Do you need a rental applicant’s consent to obtain their credit report?
When screening prospective tenants, you do not need to have their consent before obtaining their credit report. However, having a broad written consent on file can be helpful in the future should you need to review their report to determine whether it’s worthwhile to pursue collections against them after a failure to pay rent.
Can you refuse to rent to a prospective tenant because they have children?
You cannot refuse to rent to someone because they have children under the age of 18. Under housing discrimination laws, you cannot refuse to rent to a prospective tenant on the basis of race, color, religion, family status, age, or disability. Many state and local laws also prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Refusing to rent to someone due to the fact that they have children, listing discriminatory requirements in housing advertisements, or setting unreasonably low occupancy limits for the purpose of deterring families from applying can all be considered discriminatory.
What are a landlord’s options when a tenant’s lease is about to expire?
When a tenant’s lease is nearing the end, you can either sign a new lease, the tenant can move out, or in many places, the agreement will automatically become month-to-month. Keep in mind that if you wish to end the tenancy, in some jurisdictions you will be subject to specific notice requirements. If your rental property is in an area subject to rent control laws, you may also need to show “just cause” or other reasons why the tenancy must end. You also cannot decline to renew or extend a tenancy for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
What rules do landlords have to follow to raise the rent in an occupied unit?
If your tenant has a monthly rental agreement, generally you will need to give 30 days’ notice to raise the rent, though in some states more notice may be required. If your tenant has a long-term lease, you will need to wait until the lease is over. Finally, if your rental property is subject to rent control, there are specific local laws you must follow with regard to things such as the annual allowable rent increase, which is usually a set percentage of the rent you are currently charging. If your property is not in a rent controlled area, there is not necessarily a limit to how much you can increase the rent, though it is wise to keep the rent more or less in line with what the local housing market dictates. You cannot raise rent for discriminatory or retaliatory reasons.
Can a landlord evict a tenant from a rent controlled unit?
In many jurisdictions subject to rent control laws, landlords must have “just cause” to evict a tenant or end a tenancy. What constitutes “just cause” can vary from place to place, but commonly accepted reasons include failure to pay rent or otherwise violating the terms of the lease or rental agreement in a significant way, engaging in illegal activity on the premises, or planning a major renovation during which the unit cannot be occupied.
Can a landlord use a security deposit to pay for replacing a worn out carpet?
Generally speaking, landlords cannot use a tenant’s security deposit to cover normal wear and tear, especially if they have been in the unit for a long time. However, you can usually make a better argument for deducting from a tenant’s security deposit for a repair or replacement that has become necessary during a shorter period of time or due to a specific incident.
If I include my rental property income with my personal tax returns, what expenses can I deduct?
When including rental property income and expenses with your personal taxes, you will generally attach Schedule E to your Form 1040. On Schedule E, you can list expenses to deduct, such as repairs, legal fees, insurance, and property management costs. Keeping detailed records of your expenses can make filing your taxes easier, and be very helpful if you are ever audited.
What happens when one cotenant in a unit fails to pay their share of the rent?
At the start of the tenancy, it is best to have all tenants, including both people if you are renting to a married couple, sign the lease or rental agreement. That way every tenant will be jointly and severally liable for the rent, meaning that any of the cotenants can be held responsible for the full rent.
What’s the difference between a sublease and an assignment?
A sublease usually involves a new tenant taking the place of the original tenant for a limited period of time (or sometimes becoming a roommate to the original tenant), and paying rent to the original tenant instead of the landlord. An assignment represents a near-complete transfer of rights and responsibilities from the original tenant to a new one for the duration of the tenancy, during which time the new tenant will pay rent to the landlord. However, if the assignee fails to pay rent, the original tenant can still be held responsible.
Is it permissible for a tenant to make repairs to a rental unit on their own?
Landlords can permit tenants to do repair work on their rental units, and in some states tenants can deduct from their rent for repairs that are not purely cosmetic and that did not arise from damage caused by the tenant themselves. However, it is advisable to limit that sort of work, if any, to smaller jobs that do not have an impact on the building’s structure or other tenants’ safety. Even for smaller jobs, there is a risk that the repairing tenant may injure themselves or do an inadequate or unsafe job that creates danger for others, increasing your risk of liability. Further, the tenant’s work may not be up to code. As a landlord, you are ultimately responsible for ensuring the safety and habitability of your rental property, so it is often best to handle repairs on your own and/or by hiring a professional.
How much notice do landlords have to give tenants before entering a rental unit?
Notice requirements vary by jurisdiction, but in general you must provide at least one to two days. Some states simply require a “reasonable” amount of notice. As a matter of courtesy and to ensure that you are respecting your tenants’ right to privacy, it is usually best to give as much notice as possible before entering a rental unit, and to provide notice in writing if possible. Legitimate reasons to access the unit include making repairs, conducting an annual inspection, or showing the unit to prospective tenants. In emergency situations it is generally permissible to enter a rental unit with less than the normal required amount of notice.
If a tenant breaks a lease, can you sue them for the full amount they would have owed under the lease?
If your tenant moves out before a lease is finished, you may have a duty to re-rent the unit if there are many months left on the lease. Even if you are not subject to a state law requirement to do so, it is usually in your best interest to re-rent the property as soon as possible, particularly if the tenant is not likely to have the funds to satisfy a judgment if you sue them for the rent they would have owed you.
What court are eviction lawsuits filed in?
Depending on the jurisdiction, eviction lawsuits may need to be filed in either small claims or civil court, or in a special court for landlord-tenant matters. If you have the option of using small claims court, or if it’s possible to reduce the damages you are seeking so that you meet the small claims court threshold, it can be worthwhile to file there due to the cheaper and more expedient nature of the proceedings as compared to civil court. On the other hand, if you have a strong case, are seeking more significant damages, and have a good chance of recovering attorneys’ fees, it can be wise to file in civil court.