Becoming a Landlord

There are many resources available to assist you as you prepare to rent out your accessory dwelling unit, find a tenant, and execute a lease.

Getting Ready to Rent

Sharing Housing – This website has lots of useful advice about sharing your home; much of it applies even if your tenant will be in a private apartment. The site has a blog that addresses common concerns of first-time landlords, and several worksheets that will help you to get started.

Tax Advice – As a landlord, some of your expenses will be tax-deductible. Talk with your tax adviser to find out what records you will need to keep.

Housing Provider Rights and Responsibilities – This brochure from Fair Housing Advocates of Northern California outlines fair housing practices that you should be aware of as a landlord and gives examples of both illegal and recommended practices.  

Guide for Landlords and Tenants  – You should familiarize yourself with the contents of this  guide from the California Department of Consumer Affairs. It covers many topics, including unlawful discrimination, security deposits, and repairs.

Nolo Press Landlord Webpage – A great source of overview information, forms, and links to documents that will help you to understand your responsibilities as a landlord.

Finding a Tenant

Home Share is a Marin County program offered by Episcopal Senior Communities. Homeowners with an extra room are matched with home seekers who are looking for an affordable housing option. The program manager, Christine Ness, conducts a personal interview and needs assessment with the homeowner, interviews potential tenants, facilitates potential matches, helps the parties reach an agreement, and will even assist in resolving conflicts that arise over the term of the rental. Christine can be reached at 415-456-9068 or cness@jtm-esc.org.

In Sonoma County, shared housing services are provided by SHARE

Housing Choice Voucher Program (formerly Section 8) – The Marin Housing Authority (MHA) runs this program. Tenants pay 30% of their income toward the rent, and the Housing Authority pays the remainder, depositing their share directly into your bank account each month. Your property would be listed in MHA’s database and you would interview potential tenants who have been pre-screened by MHA. There are many program benefits for landlords.

Vetting your Prospective Tenants

There are online services that you can use to run a credit check and a criminal background check on your prospective tenants.

Problem Resolution

The Marin County District Attorney’s office offers no-cost landlord/tenant dispute mediation for rental properties anywhere in the county. Disagreements about requested repairs, violation of lease terms, return of security deposit, and more can be mediated. Mediation is now mandatory for disputes about large rent increases (over 5% increase within a 12-month period) for rental properties in unincorporated sections of Marin County. The dispute resolution request form is here. The office can be reached at (415) 473-6450. These services are also available in Spanish by calling (415) 473-6188.

The Lawyers in the Library program offers free 20-minute consultations on landlord/tenant and other issues to anyone living in Marin County who does not have an attorney.  Services are also available in Spanish.