The most capable landlords know how crucial it is to keep abreast of everything that happens on their properties, as well as the laws and regulations that govern rental properties in their state. If you want to sustain your success as a property owner and landlord, keep the duties we describe below in mind.
Also, if you’re ready to hand off the day-to-day duties of running your rentals, it’s a sharp move to turn to an experienced, professional property management company. Among their many skills and responsibilities, property management companies will make sure you stay within the relevant laws and regulations in your state for rental property owners.
1. Adhere to Anti-Discrimination Laws
One of your most vital responsibilities as a landlord or property owner is to make sure you and your staff follow The Fair Housing Act. This legislation protects everyone in the United States from discrimination when they buy or rent an apartment or house or seek help with finding housing.
The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for property owners to discriminate against potential tenants on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, disability, or national origin. For example, you are not allowed to tell one person you have vacancies but say to another who looks different that you are fully booked.
You cannot set differing terms and conditions when you rent or sell a house or apartment to anyone. Whatever is on the lease agreement must apply to all applicants.
2. Manage Security Deposits
You have the right to charge renters a security deposit, even though the money never belongs to you. Instead, the deposit is a type of security in case the renter damages the property or doesn’t pay the monthly rent.
You also must obey your local and state laws as they pertain to security deposits. Some US states limit how much you can make a tenant pay for a deposit.
Landlords must follow the laws of their state regarding security deposits or face the possibility of being charged with a misdemeanor. For example, Texas has no maximum limit for a security deposit, but the money must be returned to the tenant within 30 days of vacating the property.
The Lone Star State allows landlords to deduct funds for damage and repair above normal wear and tear.
In Pennsylvania, the maximum security deposit that can be charged is two months’ rent for year one and one month’s rent for the years that follow. The funds must be returned within 30 days.
Also, Pennsylvania requires property owners or managers to keep security deposits in an escrow account at a federal or state-regulated bank.
3. Make Repairs
Every state has laws that declare landlords and property owners must be responsible for prompt repair of their homes or units. Your lease agreement should describe the repairs you are responsible for versus those that are the tenant’s responsibility.
Tenants may be legally entitled to hold onto their rent money if you fail to make a significant repair that affects the safety or health of the people who live on the premises. Making timely repairs will not only keep you out of trouble with your city’s housing authority; it’s just good business.
Keeping your units or homes in good working order makes it less likely that you will incur significant, expensive repairs later. Plus, word gets around when a landlord or property owner cares for the property, so you’re more likely to get great tenants if you do that.
Each state has its own laws that apply to evictions. It’s critical for you to make sure you follow your state’s rules and don’t risk running afoul of the law.
For example, Colorado law states that the only way you can terminate a lease early and evict a person is through a forcible detainer suit. Such a suit mandates that the property owner obtain a court order that requires the renter to leave.
In this state, you can evict for failure to pay, violation of terms of the lease, or when the tenant refuses to vacate when the lease is up.
When you’re a property owner, you must observe many rules and regulations that are meant to ensure that you run your buildings or rental houses legally and fairly. It’s often a good idea to retain a real estate attorney to consult from time to time and thereby ensure that you follow the letter of the law.