning population, global tech reputation, getting around easily with public transportation, a live-and-let-live attitude and mild weather are just some of the reasons why people are flocking here.

Before you move into that shiny apartment, you’ll have to make the transition. Bay Property Group has seen many smooth moves but we have also witnessed some disastrous experiences for tenants trying to settle in.

Selecting the right moving company is among one of the most important decisions you can make, but with with a profusion of interstate and local moving companies, it’s not an easy decision. We urge incoming tenants to do their due diligence before hiring any movers and a recent news story on how moving companies are accused of defrauding consumers brings this admonition home.

If you are moving locally, there are many good movers who can get the job done affordably and ensure your items get safely to your destination. We suggest conducting some online sleuthing on Yelp and other websites, as well as asking pointed questions, like whether they are properly licensed, how many vehicles they have, what type of liability coverage you are getting in the event of a mishap during the relocation (we recommend full value protection,) along with other probing questions to ensure the company is on the up-and-up.

Moving long distances is where it gets trickier.

Unfortunately, there are moving services who may throw out a low quote that the tenant can’t refuse, but we advise our future residents not to be a penny wise and a pound foolish. Many unsuspecting tenants can encounter delays, damaged goods, extra costs, and even have their belongings held hostage by unscrupulous moving companies.

There are several major carriers who are household names in the moving industry.  While they may not be the cheapest game in town, you be reasonably comfortable that by hiring a reputable company, you can avoid the common pitfalls and horror stories reported by tenants who rely on fly-by-night services.

Move smart, make a plan, and once you make the transition, Bay Property Group will make sure your stay in that shiny new apartment is as seamless as possible — taking great care of our renters is one of the hallmarks of our services.

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