Top Ten Legal Mistakes Landlords Make – Part I

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on March 21, 2007 under Landlord Tenant Lawsuits | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

It is crucial for landlords to be aware of state laws governing rental businesses before renting out their property. Not only, do successful landlords have loads of practical know-how, as also business moxie, along with being familiar with the market. Thirty-years ago, the rental business was unrelated to law, however, today federal and state laws closely regulate nearly every aspect of it. Ignorance about the rules can land a landlord in serious legal hot water; therefore, it is best to avoid making the following top ten mistakes made by most landlords:

  1. Using Generic or Outdated Lease Forms
    As every landlord knows, it is of the utmost importance to draw up a written lease or rental agreement, before allowing tenants to move in. However, if a wrong form is used, it can land a landlord into big trouble. That is why; landlords are advised to steer clear of so-called ‘standard’ forms sold everywhere, as it is more than probable they are not compliant with state laws. Using a stationery store lease that short-cuts tenants’ rights may well see you losing your tenant eviction lawsuit, due to an unenforceable lease clause. On the other hand, some standard forms actually impose greater obligations and restrictions on landlords than the state laws! For example, there are standard lease forms that require landlords to return security deposits within ten days. That is incorrect and no state requires it.Therefore, avoid making this mistake, either brush up your knowledge of state and federal laws or hire a lawyer to draw up a water-tight lease for you.
  2. Asking the Wrong Questions During Applicant Screening
    Whilst, tenant screening is the most important aspect of a rental business, there are limits to the kind of questions that may be asked of prospective applicants. Asking a disabled person about his / her disability, or if a couple is married, may be questions asked in all innocence, but they could be misconstrued as illegal forms of discrimination. In case, you turn down the applicant on other grounds and the rejection has nothing to do with the offending question, a disappointed tenant has sufficient ammunition to lodge a fair housing complaint. Play it safe and steer clear of sensitive topics and issues.

That apart, landlords should make themselves cognisant with all rules and regulations before drafting tenancy leases or rental agreements. They must also take all necessary precautions, such as, tenant screenings, background checks on prospective tenants, including making certain all rental lease clauses are adhered to, as insurance for a litigation free landlord / tenant relationship. A simple click of the mouse and any landlord or property manager can visit for their tenant screening and background check services., the best tenant screening agency in America!

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