Los Angeles Massage School’s Approval to Operate Revoked

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SACRAMENTO- The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (Bureau) has revoked the approval to operate issued to Hans Academy of Massage located in Los Angeles.

Read the entire news release here.

Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education to Assist Four-D College Students

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SACRAMENTO – Staff from the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education will be in Riverside and Apple Valley on Friday July 17 to advise students of Four-D College’s Colton and Victorville locations about their options in the wake of the school’s apparent closure.

Read the news release here.

How to Save Water While Caring For Your Lawn

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A quick look at the low water levels of any local river, lake or stream reminds us that California is in a drought. You don’t have to go further than your not-so-green front lawn to be reminded.

Here are a few tips to help you do your part in using less water while maintaining your lawn.

  • Water early in the morning or later in the evening when temperatures are cooler.
  • Check your sprinkler system frequently and adjust sprinklers so only your lawn is watered and not the house, sidewalk, or street.
  • Choose a water-efficient irrigation system such a drip irrigation for your trees, shrubs, and flowers.
  • Water deeply but less frequently to create healthier and stronger landscapes.
  • Put a layer of mulch around trees and plants to reduce evaporation and keep the soil cool. Organic mulch also improves the soil and prevents weeds.
  • Plant drought-resistant trees and plants.

For more information, visit Save Our Water.

Prepaid Rental Listing Service…or Prepaid Rental Listing Scam?

shutterstock_164228687Searching for a rental home or apartment can be a daunting and time-consuming task. So to save time and energy, you decide to have a company take care of the search for you. You do some quick online research, and then tell the prepaid rental listing service (PRLS) company representative what you are looking for in a rental, pay them a fee for a list of rentals matching your criteria, and find that dream rental in no time.

Sounds easy enough. The problem? There is more to the PRLS business than meets the eye, and scams are common. To avoid getting scammed and to get in the door of the rental you’ve been looking for, consumer education is the key.

Watch for red flags
Unfortunately, not all PRLS businesses are on the up and up. Here are some common problems and scams to be aware of:
✔Unlicensed companies
✔False advertising
✔Lists of rentals that are not available as advertised
✔Lists contain properties that are not for rent or do not exist
✔Lists do not meet a consumer’s requested specifications
✔Failure to provide refunds

Before handing your money over to a PRLS company, it’s best to understand whom and what you’re dealing with. A PRLS provides prospective tenants with listings of residential real property for tenancy while collecting a fee at the same time or in advance of when the listings are supplied. In order to legally conduct business in California as a PRLS, the company must be licensed by DCA’s California Bureau of Real Estate (CalBRE). Always check the license to verify the company you’re dealing with is in good standing. If the company is not licensed, do not conduct business with them!

Look before you sign
Before any PRLS company accepts a fee for rental listings, it must provide you a written contract that includes detailed information, including:
✔The amount of the service fee
✔A description of the services to be performed in exchange for the fee
✔Specifications for the rental unit that you want the service to find for you
✔The expiration date of the contract, which is no more than 90 days from the date it is signed
✔The small claims court remedy available should any issues arise

If you have a problem with a PRLS company, you may not be able to recover all of your money or time, but you do have rights and should fully understand them. Keep in mind it is always good consumer practice to do research before conducting business with any company. Ask friends and family you trust for recommendations of companies they have had good experiences with. It is also a good idea to research the company online and check with the Better Business Bureau.

Refunds
You are entitled to a full refund if you have not received within five days of signing the contract three available rental listings that meet the property specifications listed on the contract. You are entitled to all fees you paid, minus $50, if the service does not locate a rental for you or if you find housing on your own within the timeframe of the PRLS contract. You will have to provide documentation in order to receive a refund. If the service failed to locate a rental property for you, you will need to provide documentation proving that you have not moved and still reside at the same address. If you found a rental on your own (without the assistance of the PRLS), you will need to provide documentation of your new address. If documentation cannot be provided, a statement of the facts should be prepared and submitted to the PRLS company. If the PRLS company does not issue a refund, a court of law can award you the refund, plus additional damages, up to $1,000 (Business and Professions Code section 10167.95). The quickest way to obtain a judgment in these cases is through small claims court.

The mission of CalBRE is to safeguard and promote the public interests in real estate matters through licensure, regulation, education, and enforcement. To check a license, file a complaint, report unlicensed activity, or for more information about PRLS, visit http://www.calbre.ca.gov or call (877) 373-4542.

Additional Resources
Prepaid Rental Listing Service Information

Prepaid Rental Listing Service Consumer Alert

List of unlicensed PRLS companies that have been issued orders to desist and refrain from engaging in further prepaid rental listing service activities

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Hiring a Pest Control Company to Combat Bug Infestations

shutterstock_246709621Yet another issue concerning the drought—an increase of household pests. The lack of rainfall is causing bugs such as ants, spiders, and cockroaches to come indoors in search of water. In addition, the past winter, which had fewer days than normal of freezing temperatures, didn’t do its typical seasonal job of killing pests’ eggs.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs’ Structural Pest Control Board (Board), many household pests are easily controlled: “Good housekeeping and thorough sanitation are important as aids to control or prevent infestations of many pests.”

However, if your home’s pest infestation gets out of control, you may want to seek help from a professional pest control operator. Prior to hiring a company, make sure you’ve done your homework. Be aware that any company that controls mice, rats, pigeons, spiders, ants, roaches, and other household pests must be registered with the Board. Also, the operator who applies the pesticide must be licensed, so ask to see proof of licensure. You can also confirm a company’s registration or a license by contacting the Board’s Licensing Unit at (916) 561-8704 or doing a license search on the Board’s website, www.pestboard.ca.gov.

For more information about pest control and finding a qualified and licensed pest control operator, visit the Board’s website at www.pestboard.ca.gov.

Do Your Part During Wildfire Season

shutterstock_209851783As the heart of wildfire season approaches, state fire agencies are asking for the public’s help to prevent wildfires—95 percent of which in California are caused by human activity, according to Cal Fire.

As part of the One Less Spark—One Less Wildfire campaign, Cal Fire highlights four major areas of concern that can cause a wildfire:

Using outdoor equipment. Lawn mowers, chainsaws, grinders, welders, tractors, and weed-eaters can all spark a wildland fire. Mow before 10 a.m. when it’s coolest but never when it’s windy or excessively dry. Metal blades striking rocks can create sparks and start fires. In wildland areas, spark arresters are required on all portable gas-powered equipment.

Grinding and welding operations in wildland areas require a permit and 10 feet of clearance. Don’t drive a vehicle onto dry grass or brush—hot exhaust pipes and mufflers can start fires. Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher nearby.

Debris burning. First, obtain any burn permits that may be required and be sure burning isn’t currently restricted in your area.

Landscape debris piles must be in small 4-foot by 4-foot piles. Clear all flammable material and vegetation within 10 feet of the pile’s outer edge, and keep a water supply and shovel nearby. An adult is required by law to be in attendance until the fire is out. No burning should be done in unsafe conditions, particularly if it’s windy and surrounding vegetation is very dry.

Campfires. Be sure to have any necessary permits for a campfire, and check on any local fire restrictions in the area. Select an open, flat location for the campfire and be sure there are no heavy fuels (logs), brush, leaves, or needles within 10 feet of the fire ring.

Never leave a campfire unattended and keep a shovel and bucket of water on hand. Never leave children around a fire unattended.

To completely extinguish a campfire, Cal Fire recommends the “drown, stir, and feel” method. Drown the fire with water, then stir around the fire pit coals with a shovel to be sure remaining embers are out. Smother the ashes with dirt and, finally, feel the area with the back of your hand to ensure nothing is smoldering.

Vehicle and towing safety. To practice safe towing, secure any chains that could possibly drag and throw sparks. Use appropriate safety pins and hitch ball to secure chains. Be sure your vehicle is properly maintained, and that there are no dragging parts that could cause a spark. Make sure your brakes are in good working order—brakes worn too thin can cause metal-to-metal contact, which may cause a spark.

For additional information on wildfire prevention and safety, visit Cal Fire’s website, www.calfire.ca.gov, and the agency’s accompanying site, www.readyforwildfire.org.