Legal Tips for Landlords

Consider Legal Tips for Smoother Business

There are enough pitfalls in working as a landlord that you should begin your work armed with as much information as possible.  For example, know that there will be legal battles involved (most likely) and that you’ll find yourself in the middle of them.  Whether a rent dispute erupts or a tenant causes trouble within your building, prepare yourself for the worst by learning the game ahead of time.  Some poignant legal tips can save you a lot of time and money down the road, and if nothing ends up happening throughout you’re career, at least you were ready just in case!

Legal protection for yourself and your property is a must in this business.  One of the seemingly simplest, but often-overlooked ways to do this is to make sure that every agreement and decision is made in writing.  If you make a promise to your renter, mark it down for both parties.  If they do the same, definitely make sure you’ve got their signature on it.  It’s too easy for people to revoke verbal agreements or to deny them outright and you hardly want to be on the other end of “he said, she said” argument where they won’t be much that you can do.  To prevent this from happening, keep organized and clearly-defined records of such arrangements as lease agreements, which protect “you and gives you legal rights that would be more difficult to prove without documentation.”  If it’s written down, then it can be easily referenced as needed if a disagreement arises (and they almost always do).

Legal Tips for Landlords

A second step would be to gather a security deposit for each new resident, which demonstrates your investment in not only the people on the property, but in the state of the property itself.  This is a key business strategy as it encourages your renters to be careful within their units and suggests to them that you are a landlord who will attend to issues in the building in a timely manner.  More importantly, perhaps, is that it provides extra funds in case your renters don’t care as much about upkeep as you and, as a result, you need to pay for cleaning, replacements, or repairs.  Covering these damages can be unpleasant, but the security deposit at least helps you to lessen the blow of these incidences.  Before they even fully move in, consider going through the unit together and having the tenant note any damages beforehand so that you know for certain which were present earlier and which were caused by that person later on.

Before accepting any renters onto your property, it’s your responsibility to do a thorough background check and to look into their financial situation as best you can.  If you are negligent in this process, it could end up being (at least partially) your responsibility when there is a money-related dispute later on.  Compile all the information you can throughout the process and keep it organized in case you need to reference it at a later time.  “Next, take the time to verify their good credit and their employment, which will help you determine their ability to pay the rent.”  Obviously, this is all crucial not only to avoiding legal troubles but to your being paid and maintaining business in a smooth and effective way, which would be much more difficult if you discovered too late that your renter was struggling with debt.

Things can get tricky if you do find yourself needing to handle a situation with someone on your property who consistently can’t pay rent.  In this case, be mindful of the laws that prevent eviction based on discrimination; even if this isn’t the reason for your concern, it may be brought up by the renter as a defense.  In most cases, though, their inability to foot the bill “can be used to disqualify a potential tenant.”  Just make sure to take some of the above actions ahead of time to prevent an eviction in the first place by looking into their potential for paying rent on time… or at all.

If you’re only recently getting into the business of working as a landlord, you need to make sure that you understand the terminology associated with the profession.  If you draw up a lease and miss crucial details because you don’t have a real notion of the vocab used, there may be loopholes or mistakes that unhappy clients may later exploit.  To protect yourself and your business, it’s essential to both know and understand what you put in writing and give to the tenant.  This understanding of the expectations of both as as a landlord and the renter as the other half of the equation keeps everyone happy… or free from the vice grip of the legal system, hopefully.

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