How to Avoid Legal Pitfalls with Tenants

As a landlord, you have a lot of things to worry about. Are you letting the correct person rent from you? Are you staying on top of maintenance issues so that they won't cause more problems down the road? Are you abiding by both federal and local laws? The last one can be difficult, because laws are always changing and evolving, sometimes without you knowing. If you own a rental in one area and live in another, there may be different legal expectations for the county that your rental is in. Never assume that local laws are the same in two different places without verifying.

We can't note every legal issue that you may ever run across, but LandlordStation has gathered a few tips to help get you started when it comes to legally approaching your tenants.

  • Top 7 Pitfalls - There are general precautions that you can make when you choose to become a landlord and accept a tenant into your rental. Take a look at these to see how to protect yourself against some more common mistakes.
  • Know the Law - Part of avoiding legal pitfalls is knowing the law. Even if there is not a federal law in place on a subject, double check your local laws.
  • Know When to Hire a Lawyer - Hiring a lawyer can be an expensive avenue to take, but that doesn't mean that there aren't times when it is necessary.
  • Federally Protected Disabilities - As a landlord and property manager you will need to be aware of what disabilities are legally covered and how to best approach an applicant/current tenant with disabilities.
  • Lead-Based Paint Disclosure - Part of your responsibility as a landlord and property manager is to provide a safe and habitable environment for your tenants. If your rental unit is old enough, there may be lead-based paint on the walls, which could be hazardous to your tenants' health.
  • Tenants That Expect You to Mediate - You may own a collection of units/houses close together or you may have a set of tenants that are roommates, but if you put more than one person in close quarters, there are bound to be disagreements. Some of those disagreements may turn into something that they expect you, as their landlord, to handle.
  • Noise Complaints - The complaint may be about your tenant or from your tenant about a neighbor, but no matter the situation, a landlord will need to know how to approach a noise complaint.
  • Threats from Tenants - If you receive a threat from a tenant, no matter if it's a threat of violence against you or another tenant or a threat of legal action, you will need to handle the situation with care.
  • Tenants that Hoard - You may have a tenant that you find does not keep your rental up to shape. There are certain steps you can take to work with a tenant that hoards.
  • Drug Dealing - Drug dealing and/or manufacturing could cause a great deal of damage, and you'll want to handle the situation quickly and legally.
  • Tenant Screenings & Privacy [Part One I Part Two] - Tenant screenings are one of your first lines of defence against tenants that will turn delinquent, but a tenant screening will provide you with very sensitive information that your applicant may not wish you to share with just anyone. While some things may be handled with a few commonsense approaches, others have legal ramifications if you do not follow the letter of the law closely.
  • Owner Move-in Evictions - There may come a day when you or a family member needs to move into your rental, but there is a tenant already living there. Your local laws may dictate how you will need to approach this situation.
Posted on Jun 23, 2016


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