It’s probably taken you some time to purchase your first rental property; you’ve probably put in a lot of work and now you’re finally ready to make some money. If you’re first starting out, it can be overwhelming trying to set everything up, especially the legal aspect of being able to rent a property out. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re just starting out as a new landlord:
Put the lease agreement in writing
This is probably the most important thing you can do: make sure to put the lease agreement between you and the tenant in writing, with all parties’ signatures. If any issues should ever arise, the least agreement protects you and gives you, the landlord, legal rights. The lease agreement protects both parties in case there is ever a dispute.
Ask for a security deposit
There are certain limitations on security deposits, but it’s important to have one so your tenant knows that you are serious about keeping the place in good shape, and the tenant themselves will have motivation to keep the place in good shape so he or she can get their security deposit back. Along with a security deposit, make sure your tenant fills out an inspection sheet – this allows the tenant to go through the rental unit and note down the initial condition of the rental, so as to reduce any disputes down the road if you, as the landlord, keep some of the deposit for damages.
Screen your tenant
Know whom you are about to rent to. You can start this process by having the tenant fill out a rental application form. Once you receive the application verify their credit and employment history, this will help you see if your potential renter has the ability to pay rent. Be careful here though, you do not want to discriminate against anyone or break any laws regarding housing discrimination. If, after you run a financial check, the tenant shows inability to pay, they can be disqualified from becoming a tenant. You, as the landlord, have the ability to disqualify a tenant based on ability to pay.
Understanding the lease agreement is very important. Things such as repairs should be dealt with in a timely manner. If not, the tenant could take you to court for breaking the lease and it becomes harder to enforce regulations of the lease that you want the tenant to follow.
Know your rights
Just like the tenant, you as the landlord have rights. One example is that you have the right to enter the property when issues arise, such as maintenance or water leaks, but we advise giving proper notice to the tenant. You also have the right to evict a tenant if they are not following the rules of the signed lease agreement. Please be familiar with tenant and landlord laws in your particular state, since it can vary.
If you are having issues with a tenant and need legal representation, please give us a call at 414-259-9300. We have attorneys that specialize in tenant and landlord law and they would be more than happy to look at your case. Schmidlkofer, Toth, Loeb & Drosen, LLC can handle your tenant/landlord case in Wauwatosa, WI and surrounding Wisconsin areas including Milwaukee, Waukesha, Ozaukee, Washington, Racine and Kenosha Counties. We offer free consultations; so don’t hesitate to give us a ring!