6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Renting Your Home
Owning multiple properties can be a great investment. With rental properties in demand, homes and multi-family dwellings like duplexes can offer an opportunity to get your feet wet at being a landlord. But before you start posting availability and interviewing possible renters, it's important to make sure you ask yourself some important questions. You need to fully understand your rights and responsibilities as a landlord. Landlord tenant laws vary greatly depending on where you live.
Questions to Ask Yourself Before Renting Your Property
1. What are the terms of the lease? You will want your renters to sign a lease stipulating the details of their agreement to rent your property. Not only does this outline your expectations, it also specifies how you will handle issues that may arise. Make sure you have a legal professional review your lease prior to having your tenant sign.
2. What are tenant privacy rights? Landlords are permitted to enter a home to make repairs, show the property to prospective tenants or deal with an emergency. Generally, with the exception of an emergency, the landlord can only enter the home during normal business hours and must give a tenant notice in advance. This may be subject to change depending upon the language of your lease or the local laws that apply to it.
3. Who is responsible for repairs? In most cases, you are responsible for making repairs in a timely fashion and for keeping the premises safe and in compliance with health and other codes. However, the landlord’s responsibility varies depending on the terms of the lease and state or provincial laws. It's also important to make sure your lease states how you will handle types of repairs that are caused by the tenant and beyond normal usage.
4. Can repair or maintenance costs be deducted from the security deposit? Generally, the landlord’s cost for repairing normal wear and tear cannot be deducted from a tenant's security deposit. However, damage caused by pets or careless behavior not associated with everyday use can be deducted. Make sure you walk through the property with your tenants to document any preexisting issues. You might encourage your tenant to take "before and after" pictures to help keep disagreements to a minimum.
5. Is personal property protected under the landlord’s insurance? As a landlord, your insurance usually covers the home or apartment. Tenants are responsible for protecting their personal property. It is often recommended that your require tenants keep renter’s insurance to not only protect personal belongings, but also against personal injury claims that occur on or near your rental property.
6. Under what circumstances can the lease terminated? In most cases, a tenant must provide you with written notice in advance (the number of days may required by law may vary). You should also decide if the lease will automatically renew if notice is not given. In some rare instances tenants can break a lease without notice, but laws vary. If you need to evict a tenant, it's imperative that you follow the requirements stated by law.
If you need assistance with a landlord/tenant matter, call your attorney and get familiar with the laws in your state or province.
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