707.745.0924

216 First Street
Benicia, CA 94510
M-F 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM

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FAQs

Answers to your commonly asked questions

"Rent Ready" Maintenance?
Maintenance that is required for re-renting the property is handled by Estey. This includes painting, installation of new flooring, minor plumbing repairs such as leaky faucets, and the replacement of window blinds or screens. There is a cost to a property "turn around", as these are the items you would be doing at your home if it were vacant. It is the best time to do major replacement if needed. It is always hoped that your tenant will stay a long time so that these costs are kept to the normal repairs costs of the year. 


Occasionally, the replacement of appliances is required such as a stove, fridge, or dishwasher etc. We will get one bid from our trusted vendors and convey the price to owners for approval. 


Large projects such as new roofs, remodeling of a house, or preparing the house to sell, and/or coordination of contractors through an insurance company if is a claim, an hourly charge will be added to oversee the project. 


Applicant screening?
Every person over the age of 18 years must complete an application. Detailed credit report is run verifying employment, income payment records, UD, recent evictions, credit scores, late payments, accounts opened and closed and much more. Our rental criteria serve to help find the best tenant for your property.

Can I do my own maintenance?
Yes, but it is not advised. Owners tend to want to become friends of their tenants and exchange telephone numbers. When this happens, they may change the terms of the rental agreement, unknowingly. They may also cause tenant/landlord issues that Estey may not be able fix plus many other issues that have come up over the years as to reasons why. Any Owner that speaks directly to the tenant and makes a new agreement will be responsible for their statements. It can get into a "He said, she said" issue. Estey will not be held liable for these actions by the Owner. 

Can the resident get my personal information?
Our office staff is trained to protect your confidentiality. We will not release any information about you to anyone without your approval but by law, your name must be on the rental agreement. However, no other information is given. Be aware that anyone can access county tax records. If your address is on the tax rolls, you may be contacted! For addition protection, you can obtain a fictitious name and apply that name to your ownership records or simply use a post office box for all mail concerning your property including your tax records.

Do I get to see the rental application, credit report and lease of the tenant?
No. As agent of the landlord we are granted permission by the tenant to run credit. We are not allowed to provide the credit report or application to the owner without permission from the applicant and most applicants don't want their personal information being given out. This is very understandable in our current times of Identity Theft. 

Do I have to accept a Section 8 applicant?
No, not at this time. It is the owner's decision as to whether they want to accept Section 8 applicants or not. It is not a requirement of the law. But, if you do, we would screen the applicant just like any other applicant. There is a bit more paperwork involved but it is not overwhelming. This program helps many good people find and live in quality housing who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford the high cost of living in Santa Cruz County. 

I do currently have Section 8 tenants and am familiar with the process. 

Do you get more than one bid?
Estey gets bids for all work to be done and will email you with this information. If additional bids are asked for, there will be a service charge added to your account for the additional bids. After many years in the business and dealing with hundreds of vendors, we know the best prices and we have reliable, licensed vendors that give us the best price. To seek out other bids from vendors that we do not know, takes administration time to qualify them and get all the information needed. Vendors must qualify to work with Estey Real Estate but we are willing to do this at the owner's request. Owners must realize that vendors give bids, at no charge, hoping to get the job, if the Owners selects another vendor, the preferred vendors may decide it is too risky to work with Estey or they will begin to charge to bids. The charge will be passed on to you. Vendors that have bid many jobs eventually won't respond to our requests which affects our reputation and makes it harder for Estey to provide every Owner with the same high quality you can expect. 

Do you provide Market Analysis for rents/sales?
Yes. Estey is a full service real estate brokerage offer the best to our clients. Professional designations show that we do not stop the learning process plus years of experience offer by few in the area. Upon request, a Market Analysis of your area will be supplied. 

Does Estey prepare properties to sell?

Estey has preferred vendors and contractors that can complete any improvement to your property with outstanding service and workmanship in record time. Our working relationship and our constant use of these vendors managing your property and you decide to sell using a REALTOR® we have a relationship with, yes, we can help with preparing and overseeing contractors to get the property ready to list. We would work with the REALTOR® to coordinate all work to be done. We would handle the accounting and paying of vendors. This has been done in the past for a small monthly fee if the residence is vacant. 



We do not provide this service if an outside REALTOR® is being used and we don't currently manage the property. If we manage the property and an outside REALTOR® is used we will charge an additional fee to work with the REALTOR® during the sale process. 


The downside is you can't give a 30 day or 60 day notice to the tenant to vacate. They have a signed lease. The only time a notice can be given is within 30 or 60 days of the lease expiring. You just indicate you don't want to renew the lease. But, basically, you and the tenant are locked in for the specific time period of the lease. 


A month to month is better if you think you may want to sell, or foresee uncertainty in your future and want the ability to have access to your rental. The downside is that the tenant can move after 30 days and you have to start all over in getting the place rented again. 


Habitability and do I have to meet the requirements?
Rental property must adhere to habitability requirement of the State of California. They are enforceable by the local city or county building department. Failure to maintain your property to these standards may subject you to fines, lawsuits, and the law: Civil Code §1941.1.


A dwelling shall be deemed un-tenantable for purposes of Section 1941 if it substantially lacks any of the following affirmative standard characteristics:
Effective waterproofing and weather protection of roof and exterior walls, including unbroken windows and doors.
Plumbing or gas facilities which conformed to applicable law in effect at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
A water supply approved under applicable law, which is under the control of the tenant, capable of producing hot and cold running water, or a system which is under the control of the landlord, which produces hot and cold running water, furnished to appropriate fixtures, and connected to a sewage disposal system approved under applicable law.
Heating facilities which conformed to applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
Electrical lighting, with wiring and electrical equipment which conformed with applicable law at the time of installation, maintained in good working order.
Building, grounds and appurtenances at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents and vermin, and all areas under control of the landlord kept in every part clean, sanitary, and free from all accumulations of debris, filth, rubbish, garbage, rodents, and vermin.
An adequate number of appropriate receptacles for garbage and rubbish, in clean condition and good repair at the time of the commencement of the lease or rental agreement, with the landlord providing appropriate serviceable receptacles thereafter, and being responsible for the clean condition and good repair of such receptacles under his control.
Floors, stairways, and railings maintained in good repair.


A lease protects the owner as rent is guaranteed for a specific period of time. If the tenant breaks the lease, our contract protects the Owner. The tenant that is breaching the lease is required to pay all costs associated with getting a new tenant including leasing fees, advertising costs, utilities, rent and possible cleaning costs. Depending on the time of the year, the lease period could be 6-months to a year. Estey very rarely writes a longer lease period. 


Month-to-month rental period is just that, a 30-day agreement. The tenant may vacate within 30 days of giving notice. There is no contract that keeps the tenant any longer. This type of agreement is good for certain properties. 


How are maintenance requests handled?
If over $500.00, the owner is notified for approval unless it is an emergency. Estey will contact the owner by phone if it an emergency, fire or flood occurs, Regular requests for maintenance will be emailed, but no action is needed on your part, it is for information only. Estey will call a preferred vendor to handle all calls. Anything under $500.00, the Property Manager will use their best judgment in approving the work to be done. 

How long will it take to rent my property?
Our goal: To Rent Your Property as FAST as possible. It normally takes 30-45 days. If the property is occupied, we start marketing your property as soon as we receive a 30-day from your tenant and verify with you that do not want sell. We want you to have all the options available to you. Selling: Estey can list and market your property during the 30 period before the tenant vacates. If the monthly rental amount is higher than the market will bear at the time, it will take longer and may take months, if not at all. The rental market "peaks and valleys" very quickly and we don't want you caught, we can discuss a fair pricing for your unit. 

How should the property be prepared for a Tenant?
Fresh coat of paint is the best start.
Clean stove, hood, burner pans, light fixtures, steam grout
Wash blinds and get rid of dust
Replace caulking
Clean carpeting
Sparkling windows
Fresh clean cabinet fronts and interiors
Clean drawers
Empty closets
Yearly maintenance
Detail property survey, if requested
Legal compliance with state, county and city laws.


Vendors are available to detail the property, as a competitive price. Normally it is around $250-$350 depending on the size the size of the property.


Is an inspection done before and after the tenant vacates?
Estey does an inspection of properties that we manage before the tenant moves in. When the tenant takes occupancy, they are given a move-in inspection form to complete also. It is suggested that they also take pictures. When the tenant vacated, a move-out inspection is done. The condition reports are then compared. 


If the unit is a tenant fill only, the Owner is to document the condition with pictures and written description, as the property manager will. Remember, you must comply with all state laws regarding security deposit refund.


Lease-up/Tenant fill?
The Owner signs the agreement as they will be managing their own property.

Security Deposit and pets?
It is standard practice to add to a Security Deposit for pets. Only dogs that are not on the CDC list of aggressive animals are allowed, although small dogs bite more often, bigger dogs do more damage. All Owners have the right to not allow pets but a large number of renters do have pets. Estey offers a Preferred Pets Program that allows an inspection of the property over several months. It is paid by the tenant. It is also suggested that the tenant have renters insurance. Pet rent may be added on an individual pet basis, normally $25.00 per month. 

Security deposit, what happens when the tenant moves out?
Estey handles all the normal repairs and maintenance that is needed to prepare the property for the next tenant. If the tenants have property damage to the unit, Estey has the vendor bill separately so that Estey can comply with the California state laws regarding what is normal wear and tear and what is tenant damage. Tenants are to get copies of any invoices to verify the deduction from the security deposit. 


State compliance of the handling the Security Deposit refund is done in an efficient manner, 21 days from the end of the lease, and/or 30 day notice or once the keys have been returned and the tenant no longer has possession of the residence. 


The Security Deposit?
The security deposit is regulated by the State of California. 


The law states: maximum for an unfurnished unit is 2 times the rent; for a furnished unit, 3 times the rent. Security deposits can be less than one month's rent, but it is not advised. Normal security deposits at higher than the monthly rental amount and may be increased due to credit issues of the applicant but never higher than the law allows.


What about the invoices for maintenance done?
All invoices are scanned to your online statement which you access through a secure website and password protected. 


If the service, such as gardener is a monthly standard price, it is not scanned but will be listed on your monthly statement. 


What happens with a maintenance emergency?
Estey is on call 24 hours a day. During business hours, a vendor is sent out immediately. If after hours, calls go to our 24 hour answering service. After assessing the emergency, action is immediately or in the morning when vendors are open. If it can be delayed with no damage to your property, it is best to have vendors work during regular hours. 

What happens with damage caused by the tenant?
Damage to the unit must be documented and proven that the tenant caused the damage. If it is, costs of repair/replacement may be held from the Security Deposit. However, if it carpeting or other capital improvements to the property, there may be pro-rated amount that can be deduced, even it was in good condition, it goes by age of the item. 


It is prohibited, by contract, for the tenant to use the security deposit as last month's rent but it does happen once in a while or the tenant has prorated days that they owe you, these charges can be subtract from the Security Deposit, just one reason to have the security deposit higher than the rent. Tenants that have vacated may challenge funds retained for damages from the security deposit, but Estey documents move-out condition of the property. 


What if the tenant pays the rent late?
All rents are due on the first day of each month and late after the 3rd of the month. Often the tenant will call Estey to say they are going to be late and state when a payment can be expected. If the rent is to be received after the normal date of transferring rental proceeds to the Owner (15th of the month) or as mandated by the DRE, you will be notified so that you can take the necessary action with your accounting. Estey will give the tenant a courtesy call on the 4th, however they are still late. The late fee is held by Estey Real Estate for the extra work that the tenant is causing in administration of the issue so that the cost is not transferred to you. If the tenant does not respond by paying rent, the late fee, a 3 day notice to pay rent or vacate is served. We hold the option of continue to eviction or accepting the payment. 

What insurance liabilities do I have with investment property and how can I protect myself?
Owners of any property could be held liable for known and some unknown conditions at their properties, investment or occupied. You must carry the normal fire/liability insurance policy to cover your investment property adequately. Discuss with your insurance needs with your company and listen to them about the amounts and recommended limits for you. Our management agreement has an indemnity clause that places basic liability for all acts on the owner which is a standard property management clause. Your Insurance company should add Estey Real Estate and Property Management, the property manager as either additional insured or name the manager as an interested party to the policy at no extra cost. This addition will protect us both in the unlikely event of a lawsuit. Some companies will not do list property managers are additional insured or interested party, when this occurs, you may change companies or accept the liability personally. 

What is a Section 8 Housing Voucher?
The Housing Authority of Santa Cruz County provides Housing Vouchers to low income people (working poor, seniors, and disabled) who qualify. The program is funded by the government. The program subsidizes the tenant's rent. The Housing Authority decides what the reimbursable amount will be and the tenant pays the difference. For example, your 2/1 in Watsonville rents for $1100 a month. The county will pay $600 and the tenant will pay $500 (this is only an example actual amounts are determined by the HA). The Housing Authority will inspect the residence prior to occupancy and will do an annual inspection for health and safety issues. 

What is the contingent reserve fund?
All owner accounts are required to maintain a contingent reserve fund. This account, held in your account within the trust account, is to cover any charges that might be incurred when rents do not cover the cost of maintenance. The amount is normally $500.00 but can be more depending on the age and maintenance of the property and what services the owner’s requests. 

What is the current law regarding giving 30/60/90 notices?
Currently, the law is back to giving a 30 day notice if tenant has been in property less than one year and 60 day notice if more than one year effective January 1, 2007. 90 day notices are still required if your tenant has a Section 8 Housing Voucher. 

What is the Eviction Protection Plan?
A benefit offered to Estey managed properties as our way of proving that we pick good residents and that we will back that claim up with protection for you. Evictions normally cost is excess of $1000.00. Ask our property investment manager about this option. 

What other inspections can be done?
Estey can order any inspection you wish on the property from roof, termite and whole house inspections. 


Estey does have seasonally maintenance inspections for safety on fireplaces and furnaces. Fall gutter cleaning is also a standard item. 


We suggest you have a "termite inspection" performed at least every two years to check for dry rot, leaks under the house or in the attic, and for infestations but you must request these additional inspections. 


What services are offered through Estey Real Estate?
Estey is a full service real estate brokerage: real estate sales, listings, 1031 exchange and property management. 


All agents are licensed by the State of California, Department of Real Estate. 


However, we did not stop with the simple Real Estate license, it is expected agents and staff stay informed with current trends, legal updates, industry and fair housing knowledge. Additional education thorough advanced designations such as Graduate of Institute of Real Estate (GRI), (similar to master’s degree in real estate) and National Association of REALTOR®s, Residential Management Professional (RMP) and Master Property Manager (MPM) from the National Association of Residential Property Managers and an Seniors Real Estate Specialist (SRES) assure clients they are working with expects in the field. Continuing classes yearly keep us informed on industry changes and needs. 


Estey offers several advertising options:
Signs: yellow and black property signs for eye catching appeal.
Plus: our added "Get Info Now" rider exclusive to Estey. Prospects driving by the unit can text the number and get information on your property NOW.
Website: is listed as a favorite by many prospects so that they can keep track of our listings. Estey listings are transferred to over 70 website search engines, giving your property more market exposure.
Local paper although 85% of our clients find us on the internet. This extra advertising cost depends on the local paper of the area.
$1,000,000.00 window right on the corner of First and J Street. Estey has a dedicated window to our clients’ properties. As the best corner in the city, it draws many, many people looking for a new place to live.


When the vendor completed the work requested do we inspect the property?
Estey inspects on a case by case basis as we have trust vendors. If work is done on the outside of the home, we will drive by to check the completion. If the unit is occupied, the tenant is call to make sure that the work is done, not return trips are needed and that our vendor has again left the property clean and the workmen were courteous. 


When a maintenance request is received, the vendor is selected and a work order is email to the vendor. If the repair has more issues than first expected, the vendor calls before going over the contract amount. If the items are not worth repairing due to age or parts available, you are sent an email or called to review the issue and item. Always remember that if the items worked when the tenant rented the property and is not left as a courtesy, such as washer and dryer, the item must be repaired or replaced. The cost of use of these items is paid with the rent and cannot just be left broken. The tenant must notify Estey if an item has failed or fails again after repair. 


We use licensed and insured vendors who we trust for professional opinions and work, the experts in their field. As property managers we have working knowledge of repairs but we are not experts. 


Where does the Security Deposit get deposited?
Estey Real Estate and Property Management holds the deposit in a trust account as it belongs to the tenant. Often, tenants feel more secure with the management company holding the funds due to current economic treads of foreclosure and owners not having the funds when they vacate. 

Who does the repairs?
Estey uses only licensed, insured trusted vendors. All the licenses are checked with the state contractor board, bonds, insurance and references are requested. If an owner wants to handle the repairs, we can't guarantee the work. The owner will have to work directly with the vendor from start to finish. Estey will not nor take the risk of a potential lawsuit. 

Who signs the lease or rental agreement?
Full-management: The Property manager acts on the owners behalf as their agent and signs the agreement. The owner and manager work together as one. 

Who will choose the tenant?
Estey Real Estate has over 32 years of qualifying the best tenants for thousands of owners. Estey complies with the strictly monitored, Federal Fair Housing guidelines. 


Estey will select the tenant based on the most qualified applicant. 


Caution: If an owner suggests the Federal Fair Housing laws not be followed, we will help them to understand the laws. If the Owner will not abide by the Federal Laws, it may mean a long and lengthy battle, with the Owner losing, and with the Federal Government assessing extremely high fines. Estey will not manage or cooperate with the violating property Owner. This is a huge issue and is fully funded by the Federal Government, violation of these laws are very serious. 


Why use Estey rather than someone else?
Hopefully, after reading these questions and answers, you will see that Estey offers value. The services offered far exceed most companies. Keeping your property rents is very important. Keeping you informed is important. Keeping your tenant happy is important, as a happy tenant takes better care of your property. WE know what works and have placed thousands of people in homes and would love to help you with your real estate needs. We offer stability, knowledge, integrity and service. Hopefully you can see that HomePointe is a great value for you and your property. 


We are an industry leader in technology making us convenient for renters and owners alike. We are also totally dedicated to professional property management. We are totally dedicated to your real estate needs, sales and management. 


If you have used our Placement Service then you will be given the original lease to keep for your files and we keep copies of the lease and the original application materials


Yearly inspections done?
Estey offers (for a minimal fee) a once a year Preventative Maintenance Inspection conducted by a licensed contractor. Also, upon the request of the tenant, receipt of a complaint, vendor heads-up, continued maintenance requests/problems, and always upon a 30 day notice to vacate, prior to move-in, and at move-out. 

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Benicia Property Management | Benicia Homes for Rent

Estey Real Estate
& Property Management

216 First Street
Benicia, CA 94510

Office Phone: 707.745.0924
Fax: 707-745-0926
M-F 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM

BRE #00674738

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