The Basics of Renting from a Landlord’s Perspective

rentingRenting out or subleasing a space can be a great way to make a little extra cash, but it can also be a hassle. You’re the one who is ultimately responsible for the space, and yet you’re essentially inviting a stranger to live there for a specified (or sometimes unspecified) amount of time. It’s tricky, so we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you become the best landlord ever.

Set Expectations

Make it clear in the listing how much rent will be as well as what your system is for utilities, deposits, and any application fees you might decide to charge. Being clear and upfront about what you expect from potential renters will make the rest of the process go that much more smoothly.

Once you have someone who wants to rent and to whom you feel comfortable renting the space, make sure your contract lays out all the details. Aside from rent and utilities, you’ll want to include things like:

  • How long the lease will last and what are the conditions and/or consequences for either one of you cancelling the lease;
  • Whether they’re allowed to sublet and under what terms;
  • Whether they’re allowed roommates; if so, how many; and under what terms;
  • If and under what terms you may raise the rent;
  • When rent is due, if there’s a grace period, and if so for how long; and
  • Consequences for failing to pay rent/utilities on time.

Document Everything

Starting before your tenant even moves in, you should get in the habit of documenting everything. Take notes and pictures of the space before they move in so you can tell if they’ve done any damage to it by the time they leave, have an ironclad lease agreement, and document all your conversations. Every email conversation with your tenant should have its own file and all text messages should be saved. You can record phone conversations and even in-person conversations if you feel the need (and you’re not violating any laws). Otherwise you can just take notes of each conversation you have with your tenant and make sure to keep those notes together and in a place where you won’t lose them.

Communication Is Key

Finally, the key to any successful relationship is communication. If you start having concerns after your tenant moves in, don’t hesitate to talk to them about it right away. Dealing with it sooner rather than later makes it easier to stop the problem before it becomes an issue. When addressing any potential problems with your tenant, always approach them calmly and respectfully, explain the issue, and ask them to stop. If they can’t for some reason, try to work with them on a way to make the issue less problematic for everyone involved.

There is no fool-proof way for avoiding problem tenants, but by using the tips we’ve provided here, you can help stop many of the common renter issues before they start. If a problem does arise, dealing with it immediately and in a calm, respectful manner can also help your relationship with your tenant and prevent a situation going from bad to worse.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, criminal cases, and all types of family law for more than 25 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

Understanding the Basics of Real Estate Evictions

real estate evictionsMoney and personal property are both sources of contention in all sorts of relationships, so it’s no wonder why it can sometimes be difficult to find a landlord/tenant relationship that isn’t fraught with tension. It can be easy for each party to get frustrated with the other, but no matter how strong the temptation for retaliation might be, it’s important to remember that there are laws in place for real estate evictions to protect everyone involved.

Landlord Disclosures

Landlords are required by Illinois law to disclose specific information to tenants, such as how utilities will be billed if tenants are made to pay a portion of a master metered utility for the building. One common example is the water meter. This information would usually be included in the lease or rental agreement.

Security Deposit Restrictions

Most states don’t have laws that limit the amount landlords can charge for security deposits, but there is a limit on how long after the tenant moves out the landlord can wait before returning the security deposit. In some states, the limit might be 30-45 days after the tenant has vacated the premises. The range is to account for delays landlords might experience if they include an itemized statement and receipts, or if the tenant disputes any deductions made from the security deposit.

Tenants can take their landlord to small claims court for failure to return a security deposit. The law allows tenants to sue for up to $10,000. So, if you’re a tenant looking to sue for a missing security deposit, or a landlord looking to defend yourself against a suit for a missing security deposit, talk to an experienced real estate attorney in your area.

Rent

There are several state laws regulating rent, including the amount of notice landlords must provide their tenants before raising the rent, and how many days a tenant must be given to pay rent or move before the landlord can file for eviction.

Eviction

Despite the Hollywood image of landlords dumping tenants’ belongings on the side of the street, the law is very specific about how and when landlords can evict their tenants. First, a landlord must be able to prove that the tenant failed to abide by one of the terms of the rental agreement. Then the landlord must give the tenant a specified time period to move out before they can file for eviction. These laws vary from State to State, so it is important to consult an attorney if you need help with this issue.

Personal Property

The law lays out specific procedures landlords must follow when renters leave property behind after moving out. If you’re a landlord with this problem, be sure to check all the relevant state and local laws for your area before touching your tenant’s personal property.

Tenant Protections

Federal and state rental laws are also careful to protect the rights of tenants. In addition to fair housing laws that prohibit discrimination, special protections are usually granted to victims of domestic violence. The law also forbids landlords from retaliating against a tenant for exercising any right granted them under the law, for example, complaining about unsafe living conditions.

The attorneys at Sherer Law Offices have been providing legal representation for real estate cases, as well as all types of family law for more than 20 years. Our experienced divorce attorneys will take the time to really listen to your unique situation so that they can plan strategies that can best protect your best interests. 

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