Updated September 2017
According to rent.com, most Americans move between May and September, and that’s not a surprising fact considering that the weather is cooperative to move your household to a different location, young people are graduating from college and schools are on summer break. It also means that there are more units open and higher chances to take your property off the rental market soon.
These are some tips on how to be a great landlord:
- Get it in writing: you’ll likely lose a case as a landlord if you have an oral lease agreement. Make sure to create and sign a lease agreement; it is also important to read your agreement. Put your agreements in writing with our legal documents for landlords.
- Is it livable? It’s the responsibility of the landlord to maintain the home in a habitable condition, meaning: yes, if it’s broken you need to fix it and make it fit to live in.
- Ask the right questions: Establish how many tenants are you going to have. Ask for their work history, their credit report and if they have pets. Be clear about moving dates and how the lease is going to work.
- Think again about the no pet policy: if your tenants have a service animal you cannot refuse to rent the property to them. If you do you’re violating federal laws, including the Americans with Disabilities Act.
- Call it like it is: maybe you don’t see yourself as one, but if you are renting your property out to a tenant, you are a landlord. Even if being a “landlord” is your side job, you still need to keep abreast of the changes in rental property law. We also recommend asking a lawyer to take a look at your lease agreement.
- Don’t drop in unannounced: you found the right tenants, they have the right to privacy, so anytime you plan to visit let them know in advance, that will keep a cordial and respectful relationship going.
- You just can’t kick em’ out: a landlord must obtain a court judgment before evicting a tenant.
- Get legal help: a shocking 58% of owners and tenants don’t get their leases reviewed by a lawyer. When 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.
- About the deposit: if you require some tenants a larger deposit than others, they have the right to know why. Also, when the lease has ended and you’re not returning the full deposit make sure that you send an itemized list of how the money was spent.
- Rent- don’t discriminate: according to federal anti-discrimination and federal housing law, people must be dealt with on an equal basis regardless of sex, age, race, ethnicity, nationality, disability, mental, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression/dysphoria, sex characteristics, religious, creed. Meaning: you have to treat everyone equally and can’t discriminate against a protected class. Learn more about how to screen tenants legally.