There are a number of laws and rules you have to follow when you’re renting out an income property. It’s a broad subject, and today, we’re talking about a few interesting things that need your attention. We’ll also tell you where to find this information, and how to catch up fast.
Fair Housing Laws
Treat everybody equally. There are seven protected classes, and rather than listing what those are, we’ll let you know that almost everyone who walks in and ultimately becomes a tenant can fall into one of those categories. So, be careful. Treat everyone consistently.
During the application process, it’s easy to follow fair housing laws. You have written criteria, checklists, and a fair and consistent process. Later, during the tenancy, you have to continue treating everyone equally. Think about maintenance. You don’t want to favor one tenant over another. Getting an air conditioner repaired quickly in the middle of a hot summer for one tenant while making another tenant wait is not fair and could be seen as a fair housing issue.
Fair Credit Reporting Act
The Fair Credit Reporting Act has been around since 1970, and it was enacted to protect the public and provide accuracy and privacy with tenants’ personal data. You need to protect this data when you’re screening applications. Don’t share an applicant’s credit report with anyone. You cannot even provide a copy to the applicant, and many people don’t know that. If you need to share the application, scratch out important details like social security numbers and date of birth.
Landlord Tenant Act
There is so much information pertaining to your income property in the Landlord Tenant Act. Four things come up pretty often:
- Access. You need to have permission to go over to the tenant’s residence. They live there, and you cannot bother them too frequently and without good cause. Notify them in writing when you’re coming over, and gain permission verbally as well. You do have the right to go over there; they cannot refuse to allow you. This is especially true when they request maintenance. Their written request gives you the necessary permission.
- Security deposits. You have 14 business days to process the return of a security deposit. If you do not process the deposit within that time frame, and you don’t notify them if they are getting their deposit back or not, they can file against you for three times the amount of the deposit.
- Notice to vacate. When a lease terminates, it does not automatically mean the tenant will move out. If you want them to move, serve a 30-day notice. This is also required with month-to-month renters.
- Partial payments. If your tenant is late paying rent and you’ve started the eviction process, they may come to you with some of the money they owe. If you do accept a partial payment, you’ll need to start the court process all over again in order to evict. Consider the amount your tenant is offering. If they want to give you $300, it’s probably not worth it. However, if they offer almost the full amount, you might want to take it and collect the remainder of the rent at the beginning of the next month.
Income Property Legal Education
This is a lot to remember. To educate yourself, start with taking a fair housing class. You can find a lot of good classes, especially through our attorney and the Arizona School of Real Estate and Business. Then, you should sit down and read the whole Landlord and Tenant Act. It’s only 60 pages, and full of great information. Concentrate on the remedies section because it has a lot of detail on the tenant’s rights, and you must be careful to follow those.