However, opening your property up for rent isn’t for everyone. There are inherent obligations that come with the landlord role.
Following them to the letter allows you to enjoy the rewards of renting out your property without facing legal trouble. What are a landlord’s rights? That’s what we’ll get into within this guide, along with tenant rights too.
Before finding a house to rent, tenants should have a decent sense of what to expect from the owner or landlord.
Knowing the rights and obligations of both landlord and tenant is key to running a property successfully.
Legal Obligations For Landlords
It is essential to know that this guide cannot replace researching landlord laws in your state. Landlord guidelines vary, and you must brush up on your state’s landlord-tenant laws to truly protect yourself from unexpected legal outcomes.
However, we can give you some basics to keep in mind when putting your property up for rent:
All basics for habitability are required, including running water, heat, plumbing, and electricity.
1. All parties that have a legal right to manage the property should be disclosed to the tenant, including any property management company you choose in the future.
2. Give notice before entering the property unless there is an active emergency that requires immediate access.
3. The property must remain well-maintained and all major repairs handled. Buying the right home is only the beginning.
4. The security deposit collected from the tenant must be returned after the tenant moves out, minus specific deductions that are governed by local landlord laws.
5. Every state will continue to have its own rules beyond this, but it’s important to have the basics outlined in the lease agreement so that all parties are aware of their obligations.
Handling Conflicts as a Landlord
One of the strongest defenses against conflicts is a well-drafted lease agreement. It does not take away from the possibility of conflicts with tenants, but it does define what the tenant can expect from you and what you can expect from them.
It’s an agreement that both parties have to sign that’s imperative to real estate investment.
One of the top conflicts between landlords and tenants is repairs. The landlord is expected to make repairs, and many times they either don’t believe the repairs are valid or don’t have the money to move forward with them.
Regardless of the reason why repairs aren’t completed, it’s important to go back to both the lease agreement as well as the laws in your state to get things resolved.
Keep everything as professional as possible, even if accusations are flying between you and the tenant. This is the case in all of North America, including the U.S. and Canada. Send written messages instead of picking up the phone. Creating a paper trail is very important if things escalate in the future.
Your tenant may genuinely approach with valid concerns, and it’s important to make sure that they’re being heard as much as possible. A happy tenant who’s bringing up a concern deserves respect, just like anyone else.
As a tenant, you have rights and responsibilities just like the landlord. While the landlord is responsible for providing a safe and habitable home, you have a few responsibilities as well.
They include the following:
1. Adhering to the terms of the lease, including disclosing all parties that plan to reside at the property
2. Letting the landlord know about any repairs in the home, including damages caused by members of the household
3. Paying rent on time every month
4.Maintaining the property by keeping it clean, accessible, and free of hazards
Just like landlord responsibilities can vary by state, tenant rights and responsibilities can vary by state as well. Make sure that you directly reference your state’s laws on landlord-tenant relations.
When Conflict Escalates: Making Your Case in Court
In ideal conditions, most conflicts would simply be a matter of communication and resolve themselves without requiring court action. Unfortunately, some situations require resolution in court.
Whether you’re a landlord or a tenant, you will still be held to a high standard of providing proof for your claim. Be sure that you come to court with plenty of evidence ready to present.
Court Tips for Landlords
For the landlord claiming that rent is behind, they will have to produce proof that they have not received rent. If there is a conflict around repairs to the property, photographs of the work needed help clear up not only the extent of the repairs but whether the repairs are severe enough of an obligation for a landlord.
Should you have an attorney present? Legal representation is always a good idea. An attorney with a strong background in real estate law pertaining to your state can give you the foundation to win your case.
Sadly, one of the top reasons that landlords have to go to court in the first place is to begin the eviction process. This is also a time where it may be tempting to cut corners with a difficult tenant, such as changing locks or turning off utilities. This is the wrong thing to do, as it is illegal and considered hostile by the judge.
Court Tips for Tenants
If you’re a tenant defending your rental record in court to avoid eviction, it is important to bring evidence with you. For example, if you have spent the money on rent, providing receipts is critical to the success of your case.
Is it possible to avoid court entirely? If both parties agree to meet with a mediator, that can be far less costly than going to court and paying for an attorney. The mediator is tasked with helping both parties reach an agreement instead of taking sides, which can help keep the matter as professional as possible.
Secure Your Investment by Knowing Your Rights
The idea that conflict is part of landlord-tenant relations isn’t the case. Indeed, proper communication from the beginning can eliminate many issues that come up in property management.
The landlord wants to have their home taken care of, and the tenant wants a safe place to live. Both parties, through consistent communication, can build an agreement that truly provides both parties with exactly what they’re looking for.
About the author: The above article on legal tips for tenants and landlord was written by Luke Williams. Luke writes and researches for the legal and insurance education site, FreeAdvice.com. His passions include best practices for personal finance, real estate professionals, and other ways people can spend better.