The Marin Rental House and Back to Basics Landlording 101

by Christopher Barrow 20. February 2010 03:38

When should a person ever stop learning?  You all know the answer to that: never. 

But you should especially never stop learning when there are fair housing laws at stake! 

That said, my team and I are always brushing up on our skills to keep moving all these Marin rental homes.  We attend the San Francisco PPMA (Property Managers Association) and SFAA (San Franciso Apartment Association) meetings.  We belong to MPAA (Mairn Property Owner Association).  We take "Landlord 101" classes in our free time.  We read the local MLS rules and regulations.  We chat with our attounry on a regular basis.  We're constantly reviewing and revising our documents and company procedures.  And we never stop asking questions.

But this week, we're really going back to basics and purchasing a few Amazon Landlord/Tenant books meant for beginners.  Yes, you read that correctly...beginners.  I've been in this business about 5 years now, and in that time have rented hundreds of properties.  I've fielded thousands of phones calls and seen thousands of houses.  Yet, sometimes, I feel it's important to take down the barriers - in this case, already learned knowledge - and just get back to basics.  So we're ordering a few books online as if we were brand new landlords looking for info to get started renting a property in Marin.

In trying to decide which books we want to purchase I came across a couple reviews, one of them talking about the use of a rental broker to rent your house.  Obviously, we couldn't agree more:

I would personally recommend that every landlord use a Broker. I see so many landlords that insist on coming in for the showing, and they either like the potential tenant and get over eager, or just say something that scares them off. Using a broker who is calm and will just show them around without emotional attachment is really your best bet. Many times I've heard someone say "I really like the apartment, but the landlord makes me nervous".

If not to find the tenants, a Broker can help you do and provide the proper paperwork. For a small fee, they'll do background checks, credit reports and write the lease for you. A good Broker knows red flags and don't rely on how they "feel" about the applicant. They go on fact. Spending the...bucks is going to be cheaper in the long run then breaking a fair housing law and getting sued for thousands. Or having to pay triple damages when you mishandle their security deposit.

Don't rely on other landlords for "oh, this is the lease I use" or "the addendum I like". Many landlords these days try to include unenforceable clauses. Do you really want to tell the judge "my landlord friend told me it was ok!".

-A.Boston, Amazon Reviewer out of MS

So true, my friends, so true.  While obviously it is in my interest as a Marin leasing agent to support the idea of landlords using brokers, it's funny to see an agent across the country has the exact same experience we do here in Marin.  Some things I guess are just universal.

So, wish us here at the Marin Leasing Team happy reading as we take landlording back to basics!   We'll post our own reviews here in the following weeks. 

And happy Ski Week everyone!


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About the author

Born in San Francisco and raised in Marin, broker Christopher Barrow comes from an educational background in communications, with previous work experience in sales and client management.  Together with partner/wife, Darcy Alkus Barrow, the two run Foundation Rentals and Relocation servicing all of Marin County's rental property needs.

Even as the owner of the company, Christopher works every end of the Marin rental spectrum from one bedroom apartments for $1,000 to high-end, executive-style rentals renting anywhere from $8,000 to $15,000+ a month.  A working relationship with Christopher brings round the clock dedication and true client focus.  

When not working--which is rare if you ask his friends and family--Christopher spends his time at the Bay Club in Corte Madera, or at home in San Rafael with his wife and their two dogs and cat, enjoying all the great outdoor life Marin has to offer.

Contact Christopher anytime at

CA DRE Lic# 01722834

Areas served include: Sausalito rentals, CA, USA - Mill Valley rentals, CA, USA - Tiburon rentals, CA, USA - Belvedere rentals, CA, USA - Corte Madera rentals, CA, USA - Larkspur rentals, CA, USA - Greenbrae rentals, CA 94904, USA - Kentfield rentals, CA, USA - Ross rentals, CA, USA - San Anselmo rentals, CA, USA - San Rafael rentals, CA, USA - Novato rentals, CA, USA - San Francisco rentals, CA, USA‎ Rentals


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