Child-care offered at a residence in a familiar neighborhood can be a source of great comfort to working moms and dads. For working parents, finding good child-care is invaluable.
But if you rent your home or apartment, can you still be a day-care provider? The short answer: Yes.
The right for renters to operate such a vital service is state law, spelled out in the California Health & Safety Code. Small family day-care facilities are not considered a “business use of property,” and so they would be protected under any leases or rental agreements that prohibit operating a business out of a rental home.
Renters who wish to open a family day-care in their home should have little to no conflict if they meet certain conditions, follow clear rules, and communicate the details with their landlord or property manager. This applies to rental homes of any kind: apartments, townhomes, condominiums and single-family residences.
First, a child-care provider must be licensed by the state Department of Social Services. Once a tenant is licensed to provide family child-care, he or she must give the landlord or property owner 30 days’ written notice of the intent to begin operating the day-care service in the rental home. The license will include the number of children that the provider is allowed to care for. The state license application includes a notice form for landlord notification, which is helpful.
That form also explains the renter’s right to operate a family day-care. Landlords or property managers cannot discriminate against a tenant for operating a day-care. However, landlords do have the option of requiring a higher security deposit, but the deposit cannot exceed the maximum allowable under state law.
Next, proof of liability insurance – or waivers signed by parents – must be shared with landlords. Operators of in-home day-care are required to fulfill one of three options when it comes to insurance: obtain liability insurance; secure a bond of $300,000; or, if they choose not to secure the insurance or bond, they must inform each parent of that decision and obtain affidavits acknowledging that the parents are aware of the lack of insurance or bond.
Then, be a good neighbor. The same rules that apply to other residents also apply to child-care providers. For example, control excessive noise that might be disruptive for other tenants, and be mindful of activities or behavior that could damage the property.
Finally, emphasize the benefits of having a family home day-care in your neighborhood or apartment community. Having a day-care provider as a neighbor likely means that you have an extra set of eyes on your community. A person who’s been hired to care for young children likely will be vigilant about ensuring safe, clean surroundings. Think of it as an extra neighborhood watch.
The California Department of Social Services has a guide for family child care and tenant rights.