If you’re a landlord, you’ve likely run into an occasional problem with one of your tenants. Whether they are missing rent payments or refuse to comply with an eviction notice, there are legal actions you can take. However, the law will work against you if you don’t follow the proper procedures for dealing with tenants. The following are some of the most common legal mistakes landlords tend to make and tips for avoiding them.
Before a tenant moves into your property, there is a lot of information you need to relay to them. If you fail to disclose important information that could affect their living situation or desire to move in in the first place, you could be held accountable. For example, you need to tell a tenant if a property contains lead-based paint, provide statutory notices, and other critical information. It can be easy to skip these details to make a rental property seem more attractive, but it is your responsibility as a landlord to be as open as possible.
Landlords are also not allowed to ask discriminating questions on rental application forms or to potential tenants in person. Refusing to rent someone a property on the basis of their religion, skin color, sex, disability, familial status, or national origin is illegal. If you discriminate in any way, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit from the Michigan Department of Civil Rights, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the tenant themselves; all of which carry stiff penalties.
You may also not disregard any of your tenant’s right to privacy. If they are conducting illegal behavior inside one of your rental properties, you can evict them. However, you may not break into their property or infringe on their privacy in any way. Doing so could open you up to a world of legal troubles.
Finally, a Landlord must understand that they have an affirmative duty to repair issues related to the habitability of the Premises. State laws and the rental contract may slightly alter this duty, but as a rule of thumb the landlord must always take steps to ensure that the property their tenant is occupying is habitable and safe. Failure to do so often leads to unhappy (and therefore unpaying) tenants and significant complications in the eviction process.