Among the costs that come with being a landlord, legal fees are an expense that few ever set aside in their budget. But the obligations you take on as the owner of rental homes often increase your chances of being sued. Not all residential agreements work out the way you hope, and sometimes not all expectations can be met. Even so, there are several proactive steps that a property owner can take to help avoid lawsuits and, ultimately, save a lot of time, hassle, and money.
The most important way a property owner can avoid being sued by their residents is to keep rental properties in good repair. Neglecting to perform necessary maintenance on a rental property can lead to unsafe or uninhabitable conditions and disgruntled residents. Renting a home in this condition is likely to violate any number of state, local, and even federal laws, and possibly lead to unwelcome litigation. For this reason, it’s important to perform regular maintenance and, for more urgent issues, get repairs taken care of as soon as possible.
In addition to regular maintenance and prompt repairs, ensuring that your rental property meets basic safety standards is another way to keep potential lawsuits to a minimum. Safety-related concerns, such as door locks, stair railings, and more, need to be addressed promptly or you may be held liable for the consequences. For example, if a resident complains about a broken door lock and someone breaks in, you could be sued by your resident.
Another top reason landlords often get sued is over undisclosed environmental hazards. If your rental property has mold, lead-based paint, asbestos, or even bedbugs, and you fail to disclose or fail to deal with the issue, your residents may have a strong case against you. For this reason, the best way to avoid a lawsuit is proper disclosure and quick action when dictated by law.
Finally, it sounds a bit obvious, but one of the best ways to avoid a lawsuit is to follow your lease. A lease is a binding legal contract for both parties; this means that if either you or your resident fail to perform your responsibilities, you could wind up in a lawsuit. At the same time, however, as long as you honor the agreement you’ve made with your resident, your chances of getting sued greatly decrease.
Unfortunately, there is nothing a landlord can do to guarantee they’ll never face a lawsuit. But what you can do is hire Real Property Management. We know the ins and outs of property management, including the importance of prompt and appropriate responses to complaints and repair requests. When you trust us with your rental properties, you have a team of experts on your side dedicated to helping you avoid legal trouble – and save money, too.