Rent Receipts

Posted by on October 31, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Ques. Are tenants entitled to rent receipts?

Ans. The law in many American states requires landlords to offer tenants a receipt for rent paid. This is to protect those tenants who prefer to pay in cash, and who without a rent receipt, would have no other way of proving, they did indeed pay the rent, in the event, a landlord decides to challenge the issue.

A vast number of tenants these days prefer to make payments, either by cheque or credit card; yet, landlords in these states are still required to issue rental receipts, if the tenant requests it. Even, if the cheque bounces, the receipt given for that bounced cheque will not pose a problem in getting the tenant to pay up.

If, a tenant asks for a rental receipt, he / she probably needs it for tax purposes, as many states give tenants a ‘renter’s tax credit’, and they need the receipts to back up their deduction, while filing taxes. There is no need for a landlord to go into a tizzy, just because a tenant insists on getting a rental receipt. Go ahead and issue one, no harm in it!

However, a landlord need not worry about bounced cheques and can also avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and conducting background checks. Simply visit for tenant screening and background check services.

FAQs – Tenant Screening And Selection – Part II

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Ques. What kind of discrimination is considered illegal when choosing a tenant?
The Fair Housing Act has been enacted to keep a check on discriminatory practices in the rental housing business. Accordingly, fair housing laws lay down specify rejection of an applicant on the basis of his / her race, religion, ethnic background, gender, or because the applicant is disabled, or has young children, is considered illegal.

As well, certain state and local laws prohibit landlords from discriminating on the basis of a person’s marital status, sexual orientation, or age. As long as, landlord decisions comply with these laws and are based on legitimate business criteria, landlords are at liberty to make their own selection from among prospective tenants. For example, a landlord is entitled to reject any applicant who has a poor credit history, or insufficient income to meet the rental payments, or is he / she has a criminal record, and if an applicant has damaged property in the past, he / she can be considered as a bad risk. As well, a valid occupancy policy that limits the number of people per rental unit, and is clearly tied to health and safety, is also a legal basis for refusing a prospective tenant.

Selection standards, such as, requirement of a minimum income, including a good credit report, must be applied equally to all tenants.

Ques. What sort of subtle actions could be considered illegal discrimination on the part of a landlord?
The Fair Housing Acts prohibit landlords from taking any of the following actions based on race, religion, or any other protected / minority category:

  1. To falsely deny a rental unit to one applicant, while making it available to others.
  2. Group characteristic advertising that indicates a preference based on, perhaps, skin colour, nationality, etc.
  3. More restrictive standards, such as, higher income, for certain tenants.
  4. Refusal to reasonably accommodate the needs of disabled tenants i.e. guide or hearing dog, or other service animal.
  5. Different set of terms used for some tenants, such as, an inconsistent policy for responding to late rent payments, or
  6. Tenancy termination for discriminatory reasons.

Tax Deductions Landlords Can Avail Of

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While, no landlord should have to pay more than necessary for rental property utilities and other operating expenses, however, the truth is that millions of landlords end up paying more taxes on their rental income, than they need to. For the reason, they simply fail to take advantage of tax deductions that are available to owners of rental property.

Probably, this is due to the fact, they are not aware that rental real estate provides more tax benefits than almost any other kind of investment. If, a landlord knows how to take advantage of these benefits, often it makes the entire difference between losing money and earning profit from a rental property. However, tax deductions are useless, if one does not take advantage of them. Small residential rental property owners can apply for the following top ten tax deductions:

  1. Interest: A landlord’s single biggest deductible expense, landlords are permitted to deduct mortgage interest payments on loans used to acquire or improve rental property, including interest on credit cards for goods or services required in rental activity.
  2. Depreciation: The actual cost of a house, apartment building, or other rental property is not fully deductible in the year it is bought and paid for. Instead, landlords can get back the cost of real estate through depreciation, by deducting a portion of the cost of the property over several years, as residential rental property must be depreciated over 27.5-years.
  3. Repairs: The cost of necessary repairs to rental property can be fully deducted in the year in which they are incurred, as long as they are reasonable in amount. Good examples of deductible repairs. include repainting, fixing gutters or floors, fixing leaks, plastering, and replacing broken windows.
  4. Local travel: Any travel by a landlord, such as, driving to a rental building to deal with tenant complaints, or a trip to the hardware store to purchase repair items for a rental property can be deducted as travel expenses, since landlords are entitled to a tax deduction, whenever they drive anywhere for completed errands that relate to their rental activity. They can deduct either actual expenses i.e. gasoline, upkeep, repairs or they can use the standard mileage rate e.g. 44.5 cents per mile in 2006; 48.5 cents per mile Sept. – Dec. 2005; and 40.5 cents per mile from Jan. – Aug. 2005.
  5. Long distance travel: If, a landlord’s rental activity involves overnight travel, airfare, hotel bills, meals, and other expenses can be deducted as business expenses. To stay within the law, landlords must document properly long distance travel expenses, while combining business with pleasure.
  6. Home office: Provided certain minimal requirements are met, landlords can deduct home office expenses from their taxable income, such as, space devoted to office work, or to a workshop, or any other home workspace used for their rental business.
  7. Employees and independent contractors: If, a landlord hires anyone’s professional services for his / her rental business, he / she can deduct their wages as a rental business expense.
  8. Casualty and theft losses: If, a landlord’s rental property is damaged or destroyed by fire or flood, he / she can obtain a tax deduction for all or part of their loss. Called a casualty loss, the entire cost of property damaged or destroyed by a casualty cannot be deducted, but how much can be, depends on the property area that is destroyed, and whether the loss was covered by insurance.
  9. Insurance: Premiums for almost any kind of insurance that covers a landlord’s rental activity can be deducted e.g. fire, theft, flood insurance for rental property, as well as landlord liability insurance. If, a landlord has several employees, the cost of their health and workers’ compensation insurance can also be deducted as a rental business expense.
  10. Legal and professional services: Finally, lawyers, accountants, property management companies, real estate investment advisors, and other professional fees can also be deducted as operating expenses, as they are paid for work related to rental activities.

Different Kinds of Legal Costs

Posted by on October 26, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

One may well ask, why all the dribble about lawyers and legal fees / costs? It is only to make a point and drive home the importance of tenant screening and background checks. Litigation can prove to be more expensive, than if one were to spend a little time and effort on vetting potential tenants. And, as landlords will find, apart from lawyer’s fees, there are other legal costs that add considerably to the expense of going to court.

The amount a lawyer charges for legal services may include his / her fees, plus additional expenses and costs. If, the lawyer represents you in a court proceeding, there are filing fees or other court costs to be paid, as well.

You will find a number of costs that appear on your lawyer’s bill, while some lawyers may charge separately for these costs; others may group these expenses together as separate items on your bill, while still others may include some of these costs in their fee. Before hiring a lawyer, find out if these types of costs are included, and whether they will be itemised on your bill. In addition, to paying for the lawyer’s time, you will also be required to pay for filing fees and court costs, photo-copying, telephone and postage charges, paralegal time, messengers, if used, computer or research related costs, secretarial and staff time, deposition and court reporter costs, facsimiles (faxes), experts, consultants, and witness fees, investigators, process servers (delivery of legal documents relating to case), travel expenses.

The costs of going to court are many and there may be other charges that have not been listed above. It is a good idea to get the lawyer to give you a written estimate of anticipated costs to ensure you understand all the different costs that you may be required to pay. One can get an estimate, as there is a set rate for certain costs, such as, the cost of photo-copying fixed at $0.15 per page.

However, if going to court cannot be avoided, one can limit costs from building up, by informing one’s lawyer, any costs over a certain amount have to be approved by you in advance. Quite possible, one may also be able to negotiate the amount charged for many of these costs, in advance.

However, at the cost of repeating oneself, landlords can and should avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, conducting background checks, simply by visiting for tenant screening and background check services.

Advertising Rental Property

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There are many different ways a landlord can advertise his / her rentals property. The kind of advertising that works best depends on numerous factors that include property characteristics, location, landlord’s budget, and whether he / she is in a hurry to rent. There are many combinations of advertising methods landlords and property managers use to achieve the best results, some of which are as under.

1. ‘For Rent’ Signs

The most common method of advertising is the putting up of a ‘For Rent’ sign, either in front of the building, or in one of the windows. A relatively cost-free method, it works best if a lot of foot and motor traffic goes past the building. It also helps if the building is as attractive as the rental unit.

2. Advertising in the Newspapers

As much of a tradition as ‘For Rent’ signs, newspaper ads are also available online, if the paper has an online version. Many potential tenants begin their search for a place to rent by scanning the classified ads in newspapers, while, out-of-towners can log on online to the local paper from wherever they are. Ads should always be placed in papers having many residential listings, as it has been found they work best.

And, they should be targeted to produce the right kind of prospective tenants i.e. if a landlord primarily rents out to college students, the best bet is to advertise in the campus newspaper or put up a ‘For Rent’ sign in the housing office. To play it safe, it is also a good idea to list the rental in a general newspaper, as well.

3. Neighbourhood Flyers

As well, a landlord can post ads on neighbourhood public bulletin boards to be found at grocery stores, Laundromats or coffeehouses, complete with tear-off strips listing their phone number. However, if the property is upscale, this is not the best way to advertise for it, though there might be takers at the high-end gym down the street.

4. Listing Online

Online rental services have mushroomed like crazy in recent years, from national in scope, to regional. After finding a residential rental listing for your area, you can add your property to it.

5. Home Or Apartment Finding Services

Home or apartment-finding services are very popular in some areas, with landlords paying to list their properties, though sometimes it is the tenants themselves, who pay the fee when the unit is rented.

6. Spreading the Word

Small-time landlords instead of advertising widely and screening potential tenants, find it easier to market their rentals through word-of-mouth i.e. telling friends, colleagues, neighbours, and current tenants. After all, people already living on your property will invite decent neighbours. So, when a property becomes vacant, simply send a note around to every one, asking them to tell friends or relatives about the available apartment.

7. Real Estate Offices

Many real estate offices handle rentals, but of course, there is a fee involved.

8. Property Management Firms

Going through a property management firm is the easiest way to do it. They handle advertising, showing tenants around, as well as, selecting tenants, collecting rents, and interacting with residents during tenancies (handling repairs, etc. etc.). A paid service, it is for landlords with large rental properties and no time to spare.

Next Steps

Once, the advertising has been done, the next step is to create a rental application and select a tenant. When advertising vacancies and selecting and rejecting applicants, read up on the Fair Housing Act, so as to avoid any inadvertent lawsuits. Evaluate prospective tenants by thoroughly checking out their rental applications, legal residency forms, and tenant consent forms for contacting references, performing credit checks and criminal and background checks.

The only way to avoid unnecessary litigation is by screening prospective tenants and conducting background checks. Simply visit for tenant screening and background check services.

FAQs – Tenant Screening And Selection – Part I

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Ques. Is there a best way for landlords to screen prospective tenants?
Of course, there is, and that is to do what all business savvy landlords do i.e. always ask each prospective tenant to fill out a written rental application that includes the following detailed information:

  1. Employment, income, and credit histories.
  2. Social Security and driver’s license numbers.
  3. Past evictions or bankruptcies, if any.
  4. Work and personal references.

Before selecting tenants, a landlord should check out and verify previous landlords and other references; including employment, income and bank account information; as well as, obtaining a credit report. The last is especially important, because it informs one, whether the person concerned has a history of late rent and bill payments, or whether he / she has ever declared bankruptcy, or even been evicted, ever.

Ques. Do landlords and property managers allowed to obtain prospective tenants credit reports?
Most certainly, they can, and they do have the authority to ask for and obtain a prospective tenant’s credit report. As well, it is to be borne in mind, if a tenant’s rental application has been turned down, because of negative information on a credit report, they have to send the applicant an ‘adverse action’ letter, informing the applicant of three things:

  1. Reason for rejecting the applicant.
  2. Name and address of the agency reporting the negative information, and
  3. Applicant’s right to obtain a free copy of the report from that agency, by requesting it within 60-days.

In order to run a credit check, the following information is needed:

  • a prospective tenant’s name, address,
  • Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

Ques. What is the purpose behind landlords using written rental applications?
Written rental applications can protect landlords from lawsuits filed by irate applicants who may have been rejected as tenants.

For example, if a landlord screens 6-potential tenants before renting one of his / her units, to Applicant #6, feeling he / she is most likely to be the most reliable in rent payments. However, a couple of weeks down the line, a lawyer representing Applicant #3 calls the landlord claiming his / her client claims she was discriminated against, because of her status as a single mother of African-American origin. The landlord is asked to pay $10,000 to settle the matter, or else be sued for $50,000in federal court.

If, the landlord has no written documentation to back up his / her selection of Applicant #6, it is most likely his / her insurance carrier will propose paying up, otherwise, as the insurance company points out, it will look bad in court that a white male with no children was selected over an African-American single mother, with a higher-paying job.

If, a landlord can produce all the applicants’ written applications, their credit reports, and references from previous landlords, the result would likely be different. There would be written documentation to support the selection of Applicant #6 i.e. his credit history and job stability, which are far better than that of Applicant #3, as there was not only poor feedback received from previous landlords, but despite her current employment, had just recently declared bankruptcy.

The best and only way to avoid unnecessary litigation is by screening prospective tenants and conducting background checks. Simply visit for tenant screening and background check services.

FAQs – Landlord Liability / Insurance Regarding Tenant Injuries

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It is important for a landlord to protect himself / herself from tenant injuries liability.

Ques. When is a landlord liable for injury to a tenant or a visitor to the rental property?
Ans. For a landlord or a property manager to be held responsible for an injury on the premises, both should have been negligent in maintaining the property, and the resultant injuries should be the direct outcome of that negligence. An injured tenant or visitor to the rental property will have to prove the following if the landlord is to be held liable:

1. The landlord was responsible for maintaining the portion of premises that caused the accident.
2. No reasonable steps were taken by the landlord to avert the accident.
3. There was no unreasonable expense or difficulty involved in fixing the problem, or at the very minimum giving adequate warnings.
4. The accident was foreseeable, and a serious injury was the probable consequence of not fixing the problem.
5. Sheer negligence on the part of the landlord is the raison d’etre behind the accident.
6. The injury is genuine.

For example, a fall on the broken from step leads to the tenant breaking his ankle, the landlord will be held liable, if the tenant can prove the following:

1. The landlord was responsible for maintaining the steps, which is usually the case, as steps are part of the common area.
2. Failure on the part of the landlord to take reasonable measures to maintain the steps (for days or weeks.
3. Repairing the steps would not have been a tough or expensive proposition, as fixing broken steps is a relatively minor job.
4. Tripping and falling on broken steps is highly likely, and the probable result of a broken step is a serious injury, completely foreseeable.
5. The tenant must be able to prove that he / she tripped and fell on the rental properties broken steps, thereby breaking his / her ankle.
6. The injury is genuine and the tenant is seriously hurt.

If, a tenant can prove all that, then most likely he / she will file a personal injury lawsuit for medical bills, lost earnings, pain and other physical suffering, permanent physical disability and disfigurement, and emotional distress. Therefore, a landlord in order to avoid any problems should keep the property in excellent condition by:

1. Using a written checklist to inspect the premises and fixing any problems before new tenants move in.
2. Tenants should be encouraged to immediately report safety or security problems such as plumbing, heating, broken doors or steps, whether in the rental unit or in common areas, such as, hallways and parking garages.
3. A written log regarding tenant complaints and repair requests, with details as to how and when problems were fixed should be kept.
4.Repairs should be handles on a priority basis, with all safety issues taken care of within 24 hours. Tenant should be kept informed as to when and how the repairs will be carried out.
5.Tenants should be given twice yearly checklists on which to report any potential safety hazards or maintenance problems, which may have been overlooked. The checklist should be used to personally inspect all rental units once a year.

In addition, all responsibilities for repair and maintenance should be clearly set out in the lease or rental agreement.

Ques. How will insurance protect a rental property business?

Ans. A well-designed property insurance policy will cover property losses caused by fire, storms, burglary, and vandalism. Typically, earthquake and flood insurance are separate.

It is best for a landlord to take out a comprehensive general liability (‘CGL’) policy, which will provide liability insurance, covering injuries or losses suffered by others, as the result of defective conditions on the property. Equally important, liability insurance covers the legal cost of defending personal injury lawsuits.

The following tips should help in selecting the right kind of insurance:

* Enough coverage should be purchased to protect the value of the property and assets.

* The policy should also cover physical injury, libel, slander, discrimination, unlawful and retaliatory eviction, and invasion of privacy.

However, landlords can and should avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, conducting background checks, simply by visiting for tenant screening and background check services.

Different Kinds of Legal Fees

Posted by on October 24, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

When you hire a lawyer for your landlord-tenant issues, the kind of fee arrangement arrived at has a significant impact on what is to be paid for his / her services. Legal fees hinge on several factors, i.e.

  • A lawyer’s ability, experience and reputation.
  • Novelty and toughness of the case.
  • Duration of the case.
  • Costs involved, and
  • Outcome of the case.

As well, other factors, such as, the lawyer’s overhead expenses i.e. rent, utilities, office equipment, computers, etc. may also have a direct bearing on the fees charged.

Lawyers use several common types of fee arrangements, as follows:

  1. Consultation Fee: Lawyers may charge a fixed or hourly fee for the first meeting, during the course of which it is determined, whether he / she can assist you or not. Check before hand, if you are going to be charged for this initial or consultation meeting.
  2. Contingency Fees: In this kind of fee arrangement, lawyers base their fees on the percentage of the amount awarded in a case. If, you lose, the lawyer does not get a fee, although, you will still have to pay his / her expenses. Contingency fee percentages vary, however the most common amount is of one-third. Some lawyers offer a sliding scale based on how far along the case has progressed, before it reaches its conclusion.However, courts are allowed to set a limit on the amount of contingency fees, a lawyer may receive. Typically, contingency fee arrangements are used in personal injury cases, property damage cases, or other cases where large sums of money are involved. Again, the court may prohibit lawyers from making contingency fee arrangements in certain case types, such as, criminal and child custody matters. And, contingency fees can not be charged for divorce cases, if the client is being sued, or if the client is seeking general legal advice, perhaps, on the purchase or sale of a business.
  3. Flat Fees: A lawyer charges a total fee, or flat fee, which is usually offered for relatively simple or routine cases, such as, relating to wills or uncontested divorces.
  4. Hourly Rate: In this kind of fee arrangement, lawyers charge for each hour (or portion of an hour) spent on working on a client’s case. Take for example, if the lawyer’s fee is $100 per hour, and he / she works 5-hours on a case, $500 will be the fee charged. Some lawyers may charge different fees for different types of work e.g. legal research vs. court appearance. In addition, lawyers working in large firms typically have different fee scales with more senior members charging higher fees than young associates or paralegals.
  5. Referral Fee: If, a lawyer refers a client to another lawyer, he / she may ask for a portion of the total fee paid for the case. However, applicable state codes of professional responsibility may prohibit referral fees, unless certain criteria are met.
  6. Retainer Fees: The lawyer is paid a set fee, i.e. a retainer, perhaps based on his / her hourly rate. Retainer fees can be considered a kind of down payment, against which future costs are billed. Usually, the retainer is placed in a special account, and service costs are deducted, as they accrue. Mostly, retainer fees are non-refundable, unless deemed unreasonable by a court.As well, a retainer fee can also mean the lawyer is on call to handle a client’s legal problems over a period of time. Retainer fees can mean several different things; therefore, it is a good idea to clarify the arrangement with your lawyer in detail.
  7. Statutory Fee: This kind of fee is usually paid in probate, bankruptcy or other proceedings, and in some cases may be set by statute, or a court may set and approve a fee to be paid by a client.

Whatever, kind of fee arrangement you arrive at, always ask what costs and other expenses are covered in legal fees. Whether, they include overheads and costs, or will they be charged separately? Whether, costs for staff, such as, secretaries, messengers, or paralegal will be charged, as well? In contingency fee arrangements, ensure whether the lawyer will calculate the fee before or after expenses.

FAQs –Lead Disclosures For Rental Property A Must

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Before renting out or renovating their rental property, landlords are required to disclose lead-based paint or other environmental hazards, as they may be held liable for tenant health problems resulting from exposure to lead or asbestos.

Ques. Does a landlord have any legal responsibilities towards tenants regarding lead content on his / her rental property?
When it was found lead poisoning caused serious health problems, the information led to the 1992 enactment of the Residential Lead-Based Paint Hazard Reduction Act, commonly known as Title X (Ten). The implementation of Title X by Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations applies to all rental property built before 1978.

Title X ensures landlords must disclose all lead-based paint and hazards on their property to tenants, before leases or rental agreements are signed or renewed. It requires both landlord and tenant to sign an EPA-approved disclosure form, as proof the tenant has been informed of the presence of lead on the premises. These disclosure forms must be kept by property owners for a minimum of three years from the date a tenancy begins.

Failure to comply with EPA regulations can result in landlords being slapped with penalties of up to $10,000 for each violation. And, if a landlord is found liable for a tenant’s health issues, direct outcome of exposure to lead, he / she may have to pay a steep price in damages.

Ques. Are certain rental properties exempt from Title X lead disclosure regulations?
If, the following applies to your rental property, then Title X does not cover them:

  1. Any housing that was built after obtaining a construction permit or one built after 1st January 1978.
  2. If, the rental property is a loft, efficiency, or a studio apartment.
  3. Short-term vacation rentals of 100-days or less are not governed by Title X.
  4. Single room rentals in private residences.
  5. Any housing that has received a lead free certification from a state-accredited lead inspector.
  6. Housing designed for disabled individuals, unless a child less than 6-years of age is expected to live with them.
  7. Retirement communities i.e. housing designed for seniors, where one or more tenants is, at least 62 years old, unless children under six are present or expected to live there.

Ques. Does a landlord have to make a lead disclosure when going in for renovations of his / her rental property?
Yes, it is important a landlord, in accordance with EPA regulations, begins renovation of occupied rental units or common areas in buildings constructed before 1978, after informing current tenants of lead hazard, at least 60-days before beginning to renovate. EPA regulations define renovation as any change that disturbs painted surfaces, with some exceptions, such as, minor repairs and emergency renovations. Developed under the federal Toxic Substances Control Act, these regulations became effective in June 1999.

Before beginning renovation of an occupied rental unit, the landlord or contractor must provide the unit’s occupant with a copy of the EPA pamphlet entitled: “Protect Your Family From Lead in Your Home.” In case common areas will also be affected, notices must be distributed to every rental unit in the building, with a description of the nature and location of renovation work, including dates work is expected to begin and end.

Apart from lead, property owners are also liable for tenant health problems related to other environmental hazard exposure, such as, asbestos. Regulations issued by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sets strict standards for testing, maintenance, and disclosure of asbestos in buildings constructed before 1981.

While, landlords avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, by conducting background checks, by visiting for tenant screening and background check services, they must ensure their own carelessness does not result in being sued for health problems by tenants.

Legal Fee Agreements

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If, you are a landlord with extensive rental property, sooner or later, you are bound to end up in need of legal assistance. Once you have zeroed in on a lawyer with extensive experience on landlord-tenant and rental property issues, it would be a good idea to discuss and agree upon fees and fee arrangement, during your initial meeting with him / her. The fee agreement should clearly set out services expected of the lawyer, type of fees, and what the lawyer expects you to pay. As well, the agreement should identify the handling of costs, including an explanation of the lawyer’s billing practices.

While, discussing lawyer fees and costs, you should cover the following topics:

  1. Type of Fee Arrangement: How is the lawyer going to bill you? Will he / she bill you on an hourly basis, or is it a contingency fee arrangement, or will you have to pay a retainer fee?
  2. Permissible Cost Types: It should be absolutely clear which costs are to be passed on to you e.g. whether you will pay for photocopying, if so how much per page? Will electronic research charges be reversed to you? Before proceeding, ascertain you both are in agreement as to the costs to be paid by you, and the rate at which you will pay them.
  3. Fees and Costs Estimation: If, you are hiring a lawyer for an eviction case or some such matter, find out what the case will cost? The exact amount of time and effort required to handle your case may not be easily determined, but the lawyer should be in a position to give you a fair estimate of both fees and costs based upon past experience.
  4. Frequency and Detail of Billing: Also, find out how often the billing will be done and, whether interest or other charges will be added to unpaid amounts. Ensure your lawyer’s bills include service details along with itemisation of costs. In case, the lawyer is working on a contingency arrangement, you need to know how often he / she will bill you for costs, and when you will receive payment for favourably resolved cases.
  5. Basic Charges: In case, your lawyer charges by the hour, find out the minimum billing segment, whether it is one-quarter or one-tenth of an hour, or what? For example, you may be billed for a tenth of an hour (six minutes), just for a simple three minute telephone call. Check with the lawyer, whether work done by others i.e. associates, legal assistants, or paralegals, will also be billed to you.
  6. Control: Check out how much control you will have over legal fees and expenses? In case you want to be notified after fees and expenses reach a certain amount, let the lawyer know, the same goes for notification before the lawyer incurs an expense over a certain amount?

Take notes during your meeting with the lawyer, in order to be aware of what has been agreed upon, and based on your discussions, the fee arrangement should be put in writing. Most lawyers have pre-printed fee agreements to be signed by clients. If, the agreement does not include the terms discussed, ask the lawyer to change the phrasing, ensuring the agreement states clearly what has been agreed upon by both you and the lawyer.

However, landlords can avoid unnecessary litigation by screening prospective tenants and employees, as well as, conducting background checks, simply by visiting for tenant screening and background check services.