Property Management and the Law
A critical element of successful property management is compliance with laws and regulations set forth by your individual state as well as federal oversight. However, even having the most knowledgeable and experience property manager at your disposal, or being an experienced real estate investor yourself, doesn?t make you immune to problems. In certain situations, you may benefit from a lawyer?s assistance, whether it is for representation in a lawsuit or simple advice. Usually these situations have to do with general property management and the law.
You should be realistic that property management of your rental property could potentially involve evictions. No one likes to evict a tenant, but it might become unavoidable if the tenant?s inability to make timely payments or destruction of your property becomes a risk to your cash flow and investment. The eviction process is very detailed and can become very complicated, especially if issues such as bankruptcy are involved. Because most judges will favor the tenant, it is extremely important to educate yourself on the process, follow the specific steps, and keep detailed documentation. Although many landlords successful evict tenants without a lawyer?s assistance, but it is always better to at least talk with a lawyer in advance.
Property Management and Discrimination
Even if you diligently comply with fair housing laws you could still be accused of illegal discrimination from a tenant who has been evicted or been turned down for renting. However, being accused and being sued are very different things, and you will probably want to consult a lawyer if it is the latter. Going to court can be extremely expensive, in addition to violation fees if you are found guilty. In addition, such charges could damage your professional reputation, or that of your investment firm. It is important to educate yourself on the statutes of illegal discrimination so that you do not unknowingly put yourself at risk.
Property Management and Welfare of your Tenant
Effective property management includes the maintenance of the property which is being rented, and it is your responsibility to keep the property up to date with all repairs. If one of your tenants claims he/she was injured because of your property, it will be an extremely sensitive and delicate issue. Especially if you do not believe you are at fault for your tenant?s injury, it is best to bring in a lawyer that is not personally invested in the case.
Property Management and Damage
Similarly to the personal injury scenario mentioned above, it is also possible to be sued for property damage. Tenants can claim ineffective property management of the rental property which resulted in unrepaired utilities that in turn damaged a personal item. An example of this could be a leak in the plumbing which caused massive flooding throughout the apartment. Part of basic property management does include acquiring liability insurance, which would probably be at your disposal. Depending on how large of compensation your tenant is seeking, you may choose to just consult with a lawyer and handle the situation yourself.
As you can see, there are always going to be situations that require some knowledge of the law, and how it pertains to property management. It?s a good idea to learn what is the right of yourself as a landlord, in addition to the rights of your tenants.
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