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Do You Know Your Landlord Rights? 7 Things You Need to Know About Being a Landlord

Are you thinking about renting out property to earn a bit of passive income? Are you waiting to do so because you are worried about your landlord rights or protecting your property? 

We will tell you everything you need to know about the rights you have as a landlord–be it now or later. Keep reading for more information! 

Running Credit & Background Checks

Before allowing any tenant to move into your property, you have the right to run a credit and background check. You can decide not to rent to a tenant based on the results. 

If you run a credit and background check, be sure to get the proper permission from each tenant. Keep in mind that a poor credit report doesn’t always mean their rent hasn’t been paid. Many people skip paying other bills to ensure their rent is covered. 

A poor background check doesn’t have to be a disqualifier. Many people have made mistakes in the past and are trying to make things right. If you are uncomfortable with what you find, definitely consider another renter. 

Asking for References

Your rent application form likely has an area that requests references from previous landlords. If it does not, you can ask your potential tenant for their former landlord’s contact information. 

Once you have this information, you can call and ask about the tenant’s rental history. This information will give you an idea of whether this tenant will be a good match for you and your property. A few red flags include evictions, multiple complaints, or damaged property.

The Right to Entry

While there are tenants living in your property, you may enter the property with consent. Examples of the reason for entry would be to make repairs, inspect the home, perform repairs, or to show the property to potential tenants.

With this said, you must give two day’s notice and the entry must be at a reasonable time of day. The tenants need not be present for entry.

You may enter your rental property without notice under certain circumstances. These include abandonment the property, if there is a court order, or there is an emergency. An emergency may be natural disasters like flooding or a gas leak.  

Landlord Rights: Choosing to Allow Pets

If your rental property has always been pet-free, you may tell tenants that they may not have an animal. You also have a right to charge a non-refundable deposit or monthly pet rent. 

The exception to this is service animals. You may not refuse to rent to someone who requires one of these animals–and these animals are not considered pets. They are protected under the ADA and are not subject to extra fees. 

Should the service animal damage your property, act aggressively toward other tenants, or create too much noise you can take action. The service animal owner is financially responsible for damage a service animal may cause. In the case of bad behaviour, you can take steps to evict the service animal.

Emotional support animals do not fall under the ADA’s protection. As a landlord, you can choose not to accept emotional support animals in your rental property.

If your property receives Housing Choice Vouchers (formerly known as Section 8,) emotional support animals must be allowed. 

Subletting 

Should a tenant have to move due to work or finances, breaking their lease will cost them money. A lease is a contract between two people–one person guarantees a place to live in exchange for money. In most cases, a tenant who moves before the end of the lease period, is responsible for the rent from the time they move until the property is rented again.

To fulfill their lease obligations, the tenant may try to sublet the dwelling– find a replacement tenant. As a landlord, you may decline a subletter but this option allows for some flexibility if the tenant is required to move. 

If the subletter falls behind on rent or become unable to pay, the rent payments will still be the initial tenant’s responsibility. 

Agreed Upon Rent Payments

Before signing a lease, the tenant is made aware of what the monthly rent payments will be. As a landlord, you may determine when these payments are made, grace periods, and any late fees. 

You also may charge NSF (non sufficient funds) fees for any check that is returned unpaid. Should a tenant stop paying rent completely, you may begin the eviction process

Many landlords have a 3-5 day grace period that allows for a tenant who forgot their rent to pay without a financial penalty. However, this doesn’t mean a grace period is required. 

A Property Free of Major Damage

When you rent a home to a tenant, chances are it is in decent shape. You may have a fresh paint of coat on the walls, any dings or nail holes patched, and new or recently cleaned carpet. 

As tenants live in a home, inevitably, minor wear and tear will happen. However, anything more than typical wear and tear can be taken out of the initial deposit after written notice is given as to why.

If there isn’t enough money from the deposit to cover the damages, you must send a demand letter asking for payment to cover damages. There’s a decent chance that the tenant will not respond, at which point you may take them to small claims court. 

Being a Landlord Made Easy

Managing tenants and rental property can be difficult–even if you know and understand your landlord rights. This is especially true if you live out of town, have other business to attend to, or can’t physically keep up with repairs & maintenance.

If you have rental property but are struggling to find long-term tenants or don’t have time to take care of minor issues, a property management company may be a great option.

Contact us to find out how property management and tenant placement can help make your life easier!

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