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Landlords: Are you seeking enough legal help?

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In Rocket Lawyer’s landlord and property management survey, we spoke to hundreds of folks who own property and rent it out to tenants. And the results? They were quite surprising.

Nearly 40% of those surveyed do not consider themselves a landlord or property manager—even though they actually do own property and rent it to tenants. Wait, hold on. How does that even work?

Well, it seems that 77% of these “landlords” work other jobs, meaning it’s likely that their rental property is neither their main source of income nor their full-time job. Which begs the question, are you still a landlord if you, yourself, don’t consider yourself as one?

Short answer: Yes. The law won’t stop seeing you as a person who owns property and rents it to tenants. Just as the old saying goes, “If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it probably is a duck,” or rather, in this case, “If you own a rental property like a landlord, have tenants like a landlord, and receive rent money in exchange for accommodation, then you’re probably a landlord.”

Here are more surprising results on how landlords deal with legal help:

Eighty-four percent (84%) have a lease currently signed by their tenant.

It seems like a high percentage but in most legal situations, it’s imperative that you have a contract in place (in this case, a lease agreement). It can be a careless mistake to initiate a landlord/tenant relationship without a legally binding agreement.

Say you (the landlord) and the tenant came to an agreement and solidified it with a handshake. How do you prove this in court? Do you have a witness? Are there any modes of communication (e.g., texts and emails) that can be used as evidence?

By putting your lease agreement in writing, you can set expectations for both parties, which may help mitigate the risk of a legal mess down the road.

Moral of the story: Put your agreements in writing with our legal documents for landlords!

Fifty-eight percent (58%) did not have their lease reviewed by an attorney.

The majority of those who rent out property on AirBnB or VRBO (42% to be exact) said they just simply “figured [the process] out” on their own. With lawmakers cracking down on rental properties from coast to coast, it’s a risky move to just “figure it out” yourself.

In fact, it’s usually far less expensive to consult with a lawyer in the first place to ensure your legal work is done properly than it is to hire a lawyer to fix problems after they happen.

Moral of the story: Find a qualified lawyer with our lawyer directory to make sure everything is legal.

Forty-five percent (45%) do not update their lease to account for changes to the law.

Yet 39.08% have concerns about staying up to date with changes to the law. There’s obviously a huge disconnect here. Even if being a “landlord” is your side job, you still need to keep abreast on the changes in rental property law.

It’s important to educate yourself upfront on new regulations and implement them into your agreement so that your lease stays current and legal.

Moral of the story: Stay up to date with legal news and tips with our Everyday Law blog.

So landlords: do you think you’re seeking enough legal help? Share your stories of being a landlord below!

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