For the most part, real estate is a stable means of income. But if you want your rental business to succeed and keep the stream flowing, you have to avoid drama and lawsuits.
In this article, we’ll cover four common reasons your tenants can sue you.
Failing to provide habitable living conditions
As a landlord, you have an obligation to your tenants to provide a suitable living environment in exchange for their monthly rent. If you default on your end of the bargain, your tenants can rightfully serve you with a lawsuit. You could neglect your duties by failing to pay for utilities that are your responsibility according to your lease or failing to make timely repairs that compromise your tenants’ health and safety.
Withholding your tenants’ security deposit illegally
It’s common for landlords to request a security deposit from their tenants. This fee is set aside to cover prospective damages that may occur throughout the tenancy agreement. You can think of it as an emergency fund for repairs when a renter breaks a tile, blows a fuse, or causes some other damage to your property.
Most landlords often run into trouble when a tenant is unsatisfied with the leftover or absent security deposit. The best way to avoid this situation is by keeping an accurate account of how you spend the money and restraining your deductions to legal necessities.
Adding an illegal clause to your lease that violates landlord-tenant laws
A rental lease is a document that validates the legal agreement between a landlord and their tenant. Now, because there can be varying arrangements depending on the property type and other circumstances, there’s often room to make adjustments both parties deem fit. However, that doesn’t give you free rein to include any laws you deem appropriate.
Adding any law that violates national or state landlord-tenant laws threatens your tenants’ rights, and they can sue you for that. For example, you can’t absolve yourself of the responsibility of making repairs on the property or give yourself unquestionable access to the apartments. Ideally, it would help if a real estate attorney went over the lease to make sure it checks the correct legal codes.
Failing to disclose essential information
Landlords have many duties, including marketing their property. So in a bid to quickly fill vacancies, some property owners withhold vital information that might influence applicants’ decisions. Not only is that a dishonest practice, but it is also an illegal offense that can land you with a hefty sum. That is especially true when the information you’re suppressing compromises the tenant’s health and safety.
For instance, a recent bedbug infestation, lead paint, and mold issues can severely damage a person’s health and property. So you know you have to disclose that fact, even if you’re already dealing with the situation.
There you have it, four common reasons tenants sue their landlords. Of course, there are a few more incentives that might give your renter an excuse to sue, such as entering their apartment without appropriate notice, failing to make repairs that result in an injury or damage to property, and filing a wrongful eviction.
One of the best ways to avoid a day in court is maintaining a good landlord/tenant relationship. However, if you’re not up to the task or need a bit of help, you can always hire a qualified property manager.