Archives for posts with tag: landlord/tenant law

The constant fluctuations of the housing market can mean many things in terms of property investment, rental rates and the life of a landlord. We know, for instance, that there is a higher percentage of renters in the United States than there has been in quite sometime. But what we haven’t addressed is that there are also more landlords. Whether you have found yourself in a property investment deal that didn’t go quite as planned or you’ve moved to another house while your old property has sat on the market for far too long, you yourself may have already become a landlord due to lack of options. The life of a landlord can be financially rewarding, but it can also be complex and draining with many rules, laws and advice to wade through. In this post, we want to distill a few of the more important tips that will lead to a better life for both you and your tenants.
1. Have a Knowledgeable Attorney On Speed Dial

And we don’t mean your friend from high school who now works in criminal law or your neighbor who used to be a paralegal. You should find an attorney who specializes and it intimately familiar with landlord/tenant law and the evictions process. No one wants to think about evictions when you don’t even have a tenant yet, but the fact is that at some point you will have to deal with the process. If you develop a good relationship with an attorney sooner rather than later, it can save you a lot of headache and maybe a few bucks in the future. A good attorney can also help you by reviewing your lease agreement to make sure there aren’t any glaring errors or problems.

2. Consider Professional Property Management

It may seem like an expensive prospect, but the fact is that unless you live next door and can dedicate a significant amount of your time to dealing with your tenants, you will be much better off having the property managed professionally. A trusted manager can fix problems as they arise, collect rents and develop a professional relationship with your tenants so that you can go on living your life without the constant threat of a phone call with and emergency plumbing situation.

3. Set Expectations Right Away

It’s evident from this blog post and the ensuing comments that most landlords agree it’s important to set your expectations up front and not back down, even if it makes you uncomfortable at first. As a landlord, it is important to remember that while you may respect and even like your tenants, you are not friends with them. Insist that they pay their rent in full, on time, from the very beginning. This makes it less likely that they will offer up excuses in the future. You’ve become a landlord to recoup an investment, one way or another, and you won’t be able to do that unless you actually get rent.

4. Find a Good Apartment Application

Having an application system in place before you even put out a yard sign for your vacancy will make your rental process go more smoothly. Of course, we may be a little biased, be we find that an online rental application is much simpler to use than a paper form. You can collect all the information you need – including references, driver’s license number, credit check approval and a new tenant’s contact information – and keep it safely in one place online for future reference. Even if you don’t choose to go online with the process, make sure you have an application ready as soon as tenants start calling.

5. Choose Tenants Wisely

If you’re desperate to start making income from your property, you may want to take the first person who shows an interest, but that is not the best idea. Screen your tenants, run a credit check on your tenants, interview your tenants, call your tenants’ landlords. Make sure they are trustworthy people who are not apt to destroy your property and run off in the middle of the night without paying rent.

Of course, being a landlord is not as simple as five easy tips, but keeping these in mind as you venture into the world of landlord-hood should make your new role a little easier.

There are many good reasons that you have a tenant sign a lease before allowing them to move in to your rental property.  Surely you have invested a great deal of time and money into your property and you want to protect that investment.  Having a lease with your tenants means making sure you are protected financially in the case of damage to your property but it also means that you are protected if your tenant decides to move out early, leaving you with a vacancy before their lease is up.

Have a tenant break a lease can be frustrating.  You expended effort in finding the right tenant for your vacancy, possibly even turning people away before choosing who you would allow to move in and then that person or family moves out before the term of their lease is up, leaving you back at square one!  The situation can be made even more frustrating since you may actually feel a great deal of sympathy for the tenant who needs to move out.  He or she may have managed to purchase property of their own or may have found a job in another state or may find themselves getting married and moving in with their new spouse.  All of these are joyous occasions and you may feel happy for them even though you are the one facing the consequences of their choices.

But rest assured, as a landlord, you have rights when your tenants break their lease in this manner and you should absolutely exercise them without apology.  When a tenant signs a lease, usually for a year long term, he is entering into a legally binding contract that says he will pay an agreed upon rent in exchange for permission to occupy your property for that entire term.  Just because a tenant decides or is forced to move out before that term is up does not mean the lease simply vanishes and is unenforceable.  Instead, you have the right to insist that your tenant either continue to pay rent for the remainder of the lease, or continue to pay rent until which point he finds a suitable subletter to finish out the duration of the lease.

As a landlord, you may also choose to offer the option of a buyout, which means agreeing on a price for which you will release your tenant from his or her lease agreement.  Be sure to have the document in writing so that there is no confusion in the future.

Making these demands for payment does not make you mean or unreasonable.  These are your rights as a property owner.  If you do plan to demand payment from your tenants who are breaking their lease, be sure to have an attorney on hand in case there is any refusal or difficulties in obtaining your payments.

The messy situation that is a messy lease is a great reason to have  a clear and understandable lease signed by each and every tenant that lays out these terms without question.  Since you may need to consult the lease when your tenants tell you they are moving out, it is helpful to always have a copy at the ready.  There’s no easier way to do this then to use an online apartment lease, through a system like Rocket Lease.  Since the entire lease process is online, including an online signature feature, you won’t have to go searching through overstuffed files or risk a deadly papercut.  Just click into your Rocket Lease dashboard and find out exactly what your tenants agreed to with no questions.