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Protect Yourself as a Landlord

Updated on June 21, 2013

Property for Rent

Many legal rammifications come about when renting property.
Many legal rammifications come about when renting property. | Source

Precautions a Landlord Must Take

As a landlord, it is possible not only to go unpaid for rent and utilities, but poor tenants can cause major damage to a property.

To mitigate the possibility of damage, a landlord should always collect a deposit as collateral for potential damage to the property and provide a receipt valid in your state.

It's important to specify in writing your expectations of the tenant regarding monthly or weekly rent, penalties for late payment, what utilities the tenant will pay and many more items, also using documents that are legally valid in your state.

A landlord needs to know if damage of any sort has happened to the property, so that the problem can be resolved. Common problems include plumbing that develops a leak, gutters that become clogged, etc., that the landlord is expected to take care of out of the rent money.

More often than not, resolving any damage right away will prevent more accumulation of damage.

A landlord can specify that cigarette smoking in the rental unit is not permitted, nor any illegal drugs. (The presence of illegal drugs in a rental can cause significant legal difficulty and expense. Liens can be placed on a property, fines incurred or garnishment of bank accounts are typical.)

Unfortunately, many states have different requirements and regulations, so the wording in leases, lease addendum(s) (when required) vary from state to state. Generally, there is a requirement to disclose former use of lead paint on the interior of older structures, since ingestion of lead is so damaging to children. Lack of proper escape from any room to be used as a bedroom is required because loss of life is unacceptable, but using the room for crafts, etc., would be fine.

So how to sort through these various threats:

  • A legally drafted lease
  • Addendum(s) to the lease
  • Disclosure of any abnormal condition like lead paint or particular rooms that cannot be exited in the event of a fire.

You may, in fact, be renting out a part of your own home, say the garage or a basement area. In this case, you will have some "common" areas like the kitchen being shared. You should make sure that you can deal with the cleanliness of your tenant and respect for your particular idiosyncrasies.

Video Regarding Renting Part of Home Out

Fill Out the Correct Legal Documents

It cannot be emphasized enough that the correct legal documents must be filled out for any type of rental. In addition, you will likely be writing receipts for damage deposit and rent regularly.

At The Landlord Protection Agency, there are a multitude of forms you may require for a variety of rentals:

  • Part of your own home
  • A full home
  • A time-share slice

With renting, there is always risk involved, so protect yourself legally as much as possible.

In addition to .pdf forms you can fill out and save to file for a fee, there are many free resources at The Landlord Protection Agency.

Amazon Books about Property Management

Tenant Eviction

Generally, a landlord must be prepared to oust a tenant in arrears of their rent or if the tenant is causing a disturbance to other tenants or causing damage to the property in question.

This process is known as eviction and the legal rules to enact and eviction may vary from location to location. Always check proper eviction proceedings or you may end up in court, say with an accusation of "discrimination" or the proceedings could drag on.

Some landlords impose fines for late payment which may accrue to tremendous sizes. It may be of your benefit to waive these fees for a good tenant that is suffering through bad times, such as a layoff, until they again are working or otherwise can ameliorate their down financial situation.

You may need to file or have your lawyer file appropriate paperwork if you discover that this cannot be done in a timely way. Always do your homework in advance so valuable time (and renter's income) are not affected badly.

Vacation Property Rental

Many people own vacation property which can be rented out during the time it is not in use by the family or friends. If in an excellent location, this can turn out to be quite a profitable investment.

Again, there is risk to renting it out to careless people who may damage the property or fail to notify about common rental property problems like electrical outages or a plumbing problem.

A problem does exist if you are renting out your own home and are on vacation yourself. Unless you are willing to buy a last minute airline ticket and interrupt your own vacation, you should specify an appropriate property manager in the area and legally enable them to take action to fix any problem.

It may be possible to set up an agreement with another in a similar position renting out their own property, however, the legalities of the arrangement should be specified. Legalities almost always vary by state or province in the USA. Often county and city legalities may exist. Certainly if you live in a place with an HOA (Home Owners Association), they may also have rules to contend with.

Rentals as Investments

Should you find yourself getting more and more units to rent out, it may be wise to try to automate some or most of the procedure.

Specialized software exists for those handling many units, who have to keep track of many details about the rentals. When you have exhausted your mind setting up your own spreadsheets, databases, documents, etc., you might wish to use such specialized rental software.

Rental Property Management Software


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    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 4 years ago from Aurora

      Thanks. Any more specific information would be appreciated.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Protect Yourself as a Landlord great advise and so well thought of

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      A person certainly needs to protect their investment. No landlord wants a clean-up job or anything else. Thx!

    • John  Lakewood profile image

      John Lakewood 5 years ago from Lakewood, CO

      Good points. I rent out an out-building on my property. Fortunately, no problems. (Cross fingers.)

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      I agree. The documents are important and protect both landlord and tenant.

    • Bella DonnaDonna profile image

      Bella DonnaDonna 5 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      It is important to protect yourself as a tenant as well. A sale of rental could me moving out unexpectedly.

    • Laura in Denver profile image

      Laura Deibel 5 years ago from Aurora

      Thanks! Some of this I had to learn the hard way. ;-(

    • novascotiamiss profile image

      novascotiamiss 5 years ago from Nova Scotia, Canada

      Very interesting hub full of interesting information. Voted up!