Valley Voices

Adam Goldfarb: Housing troubleshooter – teach renters, landlords rights, responsibilities

Amid outrage over Summerset Village, California Apartment Association urges prevention through education. It’s only natural for the people of Fresno to experience outrage over the conditions at Summerset Village apartments.

More than a thousand residents went for weeks without heat and hot water. A number of code violations exist, and apartment residents should never have to withstand third-world living conditions – especially in the largest city in California’s Central Valley.

The residents at Summerset Village endured hardships through no fault of their own, and the Fresno community, including responsible rental housing owners and managers, are embarrassed about the substandard conditions.

As our community examines what went wrong, let us also seek ways to prevent this situation from recurring. I propose that doubling down on education regarding the rights and responsibilities of both rental housing providers and residents is paramount.

The resources for educating owners and renters are readily available through the California Apartment Association, the state’s leading industry trade group for the rental housing industry.

The association, with 13,000 members statewide and a history spanning more than 70 years, provides its members with a plethora of compliance documents and in-class courses and webinars throughout the year to ensure best practices among all rental housing professionals.

CAA prides itself in its code of ethics, which it insists that its members abide by – and encourages nonmembers to follow as well. Although an association for property owners and managers, CAA believes strongly in the rights of renters to live in safe, habitable conditions.

In fact, its code of ethics for members requires compliance with the CAA Resident Bill of Rights, including the following:

▪ A resident has the right to be treated fairly and equitably when applying for, living in, and vacating a rental residence.

▪ A resident has the right to be given notice prior to any entrance into a rental residence by a rental property owner or manager, except in an emergency.

▪ A resident has the right, upon written request to the rental property owner or manager, to a prompt response to requests for repairs.

▪ A resident has the right to a written notice from the rental property owner or manager prior to any rent adjustment.

▪ A resident has the right to the return of any security deposit that may have been collected by the rental property owner or manager and a good faith accounting of any charges against that deposit within 21 days after the rental residence has been vacated.

Visit CAA’s website, caanet.org, to gain greater insights into the ethical principles followed by property owners and managers in Fresno and other regions in California.

CAA stands at the ready to partner with the Fresno community, from elected officials to code enforcement officers to nonprofits, so that we can assure quality housing among multifamily properties and prevent dilapidated conditions.

CAA is committed to informing rental property owners and managers, as well as renters, about California’s myriad rental housing laws, how to best comply with these regulations, and ways to troubleshoot problems at apartment communities like Summerset before they deteriorate into a crisis.

Adam Goldfarb is a member of the California Apartment Association’s statewide board of directors, as well as CAA’s Fresno Advisory Board. Goldfarb also is vice president, multi-family, at Manco Abbott. He can be reached at agoldfarb@mancoabbott.com.

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