Owning rental property is a great way to make money, but it also comes with great responsibility. As a property owner, you have an obligation to ensure that nobody gets hurt on your watch. Unfortunately, in today’s sue-crazy society, even the most conscientious property owner can find himself in a surprisingly sticky situation. Here are four big areas of potential problems.
First, it is your responsibility to rent property that is safe and well-maintained. Fix or remove hazards promptly, and take action to remedy any tenant complaints and reports in a reasonably timely manner. Failure to do so could result in injury to an innocent party and could land you in the middle of a lawsuit.
One of the best ways you can protect yourself is to carefully screen your tenants. Simply put, don’t allow criminals to live on your property. If your tenant engages in criminal activities on your rental property, you can be held liable, especially if you are aware of the situation and haven’t done anything about it.
If you are going to allow pets to live at your property, you’ll need to screen them as well. Check with the owners to make sure the animals are friendly and have no history of malicious behavior. Allowing a potentially dangerous animal on your property is a liability for you, again, especially if you are aware of its history. In many communities, you can check with the local animal control office to see if there have been any complaints against a particular animal. Oh, and don’t forget to check with your insurance company to make sure you are even covered for animals. Many insurance companies disallow certain animals or specific breeds of dogs.
The Fair Housing Act of 1968 prohibits discrimination based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, and disability. Avoiding this can be trickier than you think. Establish a tenant selection criteria and follow it exactly every time. Otherwise a tenant may claim that you are discriminating even though you are rejecting them for a completely legitimate non-discriminatory reason.
Here at Martin Presence we are pros at spotting and fixing potential problems and screening tenants. Let our experienced and professional property managers take over these headaches for you. We will do our best to keep you out of the lawyer’s office and in the bank!