Being a landlord is tough. Aside from fixing air conditioners and unclogging sinks, there are legal matters to consider. It can be difficult to figure out what rights you have, what rights your tenant has, and what to do in cases where the two overlap.
As your dad used to say, knowing is half the battle, so here are a few common mistakes that you should avoid as a landlord:
- Don't invade a tenant's privacy. You cannot enter a rental unit unless you have given 24-hours of verbal or written notice.
- Don't ask discriminating questions. As a landlord, you want to vet your potential tenants with a series of questions, but you can't ask about religion, ethnicity, gender, disability sex or race.
- Don't leave anything out. If your rental unit has a problem that the tenant should be aware of, it's your duty to let them know. This could be things like mold, sex offenders in the building, lead-based paint or recent deaths.
- Don't ignore eviction procedure. Every state has specific laws regarding the eviction process; laws you must follow in order to protect your interests in any dispute that may arise.
- Don't skimp on security. You should provide a safe environment for your tenants, which could mean everything from proper lighting and locks to gates and security guards.
As you can see, it's not always easy to adhere to the law when it comes to being a landlord. Even if you do, you may still face legal actions from tenants. When that happens, you may want to have an attorney who has experience with landlord-tenant dispute resolution.