The law generally respects the right of landlords to control their own property, but it also provides powerful legal protections to tenants. While many of these laws are federal, others vary from state to state, and most municipalities have their own regulations. Whether you rent out a single-family home or own several apartment buildings, consider hiring a real estate lawyer who has the expertise to help you avoid some of the following mistakes.
5 Common Landlord Errors
1. Using Standardized Leases
Creating a lease for your rental property may seem as easy as printing one from a website, but generic documents might not comply with your state’s tenant’s rights laws. To ensure your lease is enforceable and avoid opening yourself up to a lawsuit later, have a real estate lawyer look over your lease before giving it to tenants.
2. Asking the Wrong Questions
Carefully screening tenants will protect your investment and reduce the stress of running a rental property, but the law actually makes some questions off-limits. Asking whether a couple is married or about a tenant’s sexual orientation could be grounds for a discrimination complaint, for example.
3. Discriminating Against Tenants
The Fair Housing Act specifically prohibits landlords from discriminating against tenants based on their national origin, race, color, religion, disability, familial status, sex, or gender. Just advertising a property as “great for families” or making your property off-limits for children may open you up to a federal complaint.
4. Not Keeping Promises Made to Tenants
If a tenant has reservations about the condition of the property, they might ask for improvements before signing the lease. If you promise to replace the carpet or provide a parking space, the tenant might be able to legally break the lease or file a suit if you fail to deliver.
5. Misusing Renters’ Deposits
As a general rule, a tenant’s security deposit can only be used to pay for repairs that don’t fall under the scope of normal wear and to cover unpaid rent. Landlords who use these funds to replace appliances, perform routine maintenance, or cover other costs may find themselves subject to an expensive lawsuit when the tenants move out.
For over a decade, landlords throughout Milford, PA, have relied on the real estate lawyers at Levy, Stieh, Gaughan & Baron PC to resolve legal disputes and ensure compliance with state and federal laws. They offer unmatched legal expertise, dedicated attention to every client, and services that meet the highest ethical standards. To discuss your issue and schedule a consultation with a skilled real estate lawyer, call their offices at (570) 296-8844 or visit their website now.