Advice For New Landlords

by Eve Pearce

With housing prices remaining relatively low, some are looking to rent out their existing property when moving on rather than selling at a price lower than the purchase while others are using this time of more affordable housing to buy an investment property as a provision for the future. Whatever the reason, becoming a landlord is not risk free and so it is important that you do your research and take the proper precautions to protect your investment and hopefully see a good return.

A Good Rental?

First things first, find out whether your property or prospective property will make a viable rental. This involves calculating total outgoings such as mortgage payments, insurance, maintenance and repairs and agent fees and researching typical rental prices in the same neighbourhood. Speaking to local real estate and letting agents and looking at online property rental websites is essential to finding the right rental price for your property. This is important not only for calculating the yield on your investment to check for financial viability, but also for setting an appropriate price that will attract tenants when you come to advertise. Whether or not a property will make for a good rental is not only about how the figures stack up. It is vital to consider the local market, the competition, and identify the type of tenants that are likely to be interested in your property so that you can make sure you tailor your rental accordingly. For example families will generally require a bath whereas young professionals are often fine with just a shower room. By understanding your market you can ensure that your property caters for the needs of prospective tenants and, in areas of ample competition, stands out from the crowd.

Let Your Mortgage Company Know

If you are thinking about renting a property which you previously purchased with a residential mortgage, it is important that you inform your lender of your intention to let. Some lenders might force you to change your mortgage to a buy-to-let which often requires a lower loan to value and charges a higher interest rate, so be sure find out where your lender stands when you are assessing the suitability of renting out your property.

Work Out Tax Implications

As with any income, money earned from rental of real estate is subject to federal taxation. It is therefore important that you understand the tax implications of becoming a landlord. When you start to receive an income from your property – regardless of whether you make a profit – you will need to declare this income on your tax return. However, there are a number of deductibles (for example repairs to the property) that can offset some of the income you make so it is important that you get into good record keeping habits from the start.

Get Rock Solid Contracts

Regardless of who you are letting your property to, a solid rental contract is vital. Even when you are renting your property to family or friends this is essential, and it is unfortunately often these situations that go wrong and so it is important that you are protected by a sound lease agreement or rental contract. It is worth seeking the advice of a real estate lawyer or attorney to have a contract drawn up to ensure it contains all of the proper provisions. Often new landlords are tempted to find a contract or template online or try drawing up an agreement themselves to save money, but this will be a false economy if your contract turns out not to be watertight if you have problems with your rental.

Vet Your Tenants

Although you will never really know how a prospective tenant will turn out until they are living in your property (or more often until they move out), but it is nonetheless vital to make the appropriate checks into their character and background before you hand over your keys. If you are using a rental agent to obtain tenants and manage your property, they will undertake such checks. However if you are choosing to self-manage, then conducting a credit check and obtaining references from employers and previous landlords is necessary. Another test not to be underestimated is simply meeting prospective tenants face to face. If their checks and references look good but you just have a strange feeling about them, trust your instincts.

Protect Your Property

As a landlord it is important to have the proper insurance in place to protect your real estate and any contents which you own by taking out appropriate landlords insurance. When moving out of and renting your own home, it is important to switch to landlords insurance rather than rely upon your existing policy as in the event of an incident for which you need to make a claim, you could find that your insurer refuses to pay out on the basis that you had leased the property without their knowledge. In addition to covering the property itself and any fixtures and fittings you have provided, it is possible to take out cover against loss of rental income or your liability as a landlord to ensure you are covered in any situation. Another way of protecting your property is by installing adequate smoke alarms and this is in fact a legal requirement in most states.

Know The Law

Another important aspect of becoming a landlord is being aware of all of the laws that protect you as a landlord, such as eviction procedures, and those which you are obliged to adhere to for the protection of your tenants. Understanding your legal requirements as a landlord is crucial to ensuring you don’t find yourself in a litigious situation and understanding your rights as a landlord before you lease your real estate to your first tenants will give you the confidence to act swiftly and appropriately should any difficult situation, such as non-payment of rent, arise.


Ive been Evicted, and had a car Repoed?

well, im 24 years old currently live in NY. back in 2006 i moved to florida bought a car and rented an apartment. well i lost my job, and got evicted in june of 2007. subsequently i moved back to NY and drove the car i purchased back to ny with me. i moved back in with my parents, and during the whole process i fell behind on my car payments and my car was repoed in april 2008.

currently i am paying 50$ a month on my eviction payments. the total due is over 6000 dollars. i know its a small payment but thats all i can afford. im a full time student and will graduate from comm college i may, and plan on enrolling in a 4year school in the fall. i have not heard anything from the finance company of the car. they do have my address and my phone # but still havnt heard a word. is it possible that they will not try to collect the debt? just brush it under the rug? i still owe over 5000 dollars on it…

2006-2008 was a very rough period for me, but im getting my life back together. these 2 years has destroyed my credit.

should i even pay off this eviction? is it even worth it? it will be off my credit report in 7 years right then there will never be a trace of it correct? should i just wait it out a few years? and is it possible that the car place has just squashed my debt?

advice plz.. thanks!

and it continues….please help with this landlord/tenant issue?

more drama….i’m annoyed that i even have to ask these questions, but i’ve been scouring the internet and i’m having a problem trying to gather this information….basically my aunt (the landlord) is trying to evict some tenants as quickly as possible..
they’re in jail and we would like to get them out on “abandonment of premises” we live in florida and I am trying to find out the process for the abandonment of premises or would it be easier to just file an eviction?
if you have experience, or info please help. thanks

my landlord forced me to take down a religious symbol because another tenant complained that it offended him;?

My 11 year old son made a nice picture of a pentagram, symbolizing earth, air, fire, water, spirit. It was hanging on the inside of our apartment. He put it there to protect himself from negative energy of our mean, nasty, irrational, threatening, scary neighbor. This man swore up and down at me to take it down because he believes in God. I explained it wasn’t a satanic symbol, we also believe in a higher power. He called the usually reasonable landlord, and the landlord insisted that I take it down as the neighbor was offended by it. I explained the use of the symbol and my civil rights, that I find my neighbor to be offensive, the landlord still insisted I take it down as it’s bothering the neighbor. Not wanted to be evicted I did so. My son is very upset as am I. It is our constitutional right, it’s inside our apartment, we have it there for good reason, yet our residency in this building is being threatened should we not bow down and comply. As a single mom I feel I’m obviously being bullied into compliance by these men, allowing them to stomp on my civil rights. I know if they tried to evict and took me to court that they’d be in hot water messing with our civil rights. Not only that, we are part native american and like to decorate as such, and were making a protection amulet. I live in puritanistic conservative, ignorant New England, in NH. but their fear of things they don’t know about is not my problem. My son and my rights are being violated. In fear of losing our place we are forced to bow down. I can’t afford an attorney. Please advise.

Please only legal professions advise. Thank you

Landlord locked deceased mothers belongings?

My mom passed away a week ago, she rented her home and her landlord called me today to tell me he changed the locks until I can show Power of Attorney or executors papers? I am an only child, my mom didn’t have any money or accounts just her personal belongings. From what I’ve read since she’s already deceased I can’t get POA so what exactly do I need to do to obtain her things, all the family photos, my daughters toys, furniture, videos, everything. I’m assuming I will only have to the end of the month since she already paid this months rent so I dont know how long of a process this will be. I am hoping to get this done asap because I have never trusted her landlord and I know he has been there at least twice since her passing on his own besides changing the locks.

Should I take my landlord to small claims court?

I moved out of my apartment on July 19 and my lease was up on July 31. On August 20 I received a check for my security deposit for $366, when it was supposed to be for $400. I texted my ex-landlord (that is her preferred way of communicating, it it how we have always communicated in the almost two years that she was my landlord) and asked her why it was for the wrong amount. She told me she was out of town for a few days and would look into when she got home. Turns out she was actually out of town for two weeks, and she returned home yesterday and said she would have an answer for me today. Today she tells me the reason they took money was for a cleaning bill. Now my roommates and I throughly cleaned the apartment before leaving, despite the fact that when we moved in it was disgusting. But according to the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951, landlords must send a list detailing any charges they have taken out of your security deposit, along with the check, within 30 days of moving out. Becuase she did not do this, I am actually entitled to double the amount of my security deposit. When I told her this she said there is nothing she could do and to stop being ‘unreasonable.’

I do not think I am being unreasonable. I am out of work and have $6 in my bank account. $44 may not seem like much, but to me it makes a big difference. I just need advice from someone who either had legal experience or has been to small claims court before. Should I bother going? Does it sound like I will win?

Here is the Pa Attorney General’s website, with the laws about security deposits:

There is also a .pdf of the Landlord and Tenant Act of 1951 on that website.
I have not cashed the check, hence the $6 in my bank account lol.

I asked her for a reason the very night I got it and did not receive a response until 2 weeks later. She was out of town but I asked if I could speak with the person who works above her (she works for a company, she does not personally own the building) she refused. I did not receive an explanation until well after the 30 days she is given by law.
I’m not desputing that she got a cleaning company, however uneccesary it was. The law says that she must send an itemized list along with the check within 30 days of the leas ending. She sent the check 20 days later without a list. I never recieved a list, she text messaged me today. (Sept 3.. 33 days later)

Can my landlord end my lease if I have no violations?

I live in Colorado and my landlord has said she is filing for bankruptcy and wants me to move out in sixty days will allow me 30 days rent and $300 to move. I don’t want to move, I sent a certified letter saying “I can’t accept your offer.” She has her home up for sale and I suspect she just want to move back in. Can she terminate the lease just because she wants to or can she insist on seeing the place how often she wants, I got an attorney last year because she said my signature was on top of white out and then sent me two more leases, one completely different over the course of weeks, my attorney wrote her I had a valid lease and to communicate through him in future. She ignores him. Also now that attorney has not returned my emails, or notes. I wrote him about this. So what should I do now?

What do I need to do to fight my landlord/Insurance co for excessive charges to repair my apartment after fire?

FACTS: My apartment caught fire while I was not home in mid Nov 09. The fire was in fact caused by something of mine that my cat was playing with which touched the floor heater while I was gone. I thought that by turning the thermostat all the way to the left, the heater was off, which I always did before leaving. But the thermostat did not have any numbers or words on the unit, and the fire chief told me it does not turn off, just turns down! Although I have warned my landlord in the past the floor Furness is extremely unsafe, and has almost started fires 2 times before, I was prepared for the fact that I would not get my $1200 deposit back, and I would also have to pay out of pocket for some of the repairs. This was a very small fire which caused little damage to the apartment other than the wall that it was next too, small area of the hardwood floor and the smoke damage. I was displaced for the period while the apartment was to be fixed, however once I saw how long it was taking and how cheap and unprofessional my landlord going about the repairs, I decided to start looking for a new place. I gave my 30 day notice, and moved this last weekend. Over the weekend I also received a letter from my landlord’s insurance company stating that I am solely responsible for the damages, and am being charged over $21,000!! It has taken 2.5 months for the apartment to be fixed back up…clean smoke damage from walls, paint, replace 2 single pane windows which fire fighters broke, replace 8×8 area of Pergo floor, patch small wall area (aprox 36″ x 24″) with drywall, replace floor heater with up to date wall unit…Then there is what is left to do…clean or replace hallway carpet (aprox 5′ long hallway), and bedroom carpet (aprox 12’x14′), replace blinds throughout. The work was done very unprofessionally, and I doubt the man who did the repairs is even licensed, because I met him and he didnt even speak English. There is lots of areas which were not completed completely (mostly finishing of the segments where floor goes from on room to the next, and the workers left all the waste from the work they did in the apartment, which I had to move to the back porch. My neighbor told me my landlord asked him to do the repairs and he would pay him under the table or deduct it from his rent. Also my landlord’s girlfriend informed me the apartment was ready to move back in at the beginning of Jan, and that I am being charged rent for Jan, however the apartment is still not ready to move into. I feel that my landlord has taken the $21,000 and then hired someone under the table to do the work, since he originally asked my neighbor to do the work under the table, but he refused because my landlord has still not paid him for a water leak and mold damage that he himself had to repair in his own unit.

HISTORY: My landlord has told me time and time again that he does not want to put any more money into the apartment building (2 duplex’s), when I have requested small repairs (land line phone jack install, kitchen plumbing leak, bathroom faucet leak, unsafe heater unit), and always asked me to fix things myself or find someone to do it cheap and he will either go half with me or deduct a portion of my rent. He is what I see as a slum lord, who has lots of properties in low income areas, and does whatever he can to get as much out of them as he can…He drives a brand new Mercedes, and lives in a new home. He also will tell you whatever you want to hear, just to please you then will not follow through or will follow through with very disappointing results.

MY QUESTION: How do I fight the charges…it is not possible that it cost over $21,000 to do these half a** repairs…I need to know what I should do. Contact an attorney? Call the insurance co and dispute it? I have photos of the damage, and photos of what the repairs look like. I have informed my landlord that the work is not even complete and I only get a response from his very rude girlfriend. I have a feeling my landlord collected this $21,000 and pocketed it, then hired people under the table to do the work.

Please help, I am a single woman and I cannot afford to pay such unfair charges!!!!
Also…I did anticipate paying for the damages, and not getting my $1200 deposit back. I understand i am responsible for my pet if she caused the fire, but I anticipated it costing no more than $5000, which I would have possibly gotten a loan to pay for. $21,000 is excessive for such minimal damage and the qaulity of the the repair work.

need legal advice about paying rent in forclosing home?

Do i have to pay rent in a home i rent that is in the forclosure process. is there a florida website that i can ccheck a statute. i am month to month and have made agreement(w/landlord) to pay less but now being told i am not obligated to pay at all. What is the legality of this. Can she go and file for eviction even tho the home is mid process of forclosure? yes i know i need to move but if she isnt paying why should i pay. should i contact the bank and tell them i am paying her so they can collect from her or use this as a barganin chip to get rent even lower. i agreed to pay 1000 of the 1500 i am suposed to but now thinking about offering 500. i know i cant live for free and dont intend to but why not take advantage of the situation. they have been keeping my money since feb. and not paying the mtg. also the “”NOTE cannot be found(they filed to re-establish lost note) and the partner is MIA since December of last year. should i assume this will make the process even longer

Landlord Tenant Dispute – Stolen Items?

Landlord-tenant dispute – Commonwealth of Virginia

I signed a lease for a rental property. Contained within the lease was a clause that allowed me to move and store my items in the basement area on 7/26/2010 while the “turn” was being performed on the upstairs portion with actual physical move-in date of 8/4/2010. The property management company did not communicate the clause to their cleaning crew and all of my items were removed from the property and placed in storage. When I learned of this removal I demanded that they return the property, which they did minus some valuable items, including: 2 motorcycle jackets, approx. $50 in change, 2 wristwatches, several football cards, a cell phone, and an MP3 player. The nature in which these items “disappeared” from the moving boxes, obviously speaks to theft (all of the silver change was taken leaving only pennies, a new watch was removed from it’s watch box within moving box, the football cards were taken out of a small cash box packed in a moving box). I requested that these items be returned and no further legal action would be pursued. The cleaning crew and the property manager came out on 8/7/2010 to help “locate” the items, which was a pointless effort as I knew the items were not returned and would not be found among my other property returned from the storage units. Of course, they were unable to locate the items. The cleaning crew swears that they did not take the items. I filed a police report for the theft of the items on 8/7/2010.

While I did have a renter’s insurance policy in effect, I do not feel that I should have to lose the value of the deductible, require my insurance company to pay for items, and pay a premium increase, for items that were stolen as the result of the property management company’s incompetence. So the next course of action is to initiate a lawsuit against the property management company for the value of the missing/stolen items. What on what grounds should I pursue a civil lawsuit? Negligence? Also, if I were to hire an attorney, could I sue the property management company to recoup his fees?

Any advice or assistance is greatly appreciated. If you happen to be an attorney in the Blacksburg, VA area and are interested in representing my interests in this case, please let me know.
The does state that they are “not responsible for stored items”. However, I do not think that would hold up in court as they/their agents were the responsible parties that caused loss of the items through negligence and/or trespass to chattles.