Landlord Behavior to Avoid in the New Year
It’s time to put together your New Year’s Resolutions for 2012. And while you are probably an excellent landlord in every way, you may be considering making a few improvements in the New Year. To help, we’ve compiled a list of landlord behaviors to avoid:
- Avoid the temptation to go through your tenants’ private spaces. Sounds like a no-brainer, since tenants have the right to privacy, even though they live in your property. But when a tenant recently reported coming home and finding the contents of her closet on the floor, along with a note saying that overstuffing will break the door, it apparently needs to be addressed.
- Don’t show up at your tenant’s door without the appropriate notice, as specified by the law and in the lease. Even if you’re already in the neighborhood, and you just want to stop in and change the furnace filter, and it will only take a moment, avoid this bad habit. Unless you see an imminent threat to your tenant’s safety, you need to give them proper notice.
- Avoid being like the San Francisco landlord who is being sued for $10 million by his tenants for failing to deal with bugs and mold. We’ll never be able to completely eradicate the rats, bedbugs, cockroaches, and other creepy crawlies that most people do not enjoy having around. But it’s a landlord’s duty to provide a safe and habitable living unit. And mold is a serious health hazard, especially for those with asthma or compromised immune systems. So if your tenants report a problem with bugs or mold, take care of it.
- Don’t discriminate against your tenants or prospective tenants. Raise your awareness of what constitutes discrimination—because it’s illegal. For example, one Ohio landlord recently got in trouble for her “White Only” pool sign. She said it’s an antique, and must have thought it was harmless, but one tenant didn’t find it to be harmless. The landlord has been fined by the state Civil Rights Commission, and is appealing the charges
Landlords aren’t perfect—and neither are tenants. But it’s important to keep a professional business relationship with your tenants—keep that in mind as you go into the New Year!
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