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Renting Out Your Home: 5 Common Misconceptions

If you’re lucky enough to own more than one property, the thought has surely occurred to you to rent one out. After all, in a hot rental market, that should be easy enough.

All you must do is find a tenant and watch the dollars roll in. Right? Well, not always.

Whether it’s your first time renting out a property, or you find yourself in a sticky situation with an existing tenant, it can be a challenge to differentiate fiction from the facts.

So, we’ve dug up five of the most common myths newbie landlords find themselves believing.

#1: You’re responsible for all repairs

While this might be what your tenant is saying, it’s not completely true. A good lease agreement will usually specify which repairs you are responsible for, and laws will vary depending on where you live.

However, in general, a good rule of thumb is that landlords are responsible for any repairs that have to do with the “habitability” of the property.

It’s also important to note how the damage was caused since anything caused by a tenant, their friends, pets, etc. is also generally their responsibility to fix. Along with smaller repairs, such as replacing light bulbs or AC filters.

#2: You can’t refuse to rent to anyone – even a felon

While it’s true there are several laws protecting people with a criminal history from discrimination, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re forced to rent out a property to them.

Under the Federal Fair Housing Act, it’s considered discrimination to deny housing to someone with any type of criminal record. Even a misdemeanor that happened over 10 years ago.

However, you are perfectly within your rights to refuse to rent to someone with a record that could potentially put you, your property, or your other tenants at risk.

To avoid being accused of discrimination consider:

  • the crime itself
  • when it happened
  • whether they were convicted (as opposed to just being arrested)
  • whether the nature of the crime puts anyone at risk

If you’re feeling concerned about the answers to those questions, chances are it’s within your rights to refuse to rent.

#3: Generic form contracts are good enough for a lease agreement

A lot of landlords use form contracts (the generic contracts available through your local Realtor Association), in lieu of a customized lease agreement. And sometimes, this works out just fine.

However, when it doesn’t, you could find yourself in a big mess with little legal authority to get out of it.

The quality of these contracts varies so much. It’s good to familiarize yourself with what they cover before blindly using one. It’s also good to keep in mind that the contract may not cover extenuating circumstances that are specific to your property or location.

#4: Noisy neighbors? Not your problem

In fact, this would be your problem at least in most situations. And again, this is where it helps to know your lease agreement.

If there’s anything in there about “quiet enjoyment” or quiet hours, your tenants are fully within their rights to expect you to do something about any excessive or disruptive noise coming from other tenants.

“Quiet enjoyment” is exactly what it sounds like, and this clause is meant to protect tenants from neighbors who might be making their lives miserable by throwing loud parties, having incredibly obnoxious phone conversations, or walking like elephants.

What about when the lease agreement doesn’t specify a right to quiet time? Well,  it’s often implied and seen as a general courtesy to help your tenants resolve the issue.

#5: You can’t enter your tenant’s space

A landlord has a right to enter a tenant’s space so long as they provide the tenant with a “notice to enter” in advance.

In most states, including Florida, 24 hours is sufficient. In the event of an emergency such as a flood or fire, a landlord does not need to provide any notice to legally enter the tenant’s space.

So, if there is something you need to check on or a repair you need to make, don’t worry. You’re not invading your tenant’s privacy. Just do it by the book.

The laws and regulations that come with being a landlord can be overwhelming along with the amount of time it takes collecting all the rent, going through an eviction, and conducting walkthroughs on a regular basis. S&D Real Estate Services can take care of all your Property Management needs!

Check out all the services we provide to our property owners here!

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