Despite real estate being a profitable business option, many investors are wary about dipping their toes in the pool because of its unique drawbacks. One of the most significant drawbacks of owning property is dealing with terrible tenants. Not only can bad tenants ruin your mood and cause you significant inconvenience, but they can also be expensive Problems for Landlords.
However, as the saying goes, “knowledge is power.” So you can protect yourself by learning about the common legal problems for landlords and how to remove arrest records online
Asking Applicants Discriminatory Questions – Problems for Landlords
After putting in several hours to improve digital marketing and attract multiple candidates, it’s only natural to select the best applicant who can maintain your property. However, during the tenant screening process, some landlords fall into the trap of asking overly personal questions. So in a bid to source for more information about a prospective renter, that might ask discriminatory questions.
Details like criminal background, credit rating, and occupational history are relatively personal, but they’re fair game because they’re relevant to the circumstances. On the other hand, questions about ethnicity, religion, gender identity, and more don’t necessarily affect your people’s ability to pay rent. That said, it would be best to look over your standard questions before an interview. The last thing you need is a lawsuit for violating fair housing policy.
Withholding Information from Prospective Tenants – Problems for Landlords
Another legal pitfall landlords often find themselves in is withholding vital information about their rental’s condition. In theory, hiding problems with your rental that may influence a tenant’s decision might seem like a better solution than fixing it. However, not only is that morally unethical, but it’s also criminal.
Look up full-service property management the standard disclosure policy of your jurisdiction and follow it to the letter, even that means revealing unappealing information. For instance, your tenants have the right to know if their health is at risk due to lead paint or mold by entering a lease with you. Additional disclosures you might have to make are the presence of sex offenders on the property and the death of recent occupants.
Including Illegal Policies in Your Rental Agreement
It’s standard practice for both parties to sign a rental agreement when the landlord and tenant reach an understanding. However, it would be best to be wary of what goes into that lease because an invalid document can land you in hot water.
For instance, some landlords try to wiggle out of their responsibilities by inserting clauses that exempt them from making repairs or forcing tenants to sign away their rights to privacy. Not only are these clauses unjust, but they’re also illegal as they contradict landlord-tenant policies. If you’re cut trying to sneak rules that go against the legal codes of your jurisdiction, you could be facing a hefty fine.
Still, you must note that good-hearted landlords can also fall victim to this unique legal problem. If you’re guilty of downloading generic lease agreements from the internet, you could also fall into this trap. Anyone can upload a document, whether or not it follows the appropriate codes. Thus, it’s your due diligence to proofread, and if necessary, have a real estate lawyer look over your contract before signing.
Failing to Keep up with Maintenance
According to fair housing policy, tenants have the right to live in habitable conditions. In other words, landlords have the legal responsibility to ensure the lives and properties of their tenants are safe at all times. To that end, when your renters alert you of a problem, take immediate action to rectify the situation and restore order.
Although it would be best to arrest the situation before it gets out of hand, ideally, you should inspect your units before tenants move in and after moving out of the property. It’s also a good habit to perform routine inspections during their tenancy to ensure the locks are secure, the smoke detectors are functional, and other home systems are in order.
Accidents are bound to happen, and sometimes things break down and need fixing. If these are home appliances or public amenities, it’s your job as the landlord to repair them or hire someone who can. Despite knowing that fact, some property owners are guilty of delaying repairs without appropriate reason.
Although it’s harder to ignore immediate inconvenient issues such as a leaking pipe or a broken air conditioning unit, it would still be best to fix them as soon as possible. Still, that doesn’t mean you should drag your feet when it comes to making repairs that don’t directly inconvenience your tenants. For example, landlords are more likely to drag their feet when fixing a shaky hand railing or replace a burnt-out bulb. But if left unchecked, such minor hazards can become a worse and more expensive problem to resolve or even cause severe damage. Remember that you’re liable to a lawsuit if your tenant sustains any harm due to your negligence.
Violating Your Tenants’ Right to Privacy
A tenant does not forfeit their civil rights when they decide to live on your property. Hence, the previous point emphasized drafting a legally binding rental agreement between both parties. However, some landlords fail to adhere strictly to landlord-tenant laws protecting renters’ privacy rights. While it is still legally your property, you do not have the jurisdiction to enter a tenants’ home without prior permission or under particular circumstances.
Some well-meaning landlords might fall privy to this pitfall when trying to make repairs, as is their duty. But entering a unit when the resident is not around would be unlawful without prior written notice. The stipulated time is often 24 hours, but it may vary from one county to the next, so always verify. You may only ignore standard protocol in an emergency such as a fire, burst pipe, domestic violence, or with a police warrant.
Unlawfully Evicting Tenants
Following the 2020 lockdown, you might be familiar with tenants withholding or being unable to make rent. No matter the circumstances surrounding their inability to pay, you can’t run a business on sympathy. So after a while, you decide you’ve had enough, you tell the tenant to leave the next day or perhaps even forcefully evict them yourself. However, your attempt to remove a problematic tenant might backfire in the form of an unlawful eviction suit. Even if your tenant is guilty of being a public nuisance, violating their lease, or committing a felony, you still need to follow due protocol.
If reasoning with the occupant fails, and you’re convinced there’s no other way to resolve your differences, then you can serve them with an eviction notice. Next, gather the appropriate documents and proof for your petition. Only after a judge grants you a legal Writ of Restitution can you ask the tenant to live. If the evicted occupant is unresponsive, it would be best to wait for law enforcement. Also, if the tenant fails to remove their property from the premises, remember to wait the required time before disposing of it.
If you want to be a good landlord, you have to exercise patience and emotional intelligence when dealing with your tenants. You also have to operate within the boundaries of the law to avoid trouble and stay clear of lawsuits.
We hope you found this article on common legal problems for landlords & how to avoid them. As long as you stay up-to-date with the latest codes guiding landlord-tenant relationships, you should be safe from hefty legal fines.