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When you’re a landlord, not only do you have to worry about the usual headaches like leaky pipes and broken appliances, you’ve also got to steer clear of legal mistakes that could get you into a lot of hot water.

Be careful what you ask

The federal Fair Housing Act prohibits a landlord from refusing to rent for reasons pertaining to race, color, religion, national origin, sex or gender, disability, and familial status.  You should therefore avoid asking questions that may appear discriminatory or suggest an intent to discriminate.

Make proper health and safety disclosures

You need to tell prospective tenants whether certain conditions or situations apply to your rental property.  These typically include:

  • notice of mold, when you know or have a reason to believe it exists
  • notice of sex offenders that live in the area, if you have knowledge of this
  • disclosure of recent deaths that occurred in the rental unit
  • disclosure of lead-based paint if the property was built before 1978

You also need to take basic safety measures, such as providing locks and adequate lighting.

Repair as necessary

Every state imposes an “implied warranty of habitability” on all rental units.  That means that even if your rental agreement does not specify who is responsible for certain repairs, you must still make sure that the rental property itself is fit to live in.  Failure to make major repairs, especially when a tenant requests them, can result in a lawsuit.

Respect tenant privacy

You should never enter a tenant’s rental unit without first giving a 24-hour written or verbal notice, and this only when showing the unit to a prospective tenant, making a repair or inspecting the property.  The only exception to this is when an emergency occurs.

Being a landlord is tough, especially if it’s not your primary job.  But Herman Boswell can help.  Our real estate management experts have the skills and knowledge to protect your investment and offer you the peace of mind you deserve.  Don’t hesitate: contact us today!