Many investors would think that it's pretty simple to stay out of prison. Don't break the law, right? They may not think of the actions they may take - or not take, in some cases - that could land them with large fines and/or prison time when it comes to their real estate investment.
If a property is not maintained to code and someone dies because of this, the landlord can actually be held responsible. This could be anything from a non-functioning fire alarm in the home to loose floorboards on a deck that might send someone crashing through at any time. Be careful, make repairs where they're needed, do inspections on the fire alarm system to make sure it is functioning properly, and keep everything up to code so that you can keep your property as safe as possible for the tenants.
Make sure that when you're looking for new tenants that you do not discriminate as noted by the Fair Housing laws. There are national protected classes such as race, gender, family status, etc etc that are automatically protected, but some states do add to this, so be careful to know both federal and local laws. Saying this, however, do make sure that you use good judgement in choosing people with appropriate credit scores, income, and other qualifications that you set that do not conflict with the fair housing laws.
The last thing that the author of the article has seen and noted as a fast-track to prison time is tax fraud. Make sure to have a qualified CPA do your taxes to make sure that you are abiding by all of the tax laws that the federal and local governments have set in place.
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