Laws vary from state to state and it is up to you to find out more about them. But here are a few general guidelines and questions which may help you discover what your state dictates with regard to these issues. Find out simple things like a limit on the amount of rent increase you can ask for, any interest on the security deposit you need to pay, maximum period of retaining a security deposit after the tenant leaves, any fee you can charge in case of late payment and how long you have to wait before you can demand for that fee, etc.
The rental agreement you draw up is usually taken care of by the attorney but it would not hurt to find out more about it. Find out about the various legal documents required in your state and how you can tailor these forms/ documents to suit your needs. In addition, learn more about where these documents get legally recorded – related fees, taxes etc. A good attorney can usually see you through all of this safely.
It is essential that you know about the housing acts in your state. Tenants are usually guaranteed with some basic rights such as a dwelling fit for human habitation, unlawful discrimination, power to hold the landlord liable in case of damages caused due to the landlord’s negligence and protection against being locked out without a legal notice. You need to make sure that you do not falter here and in case of disagreements with regard to the above, you carry out the procedures legally.
When it comes to disclosing facts about the rental you need to cover a range of issues. Some states may require specific checks to be conducted on the house and the results revealed to the tenants – like sexual predators in the neighborhood, presence of radon gas etc. There are both federal and state requirements regarding disclosure of certain facts to tenants and you must adhere to these.
Most of the above can be handled by yourself but when it comes to evictions, you need a good attorney and a thorough knowledge of the laws. If you at least have a basic idea then you may not do anything rash like shutting off the power supply because of a late payment. You need to find out the conditions on which an eviction is actually applicable. Additionally find out the exact procedure, the notice you will have to serve, the total cost etc. This will help you judge if you even want an eviction as opposed to a settlement out of court. If you do seriously consider eviction, hire yourself a decent attorney.
Knowing your laws is important as you want to stay well within the legal boundaries. It will make your life simpler and prevent you from making rash decisions that may cost you an arm and a leg.
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