The Pros & Cons Of Written / Oral Rental Agreements

Posted by on September 29, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. How does it benefit to have a written lease agreement, and are there any advantages to having one?
A professional landlord will never make the mistake of renting out his / her property without a formal written agreement. The chief advantage of putting down rental terms in writing, serves to defend a landlord’s right to hold the tenant responsible for paying rent for the entire duration or term of the lease, even though the tenant may have moved out, much before its expiry.

As well, it works to the advantage of the tenant, in that the landlord cannot raise the rent beyond the amount specified in the lease during its term. Furthermore, most standard lease forms are written up by lawyers working for landlords, or for the real estate industry, and more often than not, seem to be heavily slanted in favour of the landlords.

Ques. What are the advantages of an oral versus a written lease?
An oral agreement or month-to-month agreement works to the advantage of a tenant, in that he / she may terminate the lease, moving out without any further rental liability, simply giving a short notice to the landlord. As a rule, the notice should be the same as the term of the agreement i.e. commonly 30-days. Reports indicate tenants are extremely mobile, with 20% moving each year, therefore, if ease of moving out is an important consideration, an oral or month-to-month agreement works in favour of the tenant.

On the other hand, an oral lease provides landlords an easy way out to quickly terminate a lease giving only a short 30-day notice, if he / she finds the tenant to be an undesirable element, or else, if a landlord wishes to raise the rent, an oral agreement plays in his / her favour allowing him / her to increase the rent after giving due notice, usually 30-days. As well, it is best to remember that in the case of oral agreements; usually there is no requirement for a landlord to provide a valid reason for terminating the agreement, a necessary requisite in most other cases.

Ques. What are the disadvantages, if any, to having a lease in writing?
A written lease is more pro-landlord than tenant, it disadvantages a tenant, as a landlord may write in express provisions that void certain protections the law ordinarily makes provisions for tenants. And, written agreements may not always clearly define a landlord’s responsibilities.

Ques. Are there any disadvantages to having only an oral lease?
Because, there is nothing in writing, the major disadvantage of having only an oral agreement is the possibility of misunderstandings arising between landlord and tenant regarding the conditions of the tenancy.

It is important from both landlord and tenant perspectives to have a clearly defined written rental agreement, if they both wish to go in for a long-term relationship. And, an honest landlord will ensure both tenant and landlord responsibilities get due importance in the lease terms. For short-term renting, oral agreements are better for both landlord and tenant.

However, to avoid expensive litigation, whether you go in for a written or oral agreement, it is important for landlords to screen prospective tenants and employees, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit for tenant screening and background check services.

Adding A Roommate To a Lease Or Rental Agreement

Posted by on September 28, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Every landlord must ensure that his / her lease or rental agreement contains a clause stating if a tenant plans on getting a roommate, he / she has to get prior approval, before allowing anyone to move in.

Whether, a tenant would like a current flame to move in with them, or is simply replacing a roommate who has moved on, they must check it with you. Even though, you may not mind another person on the premises, it is always reasonable to play it safe by insisting the new roommate becomes a co-tenant, and takes on the same rights and responsibilities as your existing tenant, they are thinking of sharing your rental premises with.

Obviously, a landlord needs to know, whether the new roommate is financially stable and is a law-abiding citizen. You must be satisfied with the intended co-tenant’s stellar qualifications, before acceding to the request for a roommate. Consider the following before giving the go-ahead:

  1. Will adding a roommate exceed the state occupancy limit? Landlords are entitled to set reasonable limits on the number of occupants per rental unit. As a general rule, two persons per bedroom is permissible, though some localities, such as, New York City allow more.
  2. Will the new roommate meet a landlord’s good-tenant criteria? Like any other prospective tenants, you must subject the proposed new tenant to undergo a thorough screening process, checking credit, employment, rental history, and references, even though your existing tenant has already provided them with a glowing reference.

Unless, you are on fairly close personal terms with your tenant, request a written note if an existing tenant wishes to add a roommate. This gives you an un-pressured opportunity to think about it. If, your rental property is big enough for another tenant, and you are not averse to adding another tenant, this might be a good opportunity to raise the rent considering with an extra body on the premises, there will be more wear ‘n tear of property, as well as, an increase in utility use.

Once everything has been discussed and settled, don’t forget to add an amendment to the existing lease or rental agreement, adding details of the new tenant and getting their signature on the lease, as well.

However, to avoid expensive litigation, whether you go in for a written or oral agreement, screen prospective tenants and employees thoroughly, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit for tenant screening and background check services.

Laws Covering Security Deposits, Rent Increases, Late Fees

Posted by on September 27, 2006 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits, Rents and Deposits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. How much security deposit is a landlord allowed to charge a tenant?
It is permissible in all states to allow landlords to collect security deposit from a tenant at the time he / she moves in. A security deposit is a necessary requirement as landlords use it to cover unpaid rent, or for repairing or cleaning up a tenant’s messy house-keeping, after he / she has moved out. States limit the security amount landlords can charge, which is usually not more than a month or two worth of rent.

State laws state it is a requisite for landlords to put the deposit in a separate account, which is to be paid back to tenants plus interest.

Ques. How can a tenant protect his / her security deposit?
A tenant does not always get back the full security deposit amount plus interest, as more than a few landlords withhold all or part of a tenant’s security deposit on a tenant’s departure as a matter of course, to pay for house cleaning, carpet cleaning, and perhaps repainting. However, unless absolutely necessary due to a tenant’s mis-adventurous use of the rental, it is not legal for a landlord to make such deductions. He / she cannot use security deposits for ordinary wear and tear that occurs during a tenant’s occupancy.

Ques. Is there a grace period for late rent before landlords can begin charging late fees, and are they legal?
Unless, a lease or rental agreement specifies otherwise, most states do not have a legally recognised grace period for late rent. It means, if a tenant has not paid rent on time, a landlord can usually terminate the tenancy with a ‘pay or quit’ notice a day after its due date. However, some leases and rental agreements do provide a five-day grace period for late rent.

As well, there are some landlords, who charge fees for late payment of rent, or for bounced checks, and if reasonable, these fees are usually legal. Laws relating to late fees can be found in a state’s landlord / tenant statutes.

Ques. Is it a legal requirement to pay rent on the first of the month?
Custom demands rent to be paid monthly, in advance, often, on the first day of the month. However, it is perfectly legal for a landlord to ask for rent to be paid at different intervals or on a different day of the month.

Ques. When can a landlord increase the monthly rent?
A landlord can raise the rent, of course, subject to rent control laws with a proper written notice, usually 30-days, if a tenant has a month-to-month rental arrangement.

In the case of a fixed-term lease, the rent cannot be raised during the lease term, unless the increase is specifically called for in the lease, or unless the tenant agrees. When a lease expires, the landlord may raise the rent, again subject to rent control laws, if any.

Ques. How do rent control laws work?
Only five states i.e. California, Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, and New York -have rent control laws, limiting the amount of rent landlords may charge.

Rent control ordinances (also called rent stabilisation or maximum rent regulation) limit rental increases. These rent control laws also require landlords to have a legally valid reason for wishing to terminate a tenancy, e.g. if the tenant does not pay rent, or if the landlord wants the rental property for personal use.

However, to avoid expensive litigation, landlords should as a rule screen prospective tenants and employees thoroughly, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit for tenant screening and background check services.

FAQs – Screening And Selecting Tenants

Posted by on September 22, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Whether, you are a first time landlord or have been in the rental property business for, as long as you can remember, always, but always, check a tenant’s credit history, taking care to avoid legal trouble over discrimination. You may ask:

Ques. How can landlords best screen tenants? Is there a foolproof way to do so?

Ans. Yes, there is a foolproof way of screening tenants that requires a sharp business savvy landlord to have all prospective tenants fill out written rental application forms. The application form, apart from requesting other necessary information, also asks for the following:

  1. Employment, income, and credit history.
  2. Social Security and Driver’s License numbers.
  3. Past evictions or Bankruptcies, if any, and
  4. References.

What must be remembered is tenant selection should not be made before the screening process has been satisfactorily completed. A landlord needs to check previous landlord(s) and other references, as well as, verifying income, employment and bank account information. And, last but not least, do obtain a credit report for a prospective tenant. Especially the last, as a credit report is important from the point of view, it indicates, whether an individual has a history of paying bills late, or whether he / she has declared bankruptcy at any time, or else has been convicted of a crime, or even been evicted.

Ques. Do landlords or property managers have the right to obtain a prospective tenant’s credit report?

Ans. Yes, a prospective tenant’s credit report can be obtained, as long as, you have received written permission to do so. If, an applicant is turned down, due to negative information on a credit report, the applicant has to be informed of the following three things:

  1. The reason for rejecting him / her.
  2. As well, you are required by law to give them the name and address of the agency that has given the adverse report, as well
  3. A landlord must inform the applicant that he /s she has the right to obtain a free copy of the report within 60-days from the agency that provided you with it.

Common knowledge, everyone knows, before a credit check can be run, prospective tenant’s name, address, and Social Security number is required. A credit report can be ordered from a credit reporting agency, and an agency like can help you obtain it from one of the three major national credit bureaus i.e. Equifax or TransUnion.

Ques. Is it a requirement for landlords to use written rental applications?
Ans. While, not really a necessary practice, requesting prospective tenants to fill out written applications is one of the best ways to protect yourself from lawsuits filed by rejected applicants.

For example, after interviewing six tenant applicants, you select the third to rent your rental property to, as you feel he / she is the most likely to be reliable about paying the rent on time. A couple of weeks down the road, you may get a call from a lawyer hired by one of the applicant’s, who claims she was racially discriminated against for being an African-American and a single mother, on top of that. You may settle the matter by paying $10,000/-, but if you don’t, you could end up being promptly sued in federal court for $50,000/- plus.

Having no written documentation that explains the reasons why you selected the single white male with no children as your tenant, over an African-American single mother, with a higher-paying job, may have your insurance company taking the easy way out and paying the rejected applicant $10,000/-. After all, as the insurance company points out, your selection over the other, does look like racial discrimination.

If, you had been able to produce all written applications of all the applicants, including credit reports, references from previous landlords, etc. the end result would most likely have been different. You would have written documentation to support your choice of tenant, his credit history, job stability, far better than the rejected applicant’s, who (despite her current high-paying job) had only recently declared bankruptcy, as well as, a previous landlord reference check did not incline you in her favour.

Ques. What are the illegal types of discrimination, when choosing a tenant?
Ans. A careful study of the Fair housing laws, which specify the reasons considered illegal, when refusing to rent to a tenant, such as, rejection of an applicant on the basis of race, religion, ethnic background, sex, or the applicant has children or suffers from a disability, is a decided necessity. In addition, some state and local laws prohibit discrimination based on an individual’s marital status, sexual orientation, or age.

While, it is legal to freely choose from amongst prospective tenants, a landlord’s decisions must comply with state or federal laws, and must be based on legitimate business criteria. For example, the law entitles a landlord to reject a prospective tenant, with a poor credit history, insufficient income to pay the rent, or past behaviour, such as, damaging property that makes him / her a bad risk factor.

It is also legal to reject on the basis of a valid occupancy policy that limits the number of people per rental unit for health and safety reasons. Landlords are required by law to apply selection standards, such as, minimum income and a good credit report requirements, equally to all tenants.

Ques. What kind of subtle discrimination is considered illegal?
Ans. Fair Housing Acts prohibit landlords from taking any of the following actions based on race, religion, or any other protected category:

  • False denial of a rental unit made available to some applicants.
  • Advertisements that subtly indicate a preference based on group characteristics i.e. colour of the skin.
  • Setting more restrictive standards, such as, higher income, for certain tenants.
  • Being unreasonable in refusing to accommodate necessary needs of disabled tenants i.e. guide dogs, hearing dogs, or other service animals a disabled person requires.
  • Playing favourites among tenants i.e. setting different terms for some tenants, by adopting an inconsistent policy towards late rental payments, or
  • Terminating a tenancy for discriminatory reasons.

To avoid expensive litigation, screen prospective tenants and employees, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit to avail their tenant screening and background check services.

Lease versus Rental Agreements

Posted by on September 21, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

As the owner of rental property, you might well ask whether you really need to go to the bother of drawing up a written lease or rental agreement, or whether a verbal arrangement with a tenant will suffice. Resoundingly yes, it is important to have a written lease or rental agreement, especially if you are to protect yourself against any litigation that may arise from tenancy problems.

As well, lease or rental agreements hold the key to successful tenancies, setting out important issues relating to tenancy duration, rental and deposit amounts, the number of people permitted to live on the rental property, whose responsibility it is to pay the utility charges, whether or not pets are allowed, if sub-letting is permissible, landlord access to the rental property, as well as, who will pay the legal fees in the event of a lawsuit. As for verbal agreements, even though certain states will enforce them, they will only do so for a limited time period i.e. not longer than a year.

Now, the question remains, whether to go in for a lease or a rental agreement. Before deciding on either, you need to know the difference between the two.

Difference Between A Lease And A Rental Agreement

For one, a rental agreement is short-term providing for a limited period tenancy (usually 30-days), which is automatically renewed at the end of the period, unless the tenant or landlord terminates it through a written notice. As well, the terms of the agreement can be changed by written notice, such as, an increase in rental charges, or making the tenant responsible for paying utility charges, for these month-to-month rentals.

A written lease agreement, on the other hand, gives a tenant occupancy rights for a set term, anywhere from six months to a year, and even longer, if a tenant continues to pay rent on time and complies with other lease provisions. However, during the term of a lease, the landlord cannot increase the rent or change other tenancy terms, unless the tenant gives his / her sanction. Unlike a rental agreement, when a lease expires it does not automatically renew itself. A tenant who stays on, with of course, permission from the landlord, after his / her lease has expired, becomes a month-to-month tenant, while still subject to rental terms contained in the lease.

Which One Should A Landlord Go For?

Most landlords prefer month-to-month agreements, particularly when occupancy rates are high and tenants can be found easily due to tight rental markets, and upwards trending rental charges. On the flip side month-to-month tenancies guarantee higher tenant turnover, and more hard work to ensure there are no or limited vacancies.

However, areas with high vacancy rates, or where tenancy rates go down during certain seasons e.g. college or university towns that are deserted during summer months, with students and staff on vacation, landlords prefer to go in for lease, rather than rental agreements. A landlord must decide for himself / herself what best suits the location of his / her rental property.

To avoid expensive litigation, screen prospective tenants and employees, weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit to avail their tenant screening and background check services.

FAQs – Rental / Lease Agreements

Posted by on September 20, 2006 under Landlord and Tenant FAQs | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Any landlord, whose main source of income comes from renting out his / her property should take care to draw up a fair, legally valid agreement, else there could be major legal repercussions if, either landlord or tenant break a lease or an agreement.

Ques. What is the importance of signing a lease or rental agreement?
Ans. Essentially important, a landlord must draw up a legally binding lease or rental agreement, which holds the key to a successful tenancy. It is a document that sets out important issues, such as:

  1. Duration of the tenancy.
  2. Rental and deposit amounts required to be paid by a tenant.
  3. The number of people permitted to live on the rental property.
  4. Whether, the landlord or tenant is responsible for paying for utilities.
  5. Whether, pets can be kept on the rental premises.
  6. Whether, the tenant is allowed to sublet the property.
  7. Landlord’s access to the rental property, and last but, not least,
  8. Who is responsible for paying for legal costs, in the event of a lawsuit?

Always, but always, leases and rental agreements should be put in writing, even though most states do accept oral agreements. Easy and informal, though they may seem oral agreements often lead to heated disputes. If, later on both landlord and tenant disagree about key elements of the agreement, such as, a tenant sub-letting, it could all, far too likely lead to a court argument, over what was said by either party, when it was said and in what context it was said. Usually, this is a particular problem, with long-term leases; therefore, courts in most states do not enforce oral agreements after a year has elapsed.

Ques. Is there a difference between rental agreements and leases? If, so what are the differences?Ans. The biggest difference between the two is the period of occupancy. A written rental agreement provides for a short-term tenancy, often 30-days, and which automatically gets renewed at the end of this period, unless the tenant or landlord end it by way of written notice, which again is typically 30 days. For month-to-month rentals, where rent is paid on a monthly basis, a landlord is allowed to change agreement terms, after proper notice has been duly giving in writing, and again subject to any rent control laws that may be prevalent in the state. Usually, the notice period is of 30-days, though certain states do permit a shorter period, in the case of weekly or bi-weekly rental payments, or if a landlord and tenant mutually consent to it.

On the other hand, a written lease offers a tenant longer term occupancy, anywhere from 6-months to a year, and sometimes even longer, so long as a tenant pays rent on time and continues to comply with other lease provisions. Unlike a rental agreement, when a lease expires, usually, it does not automatically renew itself. A tenant staying on with his / her landlord’s consent is, generally, considered a month-to-month tenant.

As well, a fixed-term lease means a landlord cannot increase the rent or change other tenancy terms during the duration of the lease, unless the changes are, specifically provided for in the lease, or the tenant concurs.

Ques. What are the consequences of a tenant breaking a long-term lease?
Ans. As a rule of thumb, a tenant cannot legally break a lease, unless the landlord significantly violates its terms. For example, if a landlord fails to make necessary repairs, or fails to comply with important health and safety laws. Certain states have put laws in place, allowing tenants to break a lease due to health problems, or job relocation that entails a permanent move.

A tenant found breaking a lease without adequate cause, is held responsible for the remainder of the rent due under the lease term. In most states, however, a landlord is legally duty-bound to try to find a new tenant, as soon as possible, regardless of why the tenant is leaving, rather than having him / her pay for the total rent due, as per lease terms.

Ques. Is it legally possible for a landlord to break a lease, thus ending a tenancy?
Ans. Legally, a landlord can break a lease if a tenant significantly violates the lease terms or breaks the law, e.g. pays rent late, keeps a pet in direct violation of a no-pets lease clause, substantially damages the property, or participates in illegal activities, such as, drug dealing on or close to his / her rental premises.

However, first of all, a landlord is required to send the tenant a notice regarding termination of the tenancy. State laws have set out very detailed requirements, as to how termination notices must be written and delivered or served. Depending on what the tenant has done to break the lease terms or the law, a termination notice must state the tenancy is over, warning the tenant he / she has to vacate the rental premises, if he / she wishes to avoid an eviction lawsuit. Or, if a landlord so wishes, he / she can issue a notice allowing the tenant a few days to clean up his / her act, such as, paying up the rent or finding a new home for the dog or cat. It is important to bear in mind that expensive litigation can be avoided, provide the tenant does as requested. If, a tenant refuses to comply with the termination notice, then the landlord is free to file an eviction lawsuit against the tenant.

To avoid expensive litigation, successful landlords will find screening prospective tenants and employees helps in weeding out undesirable elements with past evictions or criminal pasts. Visit for tenant screening and background check services.

Landlord / Tenant Duties Regarding Repairs & Casualties

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During the term of a lease, many things can happen to the rental accommodation, ranging from plumbing issues, such as, minor water leakage to major fire damage.

The Standard REBNY commercial office lease addresses the duties and obligations associated with the above happenings, with events requiring relatively minor repairs being dealt with in Article 4, the ‘repair’ clause; while major casualties are addressed in Article 9, the ‘destruction’ clause.

For the most part, these clauses have been interpreted more to the benefit of landlords, although occasionally the latter have been left exposed to possible liability. For example, a tenant should be conscious of the fact that:

  1. When ‘repairs’ have to be carried out, the tenant may have to endure considerable business interference, as well as, could specifically be denied any rent abatement; and
  2. In cases of ‘casualty’, the tenant may find the landlord has chosen to terminate the his / her lease that may be of immense value to him / her.


Article 4 provides, in brief, that:

  • A landlord shall and is responsible for maintaining the exterior of the rental premises;
  • On the other hand, the tenant shall and is responsible for maintaining the leased premises; and
  • If, the landlord carries out repairs to the rented premises, the tenant is not eligible for abatement in rental charges.

The no-rent-abatement clause of Article 4 specifically cross-references the destruction clause of Article 9, under which a tenant may be eligible for abatement in rent. In practice, it is difficult to define the boundary between Article 4 and Article 9. Thus, in one litigation case, the Court held that Article 4 did not apply, as severe water damage to the premises had made the premises uninhabitable, therefore, the tenant was entitled to rent abatement, even while, the landlord was required to repair the water leaks at his / her expense.


In the event, rental premises are damaged and uninhabitable due to fire, flood or other accidental destruction, is the landlord entitled to terminate the lease? Is he / she obligated to rebuild the building? The answer to these questions depends on the severity of destruction.

Under the standard Article 9(a): If demised premises are partially damaged or rendered partially uninhabitable, a landlord is obligated to make all necessary repairs at his / her expense, and rent, until such repairs are substantially completed, shall be allocated from the day of the casualty, according to the usable premises.

A landlord’s contract to restore leased property, if it should become uninhabitable applies to damage from accidental causes, but not to the effect of ordinary wear and tear or due to the neglect or fault of the tenant.

According to Article 9(b), for demised premises completely damaged or rendered absolutely unusable, the tenant will have to pay rent up to the time of the casualty, and thereafter, cease until the date when the premises have been repaired and restored by landlord. However, the landlord retains the right to choose not to restore the premises, if the building has been seriously damaged; preferring instead to demolish or rebuild it, the lease thereby can be terminated. In order, to terminate the lease, written notice must be given to the tenant, provided it is provided within 90-days of the casualty, and specifies the end date of the lease.

Accordingly, from a tenant’s perspective, he / she stand to lose a valuable leasehold interest, if the landlord opts for termination of the lease. However, the law says if the landlord complies with the notice provision, then Article 9(d) is enforceable, despite being unfair to the tenant.

But, unless a landlord provides timely written notice terminating the lease, he is obligated carry out all necessary repairs and restorations to the premises, and on his / her part the tenant is compelled to cooperate with the landlord’s restorations by removing all salvageable and movable possessions from the premises. The tenant’s liability to pay rent recommences five days after receiving a written notice from the landlord stating the premises are ready for occupation.

To avoid any litigative issues that may arise from such situations, landlords must carefully select and screen prospective tenants. For help in suitable tenant selection, visit for tenant screening and background check services, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation, penalty charges or property damage.

Considerations For A Landlord Before Proceeding To Evict A Tenant

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There comes a time when every landlord finds himself / herself in a difficult position of having his rental property occupied by a tenant who is not paying rent, or is making a nuisance of himself and causing problems for other tenants, or is causing immense damage to the rental unit, or his / her conduct makes it impossible to continue with a landlord / tenant relationship. Though, state laws governing eviction vary significantly, the following are a few tips to help landlords finding themselves in the unpleasantly messy situation of evicting a tenant.

As the owner of a significant number of residential units, it will be to your benefit to engage a lawyer to advice you on eviction issues, as well as, for handling legal actions. An established relationship with a lawyer is useful as he will carry out various legal tasks charging a flat fee only, whereas, hiring a lawyer on a case to case basis can result in much higher legal fees.

Evicting a Tenant for Non-payment of Rent

The eviction process involves serving a formal notice, informing the tenant the rent is overdue, and he / she faces possible eviction, if they do not pay on time. If a landlord is not knowledgeable about the legal terms of a notice, there are pre-printed forms which fulfil all legal requirements for a proper notice. In case, the rent arrearage has not been paid after the legally defined period i.e. usually, about a week, a landlord can begin eviction proceedings on the basis of non-payment of rent.

Bear in mind, if the tenant makes a partial payment during the eviction process, in most jurisdictions the acceptance of any payment of rent, even a small amount, can result in dismissal of the eviction lawsuit for non-payment.

Lease Violation

When a tenant does not comply with the terms of the lease he / she signed, a landlord must provide a written warning, referring to the lease clause being violated, and allow him / her time to remedy the problem. This is so the tenant cannot later claim ignorance that he / she did not know, they were in violation of the lease, or they received no notice of the violation. The judge will be in favour of the landlord if it is established the tenant ignored a prior notice and the deadline.

Health and Safety Issues

Certain tenants may pose a health or safety problem for other tenants or for the property, in general. In many jurisdictions, it is permissible for the landlord to evict tenants whose conduct is hazardous to the health of other tenants or can damage the property. First of all, a landlord should serve the tenant with a fixed period of time notice (a week) to remedy or repair the problem, or else move out. If no corrective action is taken, a landlord can proceed with the eviction proceedings.

Even if a tenant resolves the issue, but you still want him / her out, serve them a notice on eviction on health or safety grounds, as well as, a notice stating their tenancy is being terminated.


In the event a tenant files for bankruptcy, an automatic stay prevents a landlord from continuing with the eviction proceedings until the bankruptcy is resolved, or the bankruptcy court permits eviction proceedings to continue by lifting the stay. This may require a motion to be brought before the bankruptcy court, asking for the stay to be lifted.

Tenant Counter-Claims

When a landlord begins eviction proceedings, some tenant may bring counter-claims against the landlord, such as, inadequate maintenance of property or violation of the lease, and may ask the court to stop eviction proceedings or else for a substantial rent decrease in arrearage owed.

This is why it is good practice to keep written records of any complaints received from tenants about the rental unit or common areas, and steps taken by the landlord to resolve them, as also with warnings of tenant misconduct. Remember a landlord’s can preclude a tenant’s claim that despite repeatedly complaining about a problem with their unit, the landlord failed to respond with positive action, as long as the landlord has kept records of all interaction with the tenant and of action taken.


Before going to court, a landlord must ensure all his documentation in relation to the case is in order and there is nothing missing. Unless a landlord is conversant with the rental laws of his state and has had enough experience in eviction cases, it is also advisable to engage a lawyer, well versed in property law of the state a landlord’s rental property resides in.

The above should provide you with enough knowledge of what is required for a successful eviction.

An Investor’s Checklist: Ask The Following Questions When Creating An Investment Strategy

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Since, bond investment like other investments must be tailored to meet your overall investment goals, risk tolerance capacity, and other individual circumstances, ask yourself some basic questions that will help you make a decision on the appropriate mix of securities that will deliver your investment objectives.

What is your current investment status? Ask yourself, what your current investment status is, whether you have any savings or investments, and if so what percentage of your investments are in savings accounts, money market funds, bonds, stocks, etc., whether investment in cash, bonds, bond funds are less than 15% or 20% of your total investments. Further, do you have a lump sum to invest and if you expect to invest on a regular basis.

Investment Status Perspective: It is recommended all investors should maintain a diversified investment portfolio made up of stocks, bonds and cash in varying percentages, depending on individual circumstances and investment objectives. Typically, older or retired people invest in a higher proportion of bonds, while, younger or first time investors should protect their investment portfolios by diversifying, so if one asset class is in a cyclical downtown, rising values of another asset class will offset the negative impact.

Investment Objectives:
Ask yourself what your investment objectives are, whether you wish your investments to provide income to meet current expenses, or save for your retirement, or the children’s college education, or accumulate or preserve your capital.

Investment Perspective:
Typically, bonds are predictably safe, providing interest payments and principal repayments, making them important for people who want to receive interest income or wish to preserve and accumulate capital. Those looking for a current income should invest in fixed interest rate bonds, as there are no changes in the interest rate till maturity, and interest is paid on a semi-annual basis.

However, for retirement savings, children’s education or capital accumulation goals, one should invest in zero coupon bonds, as they do not have periodic interest payments. This bond type sells, substantially discounted from face value, with the investor receiving a one time payment i.e. purchase price (principal) plus interest, which is compounded semi-annually at the original interest rate.

When You Need Your Money Back: An investor should ask himself / herself, when he / she needs the money back, whether a year from now, or five, ten, twenty or thirty years down the line.

Money Back Perspective: Your choice of bond maturity will depend on how soon you wish the principal to be repaid. As a rule, the longer the bond’s maturity date, the higher the return.

How Much Are You Willing To Risk? Ask yourself whether you want to risk very little, modestly or substantially?

Risk Perspective: All investments carry an element of risk, and when investing in bonds, it is important to remember your investment’s return is linked to its credit, as well as, market changes. The higher your return on bond investment, the higher the risk, while conversely, safe investments offer relatively lower returns. Your bond choice ranges from either the highest credit quality US Treasury securities, backed by the US government to below investment grade bonds, considered highly speculative. And, if you sell a bond before its maturity date, you receive the prevailing market price that could be more or less than the price you bought it for. Bond values fluctuate with the market in the opposite director of interest rates.

The bonds you purchase for your investment portfolio depend greatly on your risk tolerance capacity.

Impact of taxes on your investments: Check out what income bracket you fall in, as returns from bonds could have you paying higher taxes.

Tax Perspective: Certain bonds, such as, US Treasury bonds offer special tax advantages and there is no state or local income tax on the interest received from them. Neither is federal income tax is imposed on interest from municipal bonds, and in many cases they are exempt from state or local income tax, as well. When buying bonds, base your decision on your income tax bracket i.e. whether to invest in taxable bonds or tax-exempt bonds. The answer depends on your income tax bracket, and the difference between what can be earned from taxable versus tax-exempt securities, not only now, but also through the period until your bond matures. The decision, whether to invest in a taxable bond or a tax-exempt bond can, also depend on whether you will be holding the securities in an account that is already tax-preferred or tax-deferred, such as a pension account, 40l(k) or IRA. For example, a municipal bond will not bring you the tax benefits it otherwise might, if you hold it in a tax-deferred account.

Ask yourself what kind of bonds you should invest in? Whether, individual bonds, bond funds or unit investment trusts.

Type of Bonds Investment Perspective: There are number of ways to invest in bonds from buying individual bonds, bond funds or unit investment trusts. Generally, individual bonds are the best way to invest for preserving your capital; while, bond funds offer convenience and diversification even at minimum investment levels. The minimum investment for bond funds and UITs is typically between $1,000 and $2,500, and $500 for retirement accounts. Individual bonds are usually sold in $5,000 denominations and dealers will sometimes ask for a minimum investment of $20,000.

Once you have gotten your investment goals and objectives in perspective, you can with the help of an investment advisor diversity your investment portfolio to minimise your risk.

The Perfect Ten Tips To Identify And Handle Problem Tenants

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If a landlord finds himself / herself saddled with even one single problem tenant, you can be certain his / her life is going to become extremely difficult. The tenant /tenants may have appeared charming, but if you did not screen them or conduct a thorough background check, you may have just opened a can of worms for yourself. Not only can they give you a headache, cause endless trouble, rack up three or more months of past-due rent or damage your property, they can even skip off, without paying the rent or the bill. Stuck with a problem tenant or tenants, then here are a few tips that should help avoid renting to trouble makers, as well as, strategies on how to deal with them.

  1. ‘Everything in Writing’ should be your motto or mantra. Before taking on a prospective tenant, ask for references and follow up, ensuring they all pan out. Your rental agreement should have a clear code of conduct clause, as well as, one clearly specifying what action will be taken in the event of non-payment of rent, bad behaviour or damage to your property.
  2. Perform background checks on all prospective tenants prior to renting out to them. If a tenant has proved to be quite a handful, having taken advantage of even one landlord, you can be sure there well might be a record. There are tenant screening and background check services, such as, that you can use to provide you with background check information i.e. criminal records, etc., steps that help identify problem tenants in advance.
  3. Credit checks are as necessary as background checks. Apart from background checks, obtain information from applicants for performing a credit check. Get their name in full, social security numbers, including written permission from them allowing you to obtain their credit histories.
  4. Do not get taken in by sob stories, no matter how heart-breaking. A landlord must think with his / her head not his / her heart when deciding who should be taken on his / her tenant. There are many people, who are well-versed in cooking up the most heart rending stories, spinning yarns that have no element of truth in them.
  5. Be wary of inaccurate references. If references given by an applicant do not check out, you can be certain, there is something very wrong here. Often, references are given, counting on the fact that landlords will not follow up. Don’t make this mistake as a reference check may help deal with existing problem tenants.
  6. All late rental payments should be recorded. Record and document each late rental payment you receive, as it will assist and provide sufficient grounds, in the event, you have to serve notice for eviction.
  7. Pay heed to complaints or stories other tenants and neighbours may tell about your new tenant(s). If you do not live on site, you may not be aware of what goes on at your rental property. If a tenant or neighbour complains about the new tenant, listen to them, recording what is going on. For single family units, enlist the support of neighbours, asking them to report any strange or illegal activities that may go on, on your premises.
  8. A landlord should be wary and cautious about tenants unwilling to sign 6-month or 1-year lease terms. No one wishes to take on tenants, who will not be there after a few months, as a tenant who moves out quickly will only cause you to incur re-advertising and re-leasing costs, all within a very short frame of time.
  9. Be knowledgeable about what the rights of a landlord. Knowing your state laws will help deal with problem tenant situations, as well as, ensure you are not violating any fair housing acts by evicting a problem tenant.
  10. Don’t delay, act quickly. If you have problem tenants, get them out as soon as possible, as if their behaviour is allowed to continue, it can only become worse over time. Enforce the terms of your lease, stand your ground, document all problems and act swiftly.

As long as, a landlord has a written rental agreement, he / she can protect his / her property interests. And, it also gives you legal recourse, in case something should go wrong with a tenant or potential tenant. Avoid any mishaps or unwanted tenants by visiting for help with tenant screening and background checks, the best and only way to prevent expensive litigation or penalty charges later on.