How prepared are you to face the risk and liability that comes with being a landlord?
Even if you are prepared, what will it be like to defend yourself in a lawsuit or fight back against a tenant claim in court?
It’s not fun, and while investing in real estate comes with dozens of benefits and advantages, the risk is real. In some ways, the liability is inherent. You’re providing a place for people to live. It has to be safe, secure, and habitable.
What you don’t want to do is set yourself up for additional liability in which lawsuits and disputes could have been avoided. Think about unlicensed vendors, dangerous-breed dogs, and deferred maintenance. Fair housing mistakes bring on unwelcome liability and so does forcing a tenant out of your property with threats instead of following the prescribed legal eviction process.
If you’re currently a landlord or thinking of becoming one, it’s important to understand the full scope of requirements and responsibilities you may be faced with.
Here are some of the top landlord liability issues to look out for:
Preventing Tenant Injury
As a landlord, you have a duty to prevent injury to tenants and occupants on your rental property. If the landlord is found to be negligent in protecting the tenant’s right to safety, he or she could be found liable for the costs associated with any injuries obtained by the tenant.
Providing Safe Housing
Along with preventing injury, the landlord has a responsibility to provide safe housing. If a landlord is found to have known something was dangerous and failed to rectify these conditions, then the landlord will be liable for any resulting damages or injuries to the tenant. These issues can be addressed by performing regular inspections and rectifying
dangerous or unsafe conditions immediately.
Avoiding Anti-Discrimination Liability
Landlords are legally required to uphold anti-discrimination laws regarding race, religion and more. If landlords make leasing decisions based on criteria found to be discriminatory there can be liability concerns associated with this.
Making Legal Disclosures
As a landlord, if you do not disclose certain health or safety issues to tenants ahead of time, then you can be liable for any damages that may result to the tenant. This includes disclosing the presence of lead-based paint on the property as a potential risk to the tenant’s health.
Maintaining Tax Records
Failing to maintain appropriate tax records can put your business as a landlord in jeopardy. By not following proper tax and business rules, some of the rights you would hold as a landlord could be voided if you do not comply with federal and state tax regulations.
Though being a landlord comes with its fair share of legal responsibilities it is also an important role to take on. Be sure to familiarize yourself with Florida’s state laws regarding tenancy, rent pricing, security deposits, eviction and tenancy termination procedures and more.
Security Deposit Mistakes and Liability
Not returning a tenant’s security deposit on time will invite a lot of liability into your rental process. Charging that deposit for normal wear and tear issues will also open the door to liability and potential tenant disputes.
A property management company, like Overland Management can help to set you up for success as a landlord. Check out our full range of property management services to learn how Overland Management can professionally manage your investment property.