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What are the top laws and regulations a landlord must know?

What are the top laws and regulations a landlord must know?

As the stock market bubble gets closer to popping, many people are giving landlords another look because rental property is a great way to earn steady ROI each year.

Even though rental property is a great investment, the reality is that there are a variety of laws and regulations that landlords must know including the following:

Landlord-tenant laws regarding discrimination

Landlord-tenant laws prohibit a landlord from denying housing to someone based on any discriminatory factors. That’s because the Fair Housing Act applies to every state across the country., and it keeps landlords from discriminating against tenants due to national origin, race, color, religion, sex, familial status, or disability.

For example, you can’t ask prospective tenants any specific questions about their personal lives. It’s also against the law to set restrictive standards for members of certain groups of people. And, if a current renter’s circumstances change, you can’t terminate the rental agreement for discriminatory reasons, either.

Credit reporting under the Fair Credit Reporting Act

Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a landlord must get an applicant’s permission to run a credit report. Typically, the rental application should obtain consent from the tenant to run a background screening check. You must then provide the prospective tenant with information about the credit reporting agency. 

Now let’s suppose you decide to deny the application based on the information contained in the credit report. In that case, you must inform the tenant of this—and you must explain what factors were included in your decision to reject their application.

Laws about drafting a rental agreement

The tenancy agreement is a legal document between you and your tenant. The rental agreement should state the lease term, rent amount, late fees, and security deposit amount. It should also include any clauses regarding pets, maintenance, and property inspections. 

it’s also smart to remember that the rental agreement can’t contain clauses that contradict state or federal laws. For example, some states have rent control measures or will limit charges for late fees and security deposits. So, you need to know what exactly your state allows before drafting a rental agreement to ensure you’re aligned with the legal parameters in your state.

Now, can a landlord break a lease legally? Yes, but only if the tenant is guilty of a lease violation. But even in those cases, you have to go through the eviction courts to legally get the tenant out of the rental property. 

What about a “tenancy at will”? It doesn’t matter whether or not there is a signed lease—or whether the tenant lives there on a month-to-month basis. Either way, you are still required to follow the law governing verbal rental agreements. Even a squatter has rights, and you can’t carry out a self-help eviction to remove them from your property.

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