Tenant Evictions On Grounds Of Lease Violation

Posted by on December 7, 2006 under Eviction | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Often, landlords are trapped in tenant / landlord situations that has them wrestling with a number of issues from non-rent paying tenants to lease violations, to creating situations, which makes it unwise to continue a landlord-tenant relationship. While, laws governing evictions can vary significantly state wise or locally, landlords who find themselves in the above-quoted unpleasant situations will find the following suggestions helpful.

If, you own several housing units, then you would be wise to retain a lawyer, who will not only advise you on eviction issues, but also handle all legal action. Make a flat fee arrangement, rather than having to pay for each new case, which is a far more expensive way to go.

Lease Violation
It is always a good idea on the part of a tenant to review the lease to check if the accusation of violating a lease provision is correct. In the event, the tenant is in violation of the lease, he / she should consider either rectifying the violation, or discuss making an exceptional case, or negotiate with the landlord about the possibility of an amicable termination of the lease. At this point, it is best to note that lease violation means, a landlord can evict you, as well as, charge rent for the period following your eviction, up to the lease expiry date or till a replacement tenant is found.

Take for example, if there is a No Pets clause in the lease, why not negotiate an additional cleaning fee or monthly rent premium paid to the landlord for his / her permission to keep the pet. Or, as it truly happened, a tenant in exchange for being allowed to keep her cat, made a deal with her landlord to live in an apartment with tattered carpeting. The landlord saved on the cost of replacing worn out carpeting, without having to worry about the cat damaging a carpet already due for replacement.

On that cautionary note, another fair bit of advice, avoid expensive landlord / tenant litigation, by taking necessary precautions, such as, screening tenants and conducting background checks on prospective tenants. A simple click of the mouse and any landlord or property manager can visit www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services. www.e-renter.com, the best tenant screening agency in America!

Avoiding Fair Housing Complaints / Litigation While Selecting Tenants

Posted by on December 6, 2006 under Tenant Credit Checks | icon: commentComments are off for this article

The government has legislated both federal and state anti-discrimination laws that put a check on landlords, and limit what they can say or do, while selecting tenants for their rental properties. When choosing tenants ensure you adhere to the best practices explained below.

  1. Always, check income, credit history, including work, landlord, and personal references. These days running a credit check requires only a minimal fee. As well, it is important to check on tenant references by phoning them, especially, previous and present landlords. And, it is always a good idea to verify an applicant’s employment, income, including bank account information. You should always be consistent in your screening process, including making it a policy, to always ask every applicant for his / her credit report, and not just singling out single parents or people belonging to a specific nationality or ethnic group.
  2. All decisions should be made, based on business reasons. Every landlord is legally free to choose from among prospective tenants, so long as their decisions are based on legitimate business criteria, and not personal reasons. Applicants with bad credit histories, insufficient income to pay the rent, or unruly past behaviour, such as, being consistently late in paying their rent, or holding loud and noisy parties, or causing costly property damage, can be safely rejected since all things combined make them a bad risk. And, it goes without saying that a landlord can legally refuse to rent to an applicant, who is unable to come up with the security deposit, or meet any other condition of the tenancy.
  3. Acquire a through understanding of fair housing rules. Fair housing laws clearly specify the reasons that can be considered illegal, when refusing to rent to a tenant. Forty-two US Code 3601, 3619, 3631 of the Federal Fair Housing Acts, make it clear that it is prohibited to discriminate on grounds of race, religion, national origin, gender, age, family status, physical or mental disability (including recovering alcoholics and people with past drug addiction histories). There are certain states and cities that also make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation.
  4. If, you are the owner of large rental properties like apartment complexes, then you must make it a point to train your staff to understand the Fair Housing rules, as well. All property owners, landlords, managers and real estate agents, including their employees, while dealing with prospective tenants must adhere to fair housing laws during the selection process. Property owners are and should be held legally responsible for their employees’ discriminatory statements or conduct, including sexual harassment.
  5. Consistency is the key. Being consistent is of paramount importance and absolutely crucial when dealing with prospective tenants. If all tenants are not treated more or less equally i.e. tougher standards are set and used randomly, while renting to members of a racial minority. This way, you are not only violating federal laws, but opening yourself up to lawsuits. Lowering the security deposit amount for some people, but not for others, opens you to the risk of being slapped with charges of discrimination from other tenants.

Subtle Landlord Discrimination Is Still Illegal

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The Fair Housing Acts legislated by the government and valid in all states across the country prohibits landlords from engaging in discriminatory behaviour on the basis of race, religion, or any other protected group:

  • To falsely deny a rental unit is unavailable to some applicants
  • To advertise in a manner that indicates clear preference based on group characteristics i.e. skin colour, or
  • To set a more restrictive standard, such as higher income for certain tenants
  • Refusing to make reasonable accommodation for disabled tenant needs, such as, permission for permitting guide or hearing dogs, including any other service animal.
  • To set different terms for certain tenants, such as, adoption of an inconsistent policy of responding to late rent payments, or
  • Of terminating a tenancy for a discriminatory reason.

On that cautionary note, another fair bit of advice, avoid expensive landlord / tenant litigation, by taking necessary precautions, such as, screening tenants and conducting background checks on prospective tenants. A simple click of the mouse and any landlord or property manager can visit www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services. www.e-renter.com, the best tenant screening agency in America!

Illegal Tenant Discrimination

Posted by on December 5, 2006 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

There are state laws that ensure landlords do not discriminate against tenants when renting out their property. Therefore, as a landlord it behoves you to follow the state’s fair housing laws that specify, it is illegal to refuse to rent to a tenant, or reject an applicant on the basis of his / her race, religion, ethnic background, sex, or even because the applicant comes with children or a disability. As well, there are some state and local laws that prohibit discrimination on the ground’s of a person’s age, marital status or sexual orientation.

A landlord can freely choose from amongst prospective tenants, so long as his / her decision complies with fair housing laws and choice of tenant is based on legitimate business criteria. For example, it is perfectly legal for a landlord to reject someone who carries a poor credit history, is the recipient of insufficient income, and therefore, may not be able to pay the rental amount asked by you. Or, if past behaviour, such as, damaging property, etc., which no doubt, makes the individual a bad risk. Another, legal basis for refusing tenants is the valid occupancy policy that limits people count per rental unit, and is clearly tied to reasons of health and safety.

Landlords must keep in mind that selection standards, such as minimum income and good credit report are applied equally to all tenants.

Best Tenant Screening Method

Posted by on December 1, 2006 under Tenant Screening & Background Checks | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

Want to check out and screen prospective tenants before renting your property out, then the only thing for a smart ‘n savvy landlord is to ask them to fill out written rental applications, including the following information:

  1. Ask for landlord and employment references.
  2. Get their Social Security Number. If, they are hesitant to give this number, get their
  3. Driver’s License Number.
  4. Get their employment, income and credit history.
  5. As well, past evictions or bankruptcies, if any.

Before selecting tenants, always check with your prospective tenant’s previous landlords, including references given. Don’t forget to verify employment, income, and bank account information. Another good check point is to get the rental applicant’s credit report. The last is, especially important, as it provides information, as to whether the rental applicant has a tract record of late rent / bill payment, or has been through bankruptcy, or even been evicted.

Follow your state’s fair housing laws strictly to avoid any trouble later on. Always, be fair and consistent in your tenant screening process, for instance, it should be your policy to ask all applicants for their credit reports. This way, no one can sue you for showing some bias in selecting your tenant

Pulling A Prospective Tenant’s Credit Report

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Landlords are continuously being warned that they should screen prospective tenants before renting out to them. As well, they are advised to screen tenants, and one screening option available to them, is to obtain a prospective tenant’s credit report. However, the question arises, whether landlords or property managers have permission to pull a prospective tenant’s credit report?

Yes, most certainly, landlords or property managers are entitled to obtain credit reports for any prospective tenant. But, do remember, in case an applicant is turned down, as a result of negative information reported on a credit report, landlords should be procedurally correct by sending the applicant a letter advising him / her that his / her rental application has been turned down, apprising him / her of the following:

  1. Why you rejected the applicant.
  2. The name and address of the agency responsible for the negative information report, and
  3. The applicant’s right to obtain a free copy of the report by requesting it from the agency within 60-days.

In order to run a credit check on the prospective tenant, his / her name, address, including Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is necessary. Armed with this information, a credit report can be ordered from a credit reporting agency. In turn, the agency will get the report from any one of the three major national credit bureaus.

To find a credit reporting agency operating in your local area, one can go through the Yellow Pages listings, or surf the Internet.

A fair bit of advice for both landlords and tenants, do avoid expensive landlord / tenant litigation! Tenants should ensure all promises are put down in writing, and landlords can take necessary precautions, such as, screening tenants and conducting background checks on prospective tenants. A simple click of the mouse and any landlord or property manager can visit www.e-renter.com for tenant screening and background check services. www.e-renter.com, the best tenant screening agency in America! On the other hand, tenants can be on their best behaviour!