Are you trying to get ahold of your landlord to request a repair but don’t know who they are?  Are you suing your landlord in small claims court and need your current or, more likely, former landlord’s address?  Sometimes, California tenants may not possess their landlord’s complete contact information.  Worry not.  Several methods exist to identify, locate, and contact a California landlord.  Continue reading this article to learn how to locate California landlord contact information.

Uncovering the California Landlord’s Identity

Usually, California tenants know their landlord’s name.  This is because they’ve either met them when applying for the unit, signing the lease, or obtaining the key.  And, even if they haven’t, the landlord’s name is typically on the written.

But, not every California tenant has a written lease.  And, those that do may not contain the landlord’s name and signature.  Some landlords have property managers and leasing agents execute the lease, preferring to remain anonymous in an effort to limit their liability.  Where this happens, California tenants have several tools at their disposal to uncover their landlord’s identity.

Internet Search & Publicly Accessible Real Estate Platforms

The easiest method is to perform an internet search of the building address.  This may yield beneficial results.  Additionally, depending on the county in which the property is located, certain real estate websites, such as Zillow and Trulia, may make recent real estate transfer information public information.  However, information varies on free sources such as these. In addition, not every property will have publicly available information for free.

Obtain the Deed from the County Recorder

If the tenant cannot locate the information after a quick web search, a quick call, fax, email, or website visit to the county recorder’s office where the property is located may be successful.  The county recorder maintains public records and documents, including deeds.  Additionally, this agency maintains records relating to real estate ownership.

Every county recorder’s office is unique.  Some may offer information online, others may require an in-person visit, and some may conduct business via email.  Further, some may provide information, including deeds, at no costs, while others may charge a nominal fee.  Keep in mind that – where a fee is required – a quick call to the recorder’s office may bear fruit without any cost.  Sometimes, the phone associate can provide information at no charge where no deed is produced.

California tenants seeking their landlord’s identity should contact their local county recorder’s office.

Paid Database Search to Locate California Landlord

Several paid databases exist that can provide the landlord’s information, for a price.  For a small fee, websites like PropertyShark and Reonomy will provide the property owner’s name.  However, in the event the property is owned by an entity, such as a corporation or an LLC, the California tenant will have to identify the name of any persons associated with the identity.  For business entities, the California Tenant can pull the deed (see above) or search using the California Secretary of State’s business search tool.  For other types of entities, such as private trusts, the California Tenant will have to pull the deed.  Most deeds contain a mailing address.  Additionally, the deed may contain additional information pertaining to individuals associated with the trust.

Other Methods to Locate California Landlord

California tenants seeking their landlord’s identity have several other options to uncover it:

  • Ask the landlord’s agents, including the property manager, leasing agent, or repair person. Usually, sharing the landlord’s identity is not an issue.  Where these people are unwilling to do so, California tenants should consider obtaining a written denial, which is to be saved for later use;
  • Ask other building tenants and neighbors. Longtime neighborhood residents may know the landlord’s identity and be willing to share;
  • Search for prior complaints at various government agencies, including but not limited to rent boards, fair housing agencies, and code enforcement. Files from prior complaints may reveal the landlord’s identity;
  • Contact a local title company. California tenants seeking their landlord’s information can contact a representative at a local title company and obtain a FARM list for the property.  This document will have everything the California tenant needs to get ahold of the landlord.

Finding the Landlord’s Phone Number or Email Address

California tenants seeking to contact their landlord by phone or email have several ways to retrieve the number or email address.  Often, phone numbers are included in title company’s FARM list for the property.  Additionally, prior complaints with government agencies may contain the landlord’s phone number or email address.  Finally, if any exist, the California tenant’s neighbors, or the property manager or repair person may have the phone number or email address.

After obtaining the landlord’s name, the California tenant may search online on free-use sites like White Pages or Facebook to try and find the phone number and email address.  If the California tenant can locate their landlord on social media, they may uncover their personal information.  For example, Facebook users sometimes forget to make their email address private, and it remains publicly available on Facebook’s “About Me” section.

Alternatively, some paid databases may provide the requested information, for a small fee.  Finally, the California Tenant can always retain the services of a private investigator to perform a skip trace to locate potential phone numbers and email addresses.  Please be advised that this is an expensive option that can cost more than $75 per trace.

Finding the Landlord’s Address

As stated above, the landlord’s address may be on the property’s most recent deed.  Most deeds contain a mailing address.  The California tenant may attempt to reach their landlord via the address listed on the deed.  Alternatively, the California tenant can ask neighbors, the property manager, or a repair person.  The California tenant also can obtain a FARM list from a local title company.  Further, the California tenant may consider hiring a private investigator to perform a skip trace to locate the property owner’s address.

Additionally, the California Tenant should consider going to their local library or local law library.  The local library may have a database to conduct a property search.  The law library may have access to paid databases, such as Lexis, containing a public records search tool.  Using this tool, the California tenant may locate their landlord for no cost.

Please keep in mind that sometimes the information on official sources, such as a deed or government complaint, may not be correct.  Therefore, California tenants should get creative, refine searches, and perform multiple searches.  With persistence, they will likely find the information they seek.