Landlord Mistake #3 Lack of Knowledge of the Law

Landlord Mistakes

One huge mistake we see landlords making every day is their lack of knowledge of the state and local law.  Sure, just about anything you want to know can be found with a quick Google search, but how does one sift through all that information and know what’s legal in your state and municipality?  

A lease is a legally binding contract between the landlord and the tenant.  It’s imperative to have a legal lease that will hold up in court. Are your late fees too high?  Do you have to provide a grace period on rent? What type of maintenance can you hold the tenant responsible for?  Can you charge non-refundable cleaning fees? All of these are state specific, and some even specific to the municipality or city the property is in.  

What about service animals?  Must you allow them? (Yes.) How much of a deposit can you require for an emotional support animal? (It’s $0.)  What can the landlord require to verify the animal is a service animal? Landlords across the country have been getting sued and fined for not obeying the laws that cover service animals.  Don’t be one of them.  

Did you know that many municipalities and cities here in the St. Louis area require an occupancy inspection before a tenant can move in?  It is the landlord’s responsibility to order the inspection, meet the inspector, correct any violations, have the property re-inspected, and ensure the tenant obtains any required occupancy permits.  Failure to comply with these local laws can result in some hefty fines.  

What about general landlord-tenant laws?  What kind of notice is required for the landlord to give the tenant upon entering the property? (Itt’s “reasonable notice” in Missouri.)  If the tenant doesn’t pay rent do you have to make repairs to the property? (Yes.) Can you sell the property while the tenants are in a lease?  (Yes, but the lease remains until the end date on the lease.)

There’s so much to know when you own an investment property, and failure to be knowledgeable in  the landlord-tenant law in your state and city can cost you. If you’re not an expert in the field, let an expert do it for you.

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