Landlord Myths You Shouldn’t Believe
Being a landlord comes with a ton of advantages. One of those advantages is, admittedly, the power you have. You can screen potential tenants and determine which ones will be the best fit for your particular property. You can decide how much each tenant pays you in rent, and you can raise that amount if you live in a particularly hot rental market. After all, you have to protect your investment. But your powers are not unlimited. If you cross certain lines, you can find yourself in trouble. Keep reading to find out about three harmful landlord myths that you shouldn’t believe, no matter how tempting they are.
Landlords have unlimited powers to evict
If you don’t like tenants, you can get rid of them, but you have to do it legally. There are legends of landlords who hand out 24-hour eviction notices, or maybe three-day notices if they’re feeling generous. But even if those stories are true, there’s a good chance those landlords got dragged to court for violating state or local eviction laws.
First of all, an eviction notice must be written down. Saying, “Your music’s too loud, and I want you out by tomorrow” will not cut it. Sure, writing it down is more work, but if you were a tenant, you would want your landlord to follow all applicable procedures as well. It has to be on paper instead of verbal, because a paper trail protects both you and the tenant you’re attempting to evict.
In most cases, you can’t kick someone out within 24 hours. There are exceptions, but these are extreme examples. In Oregon, landlords can give a 24-hour notice removal if a tenant has committed some sort of violent crime or other “outrageous in the extreme act.” And if you have a tenant who got arrested for murder, you may need to review your background check procedure.
You can ask applicants anything you want
The tenant and landlord relationship is unique for a lot of reasons. You’re not a dentist inviting a patient into your office for a couple of hours. Instead, you’re basically inviting someone to live in your house, albeit not as the same time as you.
But landlords should not ask unnecessarily invasive questions. Yes, you can ask people about their income, because that’s relevant to whether or not they’ll be able to pay their rent. But you can’t, for instance, ask someone if they’re going to get pregnant and have a baby. That could violate the Fair Housing Act. The best application is a simple rental application that allows applicants to provide their information without feeling like they’re being interrogated by a private detective. Yes, you’ll want to run a background check, but that check can be thorough while still being professional.
All rental hikes are equally valid
You have a right to charge fair market value, but that doesn’t mean you get to announce that you’re doubling the rent effective immediately. In most cases, the lease should spell out the exact terms in which the landlord can raise the rent. Your state will probably also have laws regarding how many days’ notice that you’re required to give tenants before demanding they pay more. That notice is there so tenants can make other arrangements if they don’t want to pay the higher price.
Also, you’ll want to make sure that you aren’t increasing the rent in the middle of someone’s lease. You usually have to wait until the lease is over to raise the price. If someone signed on to pay $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment until June, you can’t come to them in January and say that you feel like they aren’t paying enough. That’s not how the landlording business works.