An increasing number of people are testing the water as a first-time landlord. While renting out a home is an excellent way to generate extra income, it is vital for owners to understand the law as it applies to their situation. Failing to understand and follow state law and federal regulations can lead to serious problems for someone who is a first-time landlord.
Get It In Writing
Any rental agreement needs to be in writing in order for it to stand up in a court of law. As a landlord, it is essential that you can provide tenants with a written rental agreement that’s in accordance with the letter of the law. While it is possible to use standardized contracts, it is nearly always better to work with an attorney to draft a rental agreement that is specifically suited to your unique situation.
Beware of Landlord Discrimination
State and federal law make it a crime to discriminate against tenants or prospective tenants based on their age, gender, race, religion, national origin or disability. Moreover, a landlord cannot discriminate against families with children even if they would prefer to rent to adults only. One of the few limitations a landlord can request is that the number of occupants be kept below a certain number, which is usually two per bedroom.
Get a Court Order
Many a first-time landlord has mistakenly believed that they can simply change the locks on the property when a tenant fails to pay their rent. The law protects tenants against unfair actions, and this means that the landlord must get a court order and go through a legal eviction process. It takes more time, but it is always sensible and less costly for a landlord to operate within the bounds of the law to ensure ongoing success.