No one would believe that a tenant would put the landlord in trouble on purpose. However, the tenant might retaliate if the landlord is not fair or do not respect their rights. Unluckily, the rights of tenants are more than the landlord who actually owns the property. If a landlord doesn’t understand the tenant’s rights, he may get himself into a difficult situation.
If you as a property owner, want to have a rental business that is prosperous; then, you should be careful not to do things that might make the tenant put you in trouble. So, the maintenance and repairs of the property along with abiding by state laws needs to be taken care of by the landlord. In this article, we will discuss the nine most common causes of a tenant to get you into trouble.
1. Not following the Fair Housing Act
Even before signing a renting contract, a landlord can get in trouble. There are some particular questions stated in the Fair Housing Act, that the landlord cannot ask the tenant due to the housing-related discrimination. For example, asking about color, sex, religion, race, national origin, disabilities and family status is prohibited. The law doesn’t allow landlord to refuse renting his property based on these things. Another discrimination that is not allowed is familial status. A landlord cannot turn down a family with children even if he prefers to rent the property to a single person.
2. Unable to provide a noiseless environment
A common issue for landlords is complaints of noise from tenants. This doesn’t include traffic noise as it’s not in control of the landlord. To help block out noise, you can arrange good insulation, for example curtains. It is the right of tenants to be undisturbed while on your property. This also includes noisy hardware appliances or fire alarms.
3. Visiting without notice
The landlords should not come to the property without prior notification other than an emergency. If you fail to do so, it might be reported as harassment and you can get into trouble with the law. Different states have different laws for this, a few have a rule of a 24 hours notice before visiting by landlord. So, to avoid this, you can work out contact method with your tenant. You can use a rent collection app that allows landlords to get in touch with the tenant directly. Another advantage of such apps is that they can help get monthly rent on time monthly. They also accept the requests for maintenance.
4. Providing livable conditions
The units that you rent out must be in a livable condition. Your property must be in accordance with the building codes given out by the state it is located in. However, hot water, heat, plumbing, drinking water and smoke detectors must also be provided on the property. You should also make sure that your property is free from termites, pests, all sorts of insects, and rodents.
5. Not taking care of requests for repairs
One of the tricky area in which a tenant can easily get a landlord in trouble is maintenance and repairs. Usually, a tenant should take care of minor maintenance, for example, taking out the trash, maintaining the lawn. It is also a tenant’s responsibility to keep the property safe and clean as well as fixing the damage they cause to the property. Tenants must also let the landlord know if they see any dangerous of defective conditions. So, landlords might not be responsible for minor repairs, for example, a leaking pipe or tap unless they have made a verbal or written promise to fix it. State laws will dictate the amount of time you can take to process requests for repair.
6. Not taking care of standards related to basic safety and health
If something unsafe happens on the property, the tenant has the rights to maintenance and repairs. For example, some of the necessary repairs which are stated in the building codes and landlord-tenant laws are included here. This includes particular security issues that can cause criminal activities and also problems like heating, pest control, and plumbing. According to some states’ laws, tenants can refuse to pay rent or deduct repair amount from the rent.
7. Not having accurate documentation
The most critical document for the landlord is a rental agreement as it gives security to the landlord. It includes the responsibilities and rights of a tenant. You can get various types of rental agreements online that are standard. State laws are usually not considered in these kinds of standard general agreements. If you use such an agreement, it can get you into trouble with the state or federal law. One important thing that needs to be included in the rental agreement is the clause regarding the termination of the lease or reason for eviction. You must ask a lawyer to read the lease agreement before you sign it, if you don’t understand something.
8. Security deposit related issues
There are certain rules related to security deposit in some states. For example, in some states it is compulsory for the landlord to return the security deposit within 30 days after the tenant vacates the property. Other states this period is of 10 days. Retaining the security deposit is generally illegal even in case of a tenant breaking a lease. A landlord is not allowed to retain the security deposit for any wrong reasons. Security deposit should be used is a proper way, to avoid law disputes and wastage of time and money. Landlords should be aware that security deposit can only be used in general maintenance or cleaning. So, make sure you don’t use the security deposit for renovation or new purchases on the property.
9. Not being fair in charging rent and late fees
A tenant can also get you into trouble if you are not aware of the rent controls applied in your state. State laws set the maximum rent that can be charged. You could set a rent that allows some profit according to the restrictions. The restrictions also apply to late rental payment fees in state laws. So, if you apply a hefty fee for late payment, the court will decide in the tenant’s favor. This means that you should carefully set the amount of rent or options like pay-or-quit notices.