Written: March 2009 – Last Updated: May 2016
Under California law, ALL single family residences, including rental apartments and condominiums, can be used as a day care facility because such is NOT considered a “business use of the property.” California Health & Safety Code § Section 1597.43(a). This right cannot be restricted by a condominium HOA or a landlord. In fact, any lease provision prohibiting the operation of a day care facility is void as against public policy, but that does not mean the landlord doesn’t have any rights.
A residential landlord who learns that a tenant is operating a family day care facility in their rental unit is permitted to require the tenant to pay an increased security deposit, but the requested security deposit still cannot exceed the maximum permitted by existing law (2 month’s rent).
The landlord may also request proof that the operation is properly licensed. To operate a family day care facility out of a rental unit the tenant must inform the landlord of his or her intent to do so and acquire a license from the California Department of Social Services, who as a condition of issuing the permit will inspect the premises for code compliance and require the day care operator to receive 15 hours of training. Once approved, the operator will be permitted to provide day care for up to 6 children under age 10, and if the owner consents an additional 2 school aged children.
A day care facility operator must also either: (1) carry general liability insurance of $100,000 per occurrence and $300,000 aggregate; or (2) inform and have each parent acknowledge in writing that the day care facility is not insured, and that any liability insurance held by the landlord may not cover any claims or losses relating to the operation of the family day care facility. However, if the landlord otherwise requires each of its residents to carry renter’s insurance, that requirement will still apply to the rental unit within which a family day care services are provided.
A family day care service provider operating out of a rental unit should also be aware that a landlord and the adjacent residents are not required to tolerate excessive noise that disrupts the peaceful and quiet enjoyment of the other tenants, or other conduct that causes excessive damage to the property. Day care service providers should inform parents to be respectful of the neighbors when dropping off and picking up their children and should plan relatively quiet activities that respect the needs of the other tenants (coloring, painting, home work help, etc.). Landlords, on the other hand, should exercise caution before sending a written warning and/or notice of eviction as such may be deemed to be a discriminatory act. Landlords would be wise to inform their other tenants to document the disturbance and send a written complaint letter so the landlord will have evidence to substantiate his actions.
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