Do you own or manage a house that you wish to open to the public for rent? Then you need to learn how to become a good landlord to your prospective tenants. With so many tips for new landlords out there, it is easy to forget about the things a landlord should never do.
What are the biggest mistakes you can commit as a landlord? What are the boundaries that you should never cross concerning your tenants? Let us discuss six of the most important ones below.
- Enter the property without proper notice
- Raise the rent without justification
- Discriminate tenants
- Refuse major repairs
- Fail or refuse to communicate
- Evict tenants without due process
One of the first things landlords should never do is to enter the property without proper notice. Even if you own the house, you cannot barge in and invade your tenant’s privacy any time you want. Different state statutes follow a “24-hour notice” rule if a landlord wants to enter the property.
Also, the notice should clearly explain the reason for entering the property. Landlords should put the reasons in writing. Alternatively, landlords can also send the notice via email or SMS.
Generally, the usual reason landlords enter the property is to conduct major repairs. Sometimes, the reason is a routine inspection of the property. Landlords who also want to show the property to prospective renters should also give the current tenants proper notice.
On the flip side, tenants cannot deny entry to the landlord if the latter gave proper notice. In case the tenant has an event in the house, he may request the landlord to reschedule his visit.
The only time landlords can enter without prior notice is during an emergency. A good example is when there is a gas leak or fire inside the property.
Another big no-no for landlords is raising the rent without a justifiable reason. Both the tenant and landlord are legally bound to follow what’s written in the contract. Since the latter states a specific amount of rent, both parties should pay and charge the said amount, respectively.
However, there are a few instances that may justify an increase in the monthly rent. Firstly, if the tenant decides to invite a new person to join the household, the landlord may increase the rent. Secondly, the landlord may charge a little bit more if he decides to upgrade and remodel the property significantly. Also, some landlords raise the rent if the tenant decides to keep a pet in the house.
Like entering the property, the landlord cannot apply increases without giving prior notice. Ideally, the landlord should give at least a 30-day notice for the increase.
One mistake that may lead to damaging repercussions is discriminating against your tenants. For starters, the Fair Housing Act prohibits landlords from discriminating against prospective renters for the following reasons: race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, gender, and family status.
This means you cannot advertise your property for rent only to Caucasians or Asians. In the same way, you cannot say that you will only accept tenants who have no children.
Apart from refusing to rent people on these grounds, you also cannot discriminate against them by offering less favorable lease terms compared to what you offered to your other tenants.
If there is major damage to the property that needs to be repaired, landlords cannot refuse to fix them. You cannot tell your tenants to take on the responsibility of shouldering the repairs. Interestingly, some areas even require landlords to cover minor repairs in the house.
Examples of these major repairs include fixing handrails, repairing steps, and updating a dilapidated porch. The rationale behind this rule is that it is likely that your tenants do not have the skills and knowledge to perform the repairs correctly.
Furthermore, your liability increases if you let someone unlicensed to take on the repairs. If an accident occurs due to shoddy work, your legal liabilities increase. Thus, if there are major repairs that need to be done, it is best to contact a professional contractor ASAP.
Being a responsible landlord means being someone your tenants can openly talk to about their concerns with the property. Thus, you should never refuse to communicate with your tenants, especially when there’s a pressing matter to resolve.
Landlords cannot ignore their tenants then communicate with them whenever they want to. For example, if you need to perform some repairs and updates on the house, you cannot come knocking in one day and surprise them with your team of repair guys.
On the flip side, if they have questions about the property or the rent, be ready to respond accordingly. Communicate all details clearly and concisely. Avoid keeping important details from your tenants that will affect them directly.
Additionally, if they ask you to do something or if they complain too much, don’t ignore them. Instead, talk to them calmly and explain your side.
Last but not least, you cannot evict your tenants without going through the proper channels. As a landlord, you have the right to evict your tenants who break your rules or breach your agreement. However, you cannot expect your tenants to vacate on short notice.
You need to give them at least 30 days to prepare before moving out. Also, you cannot just put a padlock on the home’s main door. You may be charged with retaliatory eviction.
Find a good property to rent out
By following these tips for being a landlord, you will have fewer problems with your tenants. If ever you’re in the hunt for a good property that you can rent out, we can point you in the right direction.