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Do You Make These 5 Landlord Mistakes?

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By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 26, 2012 4:56 AM

Renting out property is not easy. You have to deal with a wide web of laws, a variety of professionals and tenants. It can be a lot to manage.

Which is why landlords often make mistakes -- and the same ones, at that. Most try to stay on top of the law, but things change. Other laws are just open to legal interpretation.

Not sure if this applies to you? Consider the following landlord mistakes to see if you need to modify your behavior.

1. Using a generic lease. It's easy, but it's not custom. Your property and needs are unique, and only a customized lease can reflect that fact.

2. Wasting time. Things move fast in the rental business no matter how slow you want to be. You may be giving tenants some legal wiggle room if you don't enforce lease terms in a prompt manner.

And if you don't respond to complaints in a timely fashion? Well, you may be breaching the implied warranty of habitability.

3. Ignoring security deposit rules. This is perhaps the number one landlord mistake -- and tenant complaint. The law requires you to return a security deposit within a set amount of time. It also limits deductions to rent and/or to damage beyond ordinary wear and tear.

4. Setting discriminatory policies. It's usually unintentional, but building policies often discriminate on the basis of familial status. Low occupancy limits often violate the law. So do policies that limit the number of unrelated persons who can live in a unit.  Consider signing up for Fair Housing Training as a way to avoid these landlord mistakes.

5. Invading a tenant's privacy. Yes, you have a right to enter the premises. No, you don't have a right to enter whenever you want. State laws (and the lease) ordinarily require notice and consent.

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