Being a landlord is more than finding tenants for a rental property; rather, it’s a process with legal repercussions if you take a misstep along the way. To protect yourself from those repercussions, and legally manage your rental property well, use these tips to achieve the best outcome for you and your tenants.
Vet a potential tenant before renting to them
You’d be foolish not to vet prospective tenants, but it’s essential that you know what actions you can take to vet tenants and what questions you can ask applicants. Improper execution of either process can lead to legal repercussions from denied applicants.
Get—and file—a signed rental agreement
Don’t be in such a rush to rent that you neglect to have your tenants sign the rental agreement, or that you pass over the opportunity to review the terms of the rental agreement with them. You should also provide your tenant with a copy of the signed agreement, and document the date and time that you provided the tenant with a signed copy.
Use a rental agreement that meets all the local regulations
Contact a local attorney to make sure the rental agreement you are using is updated and specific to your state and local regulations, protects your rights and the tenant’s rights, doesn’t include prohibited terms, and doesn’t place any additional and unnecessary obligations on your shoulders.
Document the condition of the premises
Documentation of the rental property should happen at two different points in the rental process: when the tenant begins tenancy and when they move out (or end tenancy). Don’t ever underestimate the value of documenting as a landlord; if any problems turn into a legal proceeding, you, as the landlord, need to provide documents related to the situation.
Make repairs and do maintenance promptly
Many tenant-landlord disputes stem from essential repairs that weren’t performed by the rental property owner or manager—and the hazards to the tenant from repairs that weren’t made. Have a regular maintenance schedule to keep your rental properties in satisfactory condition.
Know the do’s and don’ts of a security deposit
Security deposits are an essential part of the renting process, but can also become a source of conflict if you don’t follow regulations related to proper handling of a security deposit. Know your rights as a landlord: when you need to return a security deposit, what can be deducted from the deposit, when you can keep a security deposit, etc.
Consult an attorney
Don’t assume that your actions are legal without contacting an attorney. Even actions that seem common-sense can lead to legal repercussions later.
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