Guide to Resident Management Laws in California – Manukyan Law Firm
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Guide to Resident Management Laws in California

Guide to Resident Management Laws in California

A resident manager is an individual responsible for managing an apartment complex or residential community. This is a unique position in the workforce due to the special hour requirements and pay, which can include rent compensation in place of a portion of their wages.

As a resident manager, you’re protected by state-level laws and regulations that ensure you’re paid fairly by your employer. Learn your entitlements under California’s wage protection laws and how to file a wage and hour complaint with the help of an employment lawyer if your employer violates your rights.

What are the New Resident Management Laws in California?

California has recently enacted new resident management laws that govern which apartment communities require a manager, minimum wage requirements, and other rules, such as payment options. The updated requirements are as follows:

  • Manager requirements. Since January 1, 2023, all apartment complexes and residential communities of at least 16 units in California require an on-site manager. The manager must live on-site and may be the owner or an appointed manager, janitor, housekeeper, or similar responsible person. This requirement is similar to ordinances and local legislation already in effect in select California cities, such as the Los Angeles Rent Stabilization Ordinance (RSO).
  • Minimum wage adjustments. Effective January 1, 2024, the minimum wage in California is $16 per hour. Owners must update resident manager contracts accordingly as needed. Certain jurisdictions may impose higher local or municipal minimum wage requirements. Examples include the City of Los Angeles ($16.78), Santa Monica ($16.90), and San Diego ($16.85).
  • New paid sick leave. Effective January 1, 2024, California requires all employers to provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick leave (PSL). The manager must have worked for the same owner for at least 30 days in a year and have worked for 90 days before taking PSL.

Common Wage Violations Against Resident Managers

Most resident managers live on-site, making it challenging to distinguish between worked hours and personal time. They are also frequently required to be available or on-call 24/7 to respond to emergencies.

Employers failing to keep track of worked hours, calculate compensation, or classify worked hours correctly may commit wage violations against resident managers. Specific examples include:

  • Failure to pay worked hours. All employers must compensate resident managers according to the state and local minimum wage laws. Violations include failing to update the hourly rate to the legal minimum and not accurately tracking all hours worked.
  • Improper use of rent credit. Since Von Nothdurft v. Steck (2014), property owners are legally allowed to pay resident managers with a rent credit, a discount for their on-site living quarters. However, owners may only compensate managers with rent credit if the manager has signed a written contract explicitly outlining it. Additionally, it must comply with California’s rent credit cap, which is equal to $903.60/month or two-thirds of the apartment’s typical rent, whichever is lower.
  • Failure to calculate and pay overtime. While residential managers have complex work requirements that can make quantifying workloads challenging, it is the owner’s responsibility to classify worked hours correctly. Owners may not classify a residential manager as exempt from overtime unless they meet the exemption criteria outlined in the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). This applies even if the manager receives rent credits.
  • Misclassifying the resident manager. Owners may not classify employee resident managers as independent contractors. This classification is reserved for independent contractors hired to perform the duties of a resident manager. Misclassifications can result in missed overtime pay due to the legal differences between employee and contractor payment structures.
  • Inaccurate record-keeping. The owner is responsible for maintaining accurate records of all hours worked, wages paid, breaks given, and PSL taken. They must provide resident managers with tools to track and report their worked hours, including pay stubs and itemized deductions.

What are Your Rights?

If you are a resident manager employed by a California property owner, your rights are outlined by the state’s housing and employment laws. Under California legislation, you are entitled to the following rights:

  • Right to fair compensation. You are entitled to be paid at least the minimum wage that applies in your jurisdiction for all hours worked, including overtime pay. You also have the right to accurate record-keeping, ensuring you fully understand how many hours you worked, what deductions apply, and how much overtime you earned.
  • Right to safe and habitable housing. Living on-site is one of your work requirements; this means you are entitled to a safe and habitable housing unit.
  • Right to breaks and rest periods. You have the right to take uninterrupted meal breaks and rest periods in accordance with state legislation.
  • Freedom from retaliation. You have the right to file complaints and report unlawful behavior without fear of discrimination or retaliation from your employer, such as eviction.

If you need to file a complaint or report an issue to the state authorities, you can take the following legal actions depending on the nature of your case:

How to File a Wage Violation Complaint in California

If you feel your employer has not compensated you fairly for your work as a resident manager, your first legal step may be to file a wage violation complaint. Take the following steps to protect your rights:

  • Collect evidence of a wage violation. Gather all documentation relevant to your case, such as your pay stubs, copies of your time records, and your employment contract. Document all communications with your employer regarding wages and payment. Write a detailed account explaining the nature of the wage violations and what actions you’ve already taken to try to resolve the issue.
  • Contact the correct authorities. In California, the Labor Commissioner’s Office handles most wage violation claims. If your case involves retaliation from your employer, you may also contact the CRD to report a violation of your civil rights.
  • Fill out the right forms. Visit the Office’s website and click “File Wage or Garment Claim Online” to start the online filing process. In most wage claim cases, you may need to file an Initial Report of Claim form. Submit the completed form online or mail it to your local Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) office.
  • Follow the DLSE’s instructions. Once the DLSE has reviewed your claim, the agency may schedule an interview or a conference to discuss the case’s details. You may be given options to resolve the issue with your employer, such as mediation or settlement offers.
  • Seek legal advice. Contact a wage and hour employment lawyer to explore additional legal options. An attorney can help you understand your rights, gather evidence, file a complaint, or initiate a wage and hour claim lawsuit seeking compensation.

Protect Your Rights as a Resident Manager

The legal landscape surrounding resident management changes frequently. Understanding labor and housing laws in California is necessary to protect your rights and ensure you receive fair treatment and just compensation for your onsite work.

While the line between work and personal life is often blurred, you remain entitled to fair compensation, safe housing, and other legal protections. If your employer violates your rights as an employee, you may report the violations to the proper authorities and seek legal advice from an experienced labor law attorney.

FAQs:

What are the legal requirements for on-site managers of residential property in California?

In California, a residential property manager is required by law to live on-site if the property is 16 units or more and the owner or landlord doesn’t already live on the premises. The manager must be available or on-call 24/7 to handle regular operations, tenant relations management, and other administrative tasks.

What is the difference between a site manager and a property manager?

Property managers or onsite managers are professionals responsible for managing residential properties, including leasing, maintenance, and tenant relations. Site managers oversee the construction and maintenance of properties, focusing on project execution and compliance with building standards.

California’s resident management laws typically apply to property managers, while site managers’ duties are regulated by safety and construction regulations.

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