Whether running a small, single apartment building or multiple complexes throughout several states; there are residential property management laws that must be followed. While laws do vary a little from state to state, there are many basic similarities. Property management companies may reduce their chances of legal trouble when they avoid these basic issues.
Avoid these residential property management legal issues
If there is one thing a residential property management company should never do it is to discriminate against potential tenants. With the creation of the Federal Fair Housing Act, it became illegal to discriminate against rental applicants. The only factors a residential property management company may legitimately use when accepting or rejecting a possible tenant is their employment, credit, criminal and rental history plus income status. Residential property management companies must keep paperwork stating why an applicant was rejected which is helpful in the event of a discrimination lawsuit.
Everything in writing
Everything between the residential property management company and a tenant needs to be in writing. There should be no silent agreements or assumed responsibilities. If the tenant is required to pay specific utilities or cut their own grass, this needs to be included in writing. All tenant names should be included in a lease agreement, in addition to the rental terms, security deposit amount, length of the lease, whether pets are approved and all other specifics. If these are not covered within the signed lease, there is a risk for confusion and possible legal issues such as collecting money for pet damage.
Inspect property on a regular basis
In order to avoid costly repairs or injury lawsuits from deteriorating public areas, the property needs to be inspected on a regular basis. Regular property inspections can help reduce preventable accidents such as someone tripping within the property on a crumbling sidewalk or falling because of a burnt out light in a stairwell. Property management companies should encourage residents to report issues that need attention.
Make prompt repairs and respond quickly to complaints
A residential property management company is responsible to make repairs to the property and appliances; it should do so as quickly as possible to avoid issues collecting rent and the risk of injuries or breaking laws around access to heat or water. Failure to provide prompt repairs can cause a unit to be deemed unfit to live in and allow tenants to legally stop paying rent. A tenant can also file legal actions, withhold rent until the damages are repaired or take other legal actions against the property owner.
Additionally, a landlord should ask tenants to report any potential illegal activity or noise violations from their neighbors. A landlord may be legally able to break a lease if a tenant is engaging in illegal activities on the property.
There are dozens of residential property management laws that must be followed in order for a management company to provide quality services to its residents. It is in their interest to avoid legal mistakes than can cause lawsuits and other legal issues.
Son-Rise Property Management is a full service property management company located in Bellingham, WA. Contact us today to see how we can help you find the perfect home to rent or manage your property.