Being a great landlord involves a lot of work. It’s not just about keeping your rental property in tiptop shape and maintaining good relationships with your tenants. You also need to observe the local landlord-tenant laws and make sure everything is in accordance with the law.
If you’re just starting out in your foray as a landlord, here are your most important legal responsibilities.
- Written lease or rental agreements are a must
Oral contracts can be messy, leading to bouts of he-said, she-said. To make things cut and dry, always prepare a written lease or rental agreement. All of the necessary details should be there, such as rent stipulations, the lease term, the name of the tenant/s, occupancy limits, deposits and other fees, house rules, and the care and repair expectations for that unit.
Anything else that was agreed upon by you and the tenant should also be included in the paperwork to avoid disputes in the future.
- You need to provide advance notice if you are going to increase rates
As a landlord, it is well within your rights to increase rental rates in your property as you see fit. You can’t, however, just do it without informing your tenants. Notice should be given at least 30 days or a full month before the increase takes into effect.
- Evicting a tenant? A written notice must be given
Do you have a tenant who has broken anything on the lease agreement? It may be time to evict them from your property. To do that, you need to give the tenant a written notice of intent, then give them at least 30 days to repair whatever violation they committed. If they failed to do so, you can proceed to the court to file an eviction action.
If you are planning on evicting a tenant on the grounds of nonpayment of rent, you need to give the tenant three days, after which you can file an eviction action. Note that for both instances, the day you serve the notice, as well as holidays and weekends, are not included in the count.
- You’re responsible for all the repairs and maintenance
As a landlord, it’s your duty to perform preventative maintenance as well as repairs on your rental property. This falls under the obligation of providing your tenants a safe and habitable place to live. Codes (health, building, and safety) should be observed and followed, and all utilities must be kept in good working condition.
- You have to follow Anti-Discrimination laws
Tenant screening is a must if you want to ensure that your rental property turns in a profit. That, however, doesn’t excuse any kind of discrimination towards potential and current tenants. Anti-discrimination laws are all encompassing, covering everything from marketing and ads as well as the information you require for tenant applications.
You can turn down applicants based on their bad credit history, unstable income stream, and other factors that make them a risk. You can’t, however, deny applications based on the person’s race, color, familial status, disability, sex, national origin, religion, military status, and ancestry. Read more about Ohio’s Fair Housing Law here.
- You must provide a steady supply of running and hot water
In addition to running and hot water, your tenants should also have access to reasonable amounts of heat. You can include the expenses for these utilities in the total rent price, or you can charge it directly to the tenant.
- You must fulfill your disclosure obligations
People have a right to live in a safe and habitable space, and as the landlord, it’s your duty to be transparent to your tenants, current and potential, about the goings-on and the state of your rental property. This includes existing damages and issues, security deposits and non-refundable fees, presence of lead-based paint and mold, and anything else that can cause serious injury or damage to anyone’s health.
- You must respect your tenants’ privacy
Being the landlord doesn’t give you the right to come and go into occupied units as you please. You can enter these spaces, provided you have legitimate reasons, but take note that the tenant can complain that you’ve violated their privacy if you abused this power.
In Ohio, it’s required for landlords to give their tenants a notice 24 hours before their visit, when they will be entering the occupied home or unit. You can’t just show up whenever. Always notify your tenants in advance.
Sundance Property Management has been in the business of managing rental homes, apartments, and multi-family residences for years. You can trust us to provide you with all the property management tips. Would you like to learn more? Contact us today.