An investment property is designed to generate cash flow, giving you income or extra spending money. This is attainable when you carefully follow all federal, state and local laws along with ethics and do your research when choosing the right property. It is easy to lose this income or extra cash flow when you fail to adhere to laws, codes and regulations. Failure to follow laws can cost property owners so much money in legal fees, it wipes bank accounts clean. Do not let this be you. This situation is avoidable and Sacramento rental property management leaders at RPM SAC-METRO are here to support you and protect you against making these avoidable mistakes.
Know Your Laws
This task alone may feel overwhelming, as there are so many laws that you must following the second that you label your property as a rental property. Some laws are put into place to protect property owners and others are to protect tenants. Either way, you must follow them. Here is a list of some of the most common laws that property owners must know to dodge lawsuits:
- Americans with Disabilities Act: Sacramento rental property management teams are not allowed to discriminate against any person who has a disability. This civil rights act protects tenants from being discriminated against for their race, sex, national origin, or religion. It also covers those with mental or physical disabilities. This is where the gray area starts for many property owners. If a tenant fills out an application and says that they have a service animal, that is not considered a pet. Even if you have a “no pet” policy, a service animal must be allowed at no additional charge. Property owners also cannot inquire as to what the disability is. They can only ask if the service animal is required for the disability. Remember, a disability does not need to be severe, obvious, or permanent to qualify for the needs of a service animal. If a tenant needs to make modifications to the property in order to make it functional for their disability, they can fill out a Reasonable Accommodation Request. Modifications to the property are to be paid for by the person with the disability who is requesting the change.
- Fair Housing Act: This is a federal act that rental property managers in Sacramento must follow. This act applies to those in protected classes from being discriminated against in purchasing or renting housing. Protected classes include race, color, sex, age, familial status, national origin, or disability. Property owners cannot pick and choose their tenants by discriminating against these protected classes when renting or advertising, and cannot intimidate or harass anyone based on these characteristics. A recent article published by USA Today states that Facebook allows landlords to discriminate in housing ads on their social media website, HUD alleges. This means, HUD claims Facebook is allowing property owners to target only prospective tenants they would want to see their ads and can filter by race, sex, age, color, familial status, national origin or disability. Do not filter who is allowed to view your property in online ads, who is shown your property in person, or who you ultimately choose to be your tenant.
Make certain you are not violating either of these laws, along with many others not listed above. Be conscious of what you ask prospective applicants and tenants. Do not discriminate against anyone who is classified as a protected class. Follow a rigorous screening process and treat everyone equally.
Evictions in Sacramento Rental Property Management
This is another area that can land property owners in hot water if done incorrectly. Evictions are sensitive and must be done in compliance to the law. Afterall, if you evict someone, you are taking away their shelter and putting a mark against them on their credit report. This could follow them around for years when seeking future housing. Before moving forward with filing an unlawful detainer after failure to pay rent, seek the legal advice from your attorney. Evictions can happen if a tenant is not in compliance with lease agreement terms. A few of the most common lease agreement terms that property owners see getting violated include failure to pay rent, not following occupancy guidelines, or failure to comply with a “no illegal drugs” policy. The most common reason Sacramento rental property managers see the cause for eviction is failure to pay rent. If rent is not received on time, property managers can post a formal three-day notice to pay rent or quit. If three days pass by and still no rent payment is received, contact your lawyer for proper guidelines on how to collect rent or start the eviction process. Remember, that you cannot evict someone for failing to pay their late fee associated with late rent. For example, if rent is $2,500 and the late fee is an additional $35, and the tenant comes through with the payment of only $2,500, you are no longer able to evict them. The $35 late fee can be collected later. Do not accept partial rent payments. This requires landlords to itemize daily rent fees and can lead to a messy eviction process.
Possibly the best way Sacramento rental property management professionals can protect themselves against legal woes is to document everything. We are not saying it is easy or fun, but we are saying it is necessary. Make the time to put everything in writing. It is difficult to recall every maintenance request, what was done to solve the maintenance request, or every conversation you have had with tenants regarding lease violations, and much more that property owners deal with daily. By documenting these things, you create a paper trail that can protect you if a tenant or applicant tries to sue you. You can document the old fashioned way by handwriting notes, opt to type notes on your computer, or utilize property management software that allows a note taking option on resident files. Date and time stamp your documented notes.
Do not take your chances in falling victim to costly legal fees. Contact the leader in Sacramento rental property management, SAC-METRO today. Let us protect you.