Renting property is a great way to make money, but there are plenty of legalities that landlords must follow. As the laws change, you may need to update your documents. Make sure you check for updates on these four types of documents. If you don't, you could unintentionally break the law or give up some of your rights.
Rental Lease Applications
As your business grows, you may want to make changes to your rental lease agreement application. Doing so can help you choose tenants who match the evolving needs of your business.
It is also possible that changes to the Fair Housing Act could affect the questions that you ask on the application. It is currently a violation of civil rights, for instance, to deny an application because of race, national origin, disabilities, familial status, and several other factors. Avoiding questions about these and related issues could help protect you from discrimination charges. If you do not update your application, you could be asking questions that are no longer appropriate.
Tenant Consent to Background and Reference Checks
Most landlords use background and reference check forms so they are authorized to gather information about the criminal and credit histories of potential tenants. Since you cannot get this information without the applicant's permission, it is an essential step to protect yourself legally.
While it is unlikely that your state's form will change very often, governments do make occasional changes that require your attention. For instance, residents of California, Minnesota, and Oklahoma can request copies of their background check reports. Any state could make this or a similar change at any time. If you do not have the most recent version, you may not have legal permission to access an applicant's information.
Tax forms change from year to year, so it is important to make sure you are using the latest version.
The specific tax forms that you use will likely depend on how you organize your business. Most landlords will need IRS Form 88225, Rental Real Estate Income and Expenses of a Partnership or an S Corporation. This form makes it simple to list your expenses and gross rents. If you have an old version, you probably will not meet current laws.
Although you own your properties and can generally do what you want with them, your tenants have rights that prevent you from terminating their leases under some circumstances. For instance, you must give tenants plenty of warning before evicting them, even if you need them to move because they haven't paid rent. Tenants usually have anywhere from a week to one month to move out of the property.
If you already have some experience as a landlord, then you probably already know some of the basic requirements for evicting tenants. Those requirements, however, are subject to change at any time. Updating them at least once a year will help ensure that you follow the law so you can remove unwanted tenants as quickly as possible.
Eviction laws and tenant rights also vary from state to state. This makes it important for you to get updated forms for every state where you have rental properties.
Updating your documents may seem like a hassle, but using the most current versions will help protect your rights as a landlord. If you aren't using the most recent updates, you may open yourself up to lawsuits or fines.
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