It’s no secret that landlords have problems with tenants, and these issues can come in many different forms. They could be late on the rent, or they could vacate the property without giving you the standard 30-day notice. They could even damage the property, and then leave you with the bill. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to address these issues beforehand because you could be faced with serious legal issues down the road.
The majority of them are related to what is stated in the rental agreement. That’s why you need to put a great deal of thought into what goes into it, and there are certain things that you should avoid.
Using Old or Standard Lease Forms
If you want to spare yourself from any unwanted headaches, having a solid rental agreement is critical. You should avoid using an old or standard lease form because it can be just as bad as not having one at all. Many of them will have old laws that no longer apply. So, there may be certain clauses that are unenforceable, and that could leave you with more obligations than you would like.
Standard forms may also leave out certain tenant’s rights, and it may impose more restrictions on them than is permissible by law. It’s a much smarter idea to make a lease agreement of your own – one that is specific to the requirements of your state.
Not Returning Security Deposits
Most states have a deadline for returning security deposits, which is why you need to make sure you take care of this obligation in a reasonable timeframe. Otherwise, you could find yourself in small claims court, which could leave you paying up to three times the amount of the original deposit. To protect yourself, you should specify the timeframe for returning the tenant’s security deposit.
Asking Awkward Questions
This usually applies to how you conduct the “tenant background screening.” You could ask a question that may be interpreted in the wrong way. There are a number of different scenarios where this could occur, but most of them result in a landlord making assumptions about certain protected classes.
You should also avoid any questions about a tenant’s marital status, as well as about their family. You should also avoid making any comments about a tenant’s disability. While you may not mean it in an offensive, he or she might not take it in that way.
Not Fulfilling Promises
You might have promised to make certain improvements to the property, and you might have said you were going to add certain amenities as well. You could have promised a new parking space or a new paint job. Regardless of what you said, you can still be held liable.
Of course, there may be other amenities that you might have promised, but not following through on them could cause the tenant to break the lease or sue you for the difference in value. You want to make sure you address these issues beforehand, and you always want to make good on any promises that you make to tenants – especially when it comes to any added improvements or amenities.
Excessive Late Fees
The courts have been cracking down on this problem in recent years. You never want to charge any late fees that a tenant or a judge may consider to be unjustified. Instead, they should reflect the actual damages or losses you have suffered as a result of their negligence.
Using a Real Estate Attorney
While being a landlord may be a good way to make money off of a property, doing so could open you up to many different legal liabilities. And most of them are because of something in the lease agreement. That’s why you need to take the time to address any potential issues beforehand, and you want to be clear about your and the tenant’s responsibilities.
A qualified real estate attorney can be a valuable resource for landlords, and he or she can help you to put together a solid lease agreement that will benefit all parties involved. If you want to find out how much we can help you, get in touch with us today!